It has been reported that Hamas is demanding 1,000 terrorists now in Israeli jails in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held hostage for two years in Gaza. Hence, let’s consider an article by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s on the subject of prisoner exchange in Jewish law, but only insofar as it refers to the imprisonment of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg in the thirteenth century.
“Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (1215-1293 c.e.), known as the Maharam, was one of the greatest of the early Jewish codifiers. At the age of seventy he was taken captive and placed in a prison in France. Emperor Rudolf I proceeded to demand an exorbitant sum for his release.
“To understand the full significance of this act it is important to realize that almost all of the rabbis and leaders of the Jewish communities in that generation were the Maharam's students…Even the great rabbis of the generation that followed were greatly influenced by the teachings of the Maharam. The most famous of his students was Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, known as the Rosh, whose rulings are cited extensively in Rabbi Yosef Karo's Shulchan Arukh. » Continue reading “Prisoner Exchange in Jewish Law”