Question: Torah has valued human life above all and under every circumstances we should try to save human as it is said to save one human being is like to save entire entire mankind. On the other hand, the laws of war of Deuteronomy says that when we go to war with faraway nations we are to give people chance to surrender and if they won’t we are to kill all the men in it. So how can we justify killing all the men just like that when we consider human life above all ? In self defense its proper to kill but for territorial expansion why should we shed blood? I am sure that G-D too wouldn’t allow us to shed innocent blood.
Answer: Thanks for asking this important question. The first thing that needs to be said is that we think of all wars as equal. That is not true. We cannot equate a war that G-d commanded us to fight and a war that we choose to fight. If you learn the Torah’s perspective on warfare you will see that warfare in Torah law is totally different from warfare in the non-Jewish world. That is not possible to understand unless you go very in depth into the Torah’s perspective. To help you do that, here is a link that will describe the concept in great detail. I give this information over in a class format and I find that if you study it well it will give you a great overview of “Jewish warfare.” http://nleresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Shoftim-War.pdf
Next, let me just say that we are not talking about the modern concept of “holy wars” where people think that they know the will of G-d. The Torah’s concept of war is that G-d commands the Jews to do certain things because in His wisdom this is what needs to happen to bring balance to the world. There is a commandment in the Torah to completely destroy the nation of Amalek. This nation, according to the Torah, is evil through and through. There is no way that anyone from that nation can survive and the world be a safe place. King Saul almost destroyed this nation once but left the king alive for one night. He was wrong and he lost his kingship over that. The results of that night were that the king had relations with a woman, the child grew up and his ancestor ended up being the evil Haman and, according to many Hitler was also a descendant of Amalek.
Be Well, Rabbi Litt