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In Your Blood, Live!

April 1, 2002
© 2002 The Temple Institute, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights Reserved

This Passover marks 3314 years since Israel's exodus from Egypt. This is the holiday that commemorates Israel's birth as a nation, and is thus known as "the Festival of Freedom."

What was the nature of that freedom? Only the recognition of G-d as the single true reality, and the commitment to live life dedicated to Divine purpose. Fresh from Egyptian bondage, our forefathers walked out into the uncharted wilderness of the desert. And as they traveled to the Land of Israel, the Tabernacle of G-d traveled with them, standing in their midst. This was more than just a simple statement of faith or religious symbolism. While the rest of the world floundered in the mire of idolatry and licentiousness, this new nation had an announcement to make, a message for all the peoples on earth: here is a nation who lives with G-d in its midst. Yes - it is possible for a people to be as unified as one man, and to be totally centered around G-d. But all of Israel's observances and festivals have a universal aspect as well. Israel did not only gain her own emancipation on Passover; she also bequeathed this promise of freedom and redemption to the entire world.

The night Israel left Egypt, G-d commanded His people to shatter the Egyptians' idolatrous virtual reality. The Jews were directed to take the Egyptians' god, the sheep, slaughter it before their eyes as the Passover sacrifice, and dab its blood on the doorposts of their own houses as a sign of distinction and separation, so that their houses would be passed over during the plague of the Firstborn. But G-d did not need a roadmap to know which were the Jewish houses...the blood was placed on the inside of their homes, not the outside... for it was meant for they themselves to look upon, to strengthen their faith in the One G-d of Israel.

Indeed, Passover is intricately connected with two of G-d's commandments relating to blood. The Haggada, the traditional text that recounts the story of the Exodus used at the Passover seder meal, cites the verse from Ezekiel (16:6), as directly applying to the holiday: "And when I passed by you, and saw you wallowing in your own blood, I said to you, In your blood, live! Yes, in your blood, live!" Our sages have related that this teaches how Israel's deliverance from Egypt arrived just at a time when the nation was "wallowing" with two types of blood - the blood of two commandments. These are the blood of the Passover sacrifice, and the blood of circumcision. In the merit of these two commandments, ensigns of Israel's singular, G-dly mission, our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt - and it has been Israel's Divinely-appointed task to continue shattering the world's idols, ever since.

The principle of freedom and the dignity of man is just one of the many debts of gratitude that the world owes the Jewish people. Passover, with its universal aspect of freedom and the hope of redemption, would perhaps be the best time for the world to reflect on this debt. How ironic that throughout history, the nations of the world have often chosen the night of Passover to show their thanks to Israel by staging murderous pogroms and blood libels against them. This year, on the first night of Passover, the night marked by the Haggada as "different from all others," G-d saw Israel once again wallowing in her own blood: the nearly ankle-deep blood of the massacred that covered the floor of the dining room in Netanya's Park Hotel. Just as families and loved ones were sitting down to the traditional Passover seder, a Palestinian suicide-bomber, sporting a woman's wig, strode into the center of the room and detonated himself, killing thus far 22 people and leaving nearly 140 wounded. As former Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out, Israel had not experienced such a violent Arab attack "so laced with contempt for our people and our heritage" since the attack against Israel that began on Yom Kippur in 1973. Indeed, the current war which began on Rosh HaShana, has come into a decisive stage on Passover.

Opposition leader Yossi Sarid said that "murdering Jews at a Passover seder is not just a crime against Judaism, it is a crime against humanity." Yet the organized representatives of alleged humanity seem more concerned with the "crimes" Israel is committing. The international media pays great attention to Israel's siege of Arafat and her military actions against his terrorist infrastructure, but glosses over the daily atrocities being committed against Israel's citizens. The world is calling for international aid to the Palestinians. They say that the barbaric action against Chairman Arafat, which is Israel's response to the Saudi peace initiative (and not a word do they mention of whole Jewish families being wiped out), must cease at once. Prime Minister Sharon, having previously dismissed Arafat as "irrelevant," has now decided that he is indeed quite relevant. He has officially declared the Chairman "an enemy of Israel." The Prime Minister related that yesterday, foreign leaders were phoning him all day long and inquiring as to the conditions under which the Nobel peace-prize winner is being confined within his headquarters. They asked him such questions as "how many rooms does he have access to - 2 or 3? How are his meals? How much sleep is he getting? Is there adequate sunlight and ventilation in his suite?" However, as the Prime Minister commented, "they asked nothing as to the welfare of the hundreds upon hundreds of Israeli orphans that Arafat's terror has created."

