War, Peace and Judaism 2

  • 50 minutes
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Lesson Plan

Second lesson in a four-lesson unit. Students look at war and peace from the perspective of Biblical history and Jewish ethics by studying traditional Jewish texts. Students will be challenged to consider how Judaism synthesizes war and peace.

Lesson objectives

The student will be able to:

1. Describe the messianic utopian future according to Isaiah.

2. Describe the texts of peace/war in general.

3. Explain the importance of the texts on the worksheets.

4. Describe the difference between milchemet reshut and milchemet mitzvah.

5. Describe the difference between loving peace and pursuing peace.


The student will be able to:

1. Read and analyze the texts in a group.

2. Participate in a group discussion.


The student will appreciate:

1. The importance of peace in Judaism.

2. The position of war in Judaism, as reflected from the texts.

Resources & Equipment needed

Photocopies of the worksheets and source sheets


1. Hand out the “Peace as a Utopia” worksheets.

2. Work through the sheet together as a class, using the questions to guide the students in their understanding of the text. Answer suggestions are available in the appendix.

3. Divide the class into two groups.

4. Hand the source sheets “Peace within Judaism” to one group (the “Peace” group) and “War within Judaism” to the other group (the “War” group).

5. Write the motion “Judaism is a religion of love and peace, and sees no ethical possibility for justified war or violence” on the board for each group to see.

6. Assignment: The “Peace” group should prepare an argument in defense of the motion, while the “War” group should prepare an assignment challenging the motion. Encourage the students to use the questions on their source sheets to construct their argument.

7. Ask them to appoint a debating team of three students (ensuring that all students in the group are still involved in preparation of the argument).

8. Tell the students that they will have the remainder of the class and a part of the next class to prepare.


Click here to return to Part 1. Click here to continue to Part 3.