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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Mordechai Lipskier

Defund who?


Defunding the police sounds senseless and reckless, and contradicts the command to “set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities.” Nevertheless, there is validity to the idea.

In the winter of 5732 (1971) the Rebbe wrote a letter to a Jewish police officer who had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant:[1]

The merit of working with the Police Department consists mainly in the fact that its purpose is to promote law and order, and to enable the members of the community to live the kind of life which is worthy of human living, in conditions of security and peace of the mind. Ideally, the purpose of the Police Department is to concentrate on the good, and on crime prevention, rather than having to catch the culprits after the perpetration of the crime. The same is true of medical science. For, although when a person becomes sick, it is necessary to do everything possible to alleviate his pain and cure him, the ideal objective of medical science is preventive medicine, and to teach people to live their daily life in a way that would not necessitate their dependence upon medication and the like.

Similarly, it is to be hoped that the work of the Police Department could be largely dedicated to making and promoting the conditions which would be conductive to a peaceful and orderly life, in which the public institutions, especially the schools, both public and private, could carry on their work without problems, and even the anti-social elements would recognize that crime does not pay.

The importance of the educational institutions cannot be overemphasized, and when a child receives his education and training under satisfactory conditions, he is bound to become a good citizen, a good American, and, if he is a Jew, a good Jew. For such is basically the nature of each and every child regardless of his background, as the wisest of all men said, “Train the youngers in the proper way; even when he grows older he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

The Rebbe’s perspective for ideal medicine, policing, and education is one that must be disseminated.

Medical science saves lives, but the co-dependence it has created—the notion that we need medicine in order to live a healthy life—destroys. For many of us, taking one pill or another is considered perfectly normal and healthy, when really we should be trying to prevent the need for any pills in the first place. This dependence goes even further. Medical science has convinced us that we don’t know anything, to the point that many of us no longer trust our parental instincts (and are encouraged not to). Instead, we rely on the doctor for everything.

Schools have also fallen victim to this dependency. In recent years there’s been a strong focus on therapies and mental health in schools. Of course these efforts are vital in certain cases, but when everything education-related must be approved by medical professionals, the education itself—the entire reason the children go to school in the first place—is severely compromised.

The Rebbe wants us to think differently. Instead of operating our educational institutions as infirmaries, we should be focused on transforming our infirmaries into educational institutions. 

Policing is necessary, but it would benefit us all to revisit its ideals. Policing should not be about controlling crime or suppressing it, but about preventing it in the first place.

Symbolically, the movement to dismantle the police force may also be a deep cry for the coming of Moshiach, when the whole world will be completely self-motivated to do the right thing, and there will be no need for police altogether. Instead, our days will be spent learning about our Creator.[2]

[1] The Letter & The Spirit, vol. 3, pg. 116.

[2] See Likutei Sichos vol 34 pg. 105. 

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Lipskier


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