G-d commands us to desist from celebrating the death of an enemy. At the end of the day, we are told that all human beings are His creations and even though they may turn out to be evil, their death is not something that should bring us joy.
The origins for this commandment lie in the exemplarily behaviour demonstrated by our ancestors after the Pharaoh’s army was drowned at the Red Sea. From time immemorial, we have specifically shortened our readings of the Hallel prayer (which consists of Psalms 113-118) over the Passover festival. This is to give the message that although we are thanking G-d for rescuing us from the Egyptians, we acknowledge that he brought about the deaths of others to secure our salvation. As a result, we diminish some of the joy we feel by reading these prayers. At all other times, we say the “full” version of the prayer. (Please click here for a more detailed explanation)
I say all this because it has been very much on my mind over the last few days, since I heard about the death of Zarqawi in Iraq. My reaction to the killing of this brute and murderer has been one of satisfaction and relief – but not glee. It gives me no pleasure to dance around, celebrating anyone’s death. I will probably feel the same way when Hamanejad of Iran gets his comeuppance.
Zarqawi got his just desserts.
I just don’t see that much of a reason to smile about it.