Winner gets a free Nextbook Press book appropriate to his or her comment (if he or she emails me at mtracy@tabletmag.com with his or her mailing address).

This week’s winner is Leor Blumenthal, who was prompted by Liel Leibovitz’s “Arbiter” on the Star Wars movies to mount an intricate exegesis on the most controversial scene in them all: the meeting between Han Solo and Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina (original, new edition). Blumenthal argues:

It is interesting that Liel raises the “Han shot first” ruckus without mentioning that al pi Halakha what Han did was absolutely moral. Greedo came to collect a debt. Han, a shomer sakhar in Jabba’s employ, was forced to jettison the cargo he was delivering for Jabba. Han insists to Greedo that he doesn’t have the cash to pay Jabba the debt, but will soon (once he gets back from ferrying the old man, boy and two droids to Alderaan). Greedo instead insists that he has the right to seize Han’s ship. When Han refuses (“Over my dead body!”) Greedo threatens to kill Han. At this point Greedo is a rodef, and even if he hasn’t pulled the trigger on his blaster pistol, the fact that he IS pointing one at Han, entitles Han to kill Greedo to save his life. But that is not good enough for the Lucas of 1997. 🙁

(Italics and links are mine; emoticon is his.)

This may not be the single best justification for Han shot first, but it’s certainly the most theological. Blumenthal gets a copy of Elie Wiesel’s Rashi, because the great Talmudist would have appreciated this argument.

Monomaniacal [Tablet Magazine]
Rashi [Nextbook Press]