Here in Israel, we wonder if the international media has shown the huge weapons arsenal that was uncovered by Israeli troops inside Arafat's headquarters. This included a vast array of many weapons such as anti-tank rockets which the Palestinian Authority is specifically forbidden to possess according to the Oslo accords, that were smuggled into the PA by land, sea and air, utilizing such means as Arafat's own private plane. A number of Jewish kippot - skullcaps worn by Orthodox men - were also found. In Arafat headquarters? They were either kept in preparation for the dispatching of a suicide bomber disguised as a Jew, or else, Arafat and his men must put them on while engaging in private prayer. And in the true spirit of an Al Capone-Mafioso who runs his little fiefdom with total corruption, the soldiers found a large amount of counterfeit Israeli money as well as imprints and plates for production.

Within his offices, Arafat is in good company. Although he read a statement to the media as late as March 21 condemning the suicide bombing in Jerusalem, and promising to put an end to such attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, (he has changed his mind more often than Pharaoh) in those private chambers at this very moment he is harboring the murderers of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi, as well as the mastermind of the "Karine A" weapons ship, and many other wanted terrorists, some of them only recently released. Thus yesterday, in a show of "support," a group of pro-Arafat European leftists entered Arafat's office without the Israeli army's permission. 20 men entered those offices, but nearly twice that number attempted to leave. Members of the group, extremely dedicated to the human values that Arafat stands for, attempted to smuggle out some of these murderers and make them look like part of their group. This prompted the IDF to declare Ramallah a closed military zone.

At the seder meal on Passover night, it is customary to leave an empty chair for Elijah the Prophet as a symbolic gesture. He is the harbinger of the Ultimate Redemption and we believe that his spirit is present on this night. But this year there are hundreds of other empty chairs, in many, many houses in Israel: fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. It is also customary for the youngest child to ask his father the "four questions" at the seder, beginning with the words "Why is this night different from all other nights?" This year, Israel is experiencing a Passover which is different from all others.

"In your blood, live!" Yesterday, during the space of time that this article was being written, two more suicide attacks were  perpetrated. The first, at a restaurant in Haifa, has thus far claimed 15 lives with 26 wounded. The suicide bomber who blew up that restaurant was not even a "Palestinian," but a 16 year-old Israeli Arab. In the second attack, in the community of Efrata, 6 people were wounded, two seriously. Here, the suicide bomber was a 16 year-old boy, who deliberately detonated the explosive belt on his body by a group of emergency medical technicians in front of the community's ambulance station.

According to the Foreign Ministry, yesterday's two attacks have brought the total number of those murdered in the first four days of Passover to 42, and the number murdered in the month of March to at least 125. To our sorrow, as a number of the wounded are either mortally or seriously wounded and are presently fighting for their lives, that number is likely to rise.

125 victims of terror, murdered in one month. Civilians and soldiers, grandparents, infants, teenagers, elderly Holocaust survivors. A coupleengaged to be married. A mother of two small children, who was pregnant with twins. Some were blown up as they sat in a cafe, some were shopping; others, like a 22 year-old kindergarten teacher, were shot as they road a bus or drove along the road. Some were killed attending a bar-mitzva, others, while sitting down to the Passover seder, others as they walked to synagogue for their early morning prayers. Last Saturday night, a terrorist entered into a home in the community of Elon Moreh and murdered 3 generations of an entire family... both parents, their recently-married son, and the grandfather. As Chief Rabbi Bakshi-Doron commented yesterday, "Arafat is bringing about a holocaust on the people of Israel."

What modern, civilized country would tolerate this? What country would not do everything possible to protect its citizens from such monsters? And who is that would dare to urge "restraint?" Israel's response to a continuous and devastating onslaught of terror, now well into its second year, has been far less than America's response to one day of terrorism.

Thankfully, some terror attacks have been the bomb discovered by the IDF, hidden inside a Palestinian ambulance. The world media films Israeli troops detaining and checking such ambulances, and dares to imply that this delays proper medical attention. But on March 27th, an explosive belt ready to worn by a suicide bomber, as well as other bomb making materials, were discovered hidden inside a Red Crescent Society ambulance. The device, containing about 10 kilograms of explosives, was concealed under a stretcher upon which a 7 year-old Palestinian boy was lying. Fear not: the boy's parents were with him in the ambulance. The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose ambulances were especially equipped by the Nazis as mobile gas chambers, does not recognize Israel's red Star of David as an acceptable symbol, and has consistently refused to include Israel's ambulance program as part of its organization. But it does indeed recognize and accept the blood-red Red Crescent Society... "in your blood, live!"

Some of the bombers have been women; others have dressed up as women - or as IDF soldiers, or as religious Jews. Some of the bombers have been children; a supermarket in Jerusalem was blown up last Friday by a 16 year-old girl. Maybe Golda Meir was right about when she made her famous statement that we will have peace "when the Arabs start to love their own children more than they hate us." But in the meantime, that unfortunately seems far off. Over 70% of those surveyed on the Palestinian street fully support the suicide bombers. And the parents of the "martyrs" interviewed have expressed regret along such lines as "if only I had another 70 sons, I would be prepared for each and every one to die."

