What is the Key to Controlling Violence?

By Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht

Condensed from an essay published in 1969. Its message is, perhaps, more relevant now than ever before.

Rabbi J. J. Hecht
Rabbi J. J. Hecht (1924-1990)

“The issue of violence is one that has beset the United States as few problems in the past. In recent years, we have seen armed personal assaults on innocent men, women, and children.

What has happened to our nation that violence has become part and parcel of the American way? Political leaders, law-enforcement officials, educators, psychologists and sociologists have attempted to define both its cause and its cure. What is said about determining the origins of violence is not nearly as important as recommendations for controlling it. The suggested remedies range from more effective law enforcement (including gun control) to better social conditions.

The sad fact is, however, that no matter how many of these approaches are tried, no matter how much they are funded, and no matter how much they are endorsed by various groups, they are all bound to fail unless a simultaneous effort is made in another area.

The missing element is morality. The more that we will value the human spirit as being in the image of G-d, the more regard we will have for the property and persons of others. The challenge, therefore, is to make America a moral nation once more. This, of course, is easier said than done, but it brings to the fore an approach which has been strangely abandoned.

Is it utopian belief to think that American society can be turned again to morality? Moses spent 40 years leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land, realizing full well that he himself would never enter it. We must do the same — start so that, eventually, violence in America will be something that is read about only in history books.”


An important starting place is to educate and to encourage the observance of the Divine moral code, known as the Seven Laws of Noah, among all people. For more information, visit www.asknoah.org.

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