|TABC students holding a first place plaque. Courtesy Lander|
Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck students came in first place, among teams from eight U.S. high schools, in the second annual Lander College for Men Model Beis Din Competition. This is the second straight year that TABC earned first place in the competition.
The following question, based on a tragic real-life scenario, was put to competing students in the second annual competition:
A pilot in the Israeli air force is sent on a mission to destroy an enemy platoon. As he is en route and outside the range of communications, the air force learns that the intelligence was flawed and the target actually is an area populated by civilians.
According to Jewish law, is the air force permitted-or even obligated-to shoot down its own plane, sacrificing the pilot for the sake of the civilians?
According to Rabbi Yonason Sacks, rosh hayeshiva of the Beis Medrash L’Talmud, “The Model Beis Din was an exciting and creative way of demonstrating the dynamic nature of halacha-how the Torah can inform and confront moral and legal challenges in the most sophisticated way.”
Each high school received the details of the scenario in January, along with a packet of relevant halachic sources to consider for its arguments. A rabbinic faculty member for each school served as an advisor for his team.
Because the matter is subject to debate, the winners were chosen based on the quality of the presentations and their mastery of the different opinions and Talmudic sources as related to this case, and on how well they supported their findings.
Students from TABC, Shaare Torah, and Ohr Yisrael were awarded plaques and sforim. In addition, LCM dean Dr. Moshe Sokol offered each member of the three first-place teams who is accepted and matriculates to LCM a $2,500 scholarship. All participants received a copy of Rabbi Sacks’ commentary on the haggadah and a Lander College for Men duffel bag.