“When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees of the field people, that you should besiege them? “(Devarim 20,19)
In war the animal instinct of a person comes out. He has to deal with pain, death of close friends and even the act of killing itself is not easy. In such a situation the humanity of each person is tested. What is humanity? In what way does man differr from other creatures?
The diffrence is not in the insticts – many of man’s insticts are similar to other creatures. The diffrence is the ability of man to act not according to his instics but according to his mind.
And so the Torah tells us that even in the most difficult time for the humanity of man ie. while at war, “AM YISRAEL” is commanded by the torah not to do any unnecessary damage; even to a tree. The tree hasn’t done anything to you, on the contrary, it gives you shade and fruit to eat, and as so you have a certain obligation to it.
The meaning of humanity is in the potential to choose what to do and not to be like an animal which is controled by it insticts. Humanity is to have the ability to choose, and to be a Jew means to be human.