Thou shall not stand idly by
Rabbi Reuven Mann-Dean, Masoret Institute

Is Clinton right? Do we face a moral imperative to stop Serbia's ethnic cleansing policies?
Response by Rabbi Reuven Mann:
"Thou shall not stand idly by the blood of your brother."In the purely halachic sense "brother" refers to any fellow Jew whom we are enjoined to assist, with all means at our disposal, whenever he/she is in danger. (Note: This is a sobering thought.At a time of great animosity among our people it is important to remember that we must treat every Jew not according to how we feel, but according to the Torah's definition i.e.,. brother and sister.) However in the philosophical sense the Torah demands that we regard all humans as brothers for all have been created in the image of G-d and all share a divine soul.The affliction and oppression of man is thus an act of hostility against the divine image and more significantly against the Creator. Thus Moses not only struck down the Egyptian who was beating a Jew ("from his brethren") but drove away the shepherds who were mistreating the daughters of Yitro (Exodus 2:17) who were total strangers. Abraham's compassion extended to Sodom and Gemorrah on whose behalf he daringly interceded with G-d to cancel His decree of destruction.The true servant of G-d cannot be indifferent to the degradation and destruction of the being He created in His image.The Rabbi's teach: The ministering angels wanted to sing praises after the splitting of the Red Sea. G-d rebuked them:"The works of my Hand (the Egyptians) are drowned in the sea, and you sing praises?" Thus, there is an element of tragedy even in the destruction of the wicked.
Jews rightfully condemn the indifference of the world and it's failure to offer assistance to the victims of the holocaust.We have a moral obligation to oppose the sinful destruction of all innocent victims.We are commanded to refrain from celebration "when it is a time of suffering for mankind." We learn this from the Rabbinic tradition that Noah refrained from sexual intercourse during his stay on the Ark out of identification with the suffering of mankind.We therefore have a serious moral obligation to oppose and be troubled by the ethnic cleansing of Kossova. This is not to say that the U.S. has an obligation to go to war against the Serbs.We are not obligated to sacrifice the lives of our own soldiers in every situation of evil.How far we must go is a most difficult question. But for starters we must recognize our obligation to oppose and be troubled by the destruction of human life and do all in our power (aside from actual warfare) to stop it.