Monday, December 20, 2010


Life and Safety in the Jewish Quarter

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by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

     Here, in the Old City (Jerusalem), we live normal lives. Well, normal for our part of the world. Pictured here is a young man rushing around doing the kind of things that we all have to do. He is shopping with his small daughter on his shoulders. Except for the unusual architecture, you might think that it is like any other Jewish neighborhood you have seen…lots of young children, noise, not enough time to do everything that needs to be done.

     But, if you look carefully, you will notice one big difference. Look what he has tucked into his belt right next to his tzitzits (fringes). Do you see it? It is a loaded, nine-millimeter, 16 shot per clip, automatic pistol. Yeah, it’s real, and because he is carrying this, Jewish children can play in the streets.

     Shabbos afternoon at the Kotel, a new oleh (immigrant) from Latin America who is in the army asked me, “What kind of religious thing is this… me being in the army learning to kill people? How does this make G-d happy?” 

     I told him, “The Torah teaches that when someone rises up to kill us, we are not to turn the other cheek, or run away. We are obligated to rise up and kill him first. We do not want war with these people. We want to live in peace. We would even let them live here as long as they would stop trying to kill us. But they rise up against us time and time again. We have to defend ourselves.

     Even the world’s greatest example of kindness, Avraham, had to fight a war in order to free his captured nephew.[i] And it seems that, until the Messiah comes, so, too will we have to fight. You are doing a tremendous mitzvah by being in the army. If you weren’t there, the Jewish people couldn’t be here.”

(Akiva adds…”loaded”, there is a clip in the pistol.  But Israel teaches an amazing level of gun safety.  There is NOT a round in the chamber, and gun users are taught to draw and cock in one motion…so that no accidental discharge is possible.  With all the guns found in Israel there are NO reports of children being injured, people grabbing their weapons in anger and doing something stupid, or improperly handling weapons and getting hurt.  Every weapon owner has to go through a yearly certification demonstrating that he knows all the rules, can and does handle his weapon safely, and can use his weapon properly to an good level of proficiency.  Every Israeli weapon holder can hit what he shoots at and keeps his (or her) weapon either on his person or under lock and key at all times.)

[i] Genesis 14:14


  1. Hello Reb:

    It's my understanding that not just anyone can own a gun in Israel - that you have to be in the IDF or live in a dangerous place. Can you explain what the gun ownership laws are or point me in the right direction. My husband and I will be making aliyah( G-d willing sooner than later) and we are gun owners. I was told we would have to sell them before doing so.


  2. If one lives in the West Bank, one can apply for a weapon after living there some time (9 months I think for a new immigrant).

    If one owns a jewelry or cash business, one can apply. If one is a officer in the IDF or works for a security firm (like a security guard), one can apply. There are a few other narrow specific circumstances like this.

    In these cases apply means if everything else is normal, get a permit for any caliber of pistol. Additional permit can be requested for a second pistol if you already have one. New immigrants may not apply until after some period of time (1 year I think).

    Permit includes permission for a limited amount of ammunition on hand (100 rounds I think maximum). Every permit is a carry permit and a concealed carry permit.

    To receive the permit the holder must pass a proficiency test, which is given on a gun range and demonstrates understanding of safety laws and shooting and gun control.

    Shotguns may be acquired via a hunters permit, which anyone may apply for. It includes a written test (of where hunting is permitted and not permitted and what may be hunted and what may not) and a practical test which includes actual hunting.

    Besides the above, people living in the West Bank may be issued an M16 or Uzi by their town security officer, who has a limited armory he may choose to distribute. Such people are issued a permit for carrying them. The IDF may cancel this for any town or area and require returning of these weapons at any time the area commander deems appropriate for local security.

    IDF soldiers may be issued weapons, which they are then required to carry at all times (on and off duty).

    Once issued a permit one has to yearly re-test demonstrating proficiency.

  3. That wasn't my understanding of the laws here. I thought you had to either live in the West Bank, be a soldier or have a profession that requires you to carry valuables, such as diamonds, gold, etc and that if you don't fit into any of those three, you're out of luck.


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