Baruch Goldstein was a righteous man, but what he did was wrong, Zionist Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said in a response to a question regarding the Jewish doctor who murdered 29 Palestinian civilians and injured another 125 at the Cave of Machpela on Purim eve 14 years ago.
Aviner replied to a reader's question posted on the Ma'ale website. The reader was wondering whether Goldstein's act was justified, "seeing that at the time many innocent Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists," or whether his act constituted "a heinous murder."
Rabbi Aviner agreed that the issue was complicated: On the one hand, Goldstein's act could not be viewed separately from the man himself, who, according to Aviner lived during a time of multiple terror attacks and dedicated his life to saving Jews; and on the other hand, a man cannot act of his own accord on behalf of the nation.
"Clearly Baruch Goldstein did not act out of personal vengeance. This is precisely why he should have asked for the nation's permission, because it is the nation that would later have to shoulder the responsibility.
"Had he asked us we would have told him not to do it. This is not the way to act. But he didn't. And he got killed. He knew that what he was doing was dangerous, so may the memory of the righteous be for blessing, may the memory of the saintly be for blessing. But what he did was wrong."
The Realistic Religious Zionism movement stated in response" We believe that the religious public understands the severity of Goldstein's act, is appalled by the murderer's actions and will not allow questionable words to divert them from observing the mitzvah of 'be killed but do not transgress'."