70 Facets of Torah

On the execution of Tookie Williams, I believe that Rabbi Adlerstein’s position is brilliantly written, masterfully argued, and, nonetheless, wrong. “It is hard to find a more convincing argument to reject it, than that is endorsed by” our favorite critic, DovBear, who called it “the best thing [he has] ever read on Cross Currents.” 🙂

In all seriousness, though, of course Rabbi Adlerstein and I agree on capital punishment, and the idea of “redemption” as it relates to capital punishment. We agree on the EU and the entertainment industry. But when it comes to Tookie, I see his death as justified.

There is, as others mentioned, the possibility of extrajudicial death sentences not mandated by Torah. It may be true that most of those testifying against Tookie were creeps, but none had any particular reason to point the finger particularly at him. In at least one case Williams’ trial was already over and done with, and the eyewitness who testified was on his way towards being convicted of murder for his own part in the crime; he merely affirmed that indeed Tookie was the “trigger man.” And it certainly makes sense for even a modern day Bais Din to take into account things like ballistics evidence (according to experts, at least one of the shells at the triple murder could have emerged from no other shotgun on earth than the one owned by Williams) in those areas where it is permitted leverage, like its own penalties in times of lawlessness.

Again, not celebrated to be certain, but justified even under the rigorous standards of Halacha. Or, so it seems to me.

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2 Responses

  1. DovBear says:

    We agree on the EU and the entertainment industry.

    I also agree with you on the entertainment industry. Fox, for example, with things like the Simpsons, Family Guy, Malcolm in the Middle (and many more) has coarsned televesion and exposed our young people to terrible ideas and images.

    Wait. That’s what you mean, right?

    Or does Fox get a free pass because it’s owned by Rupert Murdoch, a fire breathing conservative?

  2. Ori Pomerantz says:


    Rabbi Menken wrote a few month ago about the advantages of NOT having a television at home. I think Fox gets a free “pass to somebody else” from him. He can agree with their politics without accepting the value of their programming.

    Rabbi Menken,

    In the time of the Talmud there were two types of evidence: witnesses and circumstantial evidence. Today we have forensics that, while technically circumstantial, are probably a lot stronger than what the Talmudic sages would have imagined. We know the sages of the Talmud were primarily concerned with writing down laws and discussions they considered relevant (that’s why Bavli doesn’t have most of Zra’im, for example).

    Is there a mechanism to change court procedures, such as the evidence considered valid?

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