"In your blood, live!" Entire Jewish families are being murdered every day, and Yasser Arafat compares the IDF to Nazis. Less than 3 months since Arafat lied to President Bush about the confiscated weapons ship, the President, who has gone to ends of the earth to rout out those who perpetrated the terror of just one day in America, says he is "very disappointed" with Arafat because "he can do more" to stop terror. "And he has got to speak out clearly. He's got to make it absolutely clear that the Palestinian Authority does not support these terrorist activities, and use his security forces to prevent them from happening."

But Arafat can't do that. So Bush is "disappointed," while Jewish children are murdered together with their parents. Every day of Passover, funerals have been taking place all over Israel. Their families must be more than just disappointed. Arafat has to "do more," and "speak clearly?" Consider this: Israel had asked the Palestinian Authority to arrest the suicide bomber who killed 24 people at the hotel in Netanya. The Israeli security services knew that he was planning a terrorist attack and gave his name to PA several weeks ago. But the Palestinians did nothing.

Mr. Bush would be satisfied if Arafat would denounce terror to his people, in Arabic. All Arafat needs to do is to lie again, but this time in Arabic, and from a prepared speech. But it is Arafat's own Fatah and Tanzim operatives who have committed most of the atrocities of the last 5 days!

Following Sept. 11th, the President said that no distinction can be made between the terrorists themselves, and those who harbor them. To this end, many innocents were inadvertently killed as US forces searched for one man, a man with whom there could never be negotiations. A red cross hospital was mistakenly bombed, because "war is war." Yet Mr. Bush, concerned about his plans for building a coalition against Iraq, found that Israel's self-defensive actions following the assassination  of Cabinet Minister Ze'evi were "not helpful." And now the President needed to receive "guarantees" from the Israeli government and assurances that Arafat, the world's highest ranking terrorist, will not be harmed! To the countless Israelis whose have lost loved ones and whose lives will never be the same, this position is not merely hypocritical. It is the height of obscenity.

"In your blood, live!" Passover and blood. From the Middle Ages and down through modern times, Passover has been a time for the renewal of the age-old, horrific blood libel. According to Encyclopedia Judaica, the blood libel is "the allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals; a complex of deliberate lies, trumped-up accusations, and popular beliefs about the murder-lust of the Jews and their bloodthirstiness, based on the conception that Jews hate Christianity and mankind in general. It is combined with the delusion that Jews are in some way not human and must have recourse to special remedies and subterfuges in order to appear, at least outwardly, like other men. The blood libel led to trials and massacres of Jews in the Middle Ages and early modern times; it was revived by the Nazis. Blood sacrifices were practiced by many pagan religions. They are expressly forbidden by the Torah. The kosher preparation of meat is designed to prevent the least drop of avoidable blood remaining in food. Yet pagan incomprehension of the Jewish monotheist cult, lacking the customary images and statues, led to charges of ritual killing." Encyclopedia Judaica continues: "Jewish scholars in the Middle Ages bitterly rejected this inhuman accusation. They quoted the Law and instanced the Jewish way of life in order to refute it. The scholars position was summed up thus: "You are libeling us for you want to find a reason to permit the shedding of our blood."

Just several weeks ago, a Saudi government sponsored newspaper printed a column about the Jewish holiday of Purim. "For this holiday," explained a professor at King Faisal University, "the Jewish people must obtain blood so that their clerics can prepare the holiday pastries. ... I would like to clarify that the Jews' spilling human blood to prepare pastry for their holidays is a well-established fact, historically and legally, all throughout history... " These are the same Saudis who are sponsoring the wonderful new peace initiative that offers Israel the chance for "normalization" in exchange for a return to pre-1967 borders, disarmament, influx of Palestinian refugees, and other steps that will result in the destruction of the State of Israel. America is very much in favor of this plan...

The blood libel is alive and well this Passover. The Jews must in some way be not human, as the rest of the world, the human world, stands by while Jews are massacred, family by family. When Israel seeks to defend herself as any other country would do, and is now doing, the same world of humans then turns around and accuses her of waging war. The victims become the aggressors.

Passover teaches us freedom, the freedom known only by those whose lives are dedicated to the service of G-d. And within that freedom lies the only answer to all our questions, as Deuteronomy instructs:

"This day the L-rd your G-d has commanded you to do these statutes and judgments, you shall therefore keep them and do them with all your heart, and with all your soul. You have vouched the L-rd this day to be your G-d, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken to His voice: and the L-rd has vouched you this day to be a people for His own possession, as He has promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments, and to make you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that you may be a holy people to the L-rd your G-d, as He has spoken."

This is the freedom of Passover, the only freedom, the first and last freedom.

But there is one question that remains unanswered, the fifth Passover question that we pose to you this year: Where is the world that received the knowledge of One G-d, the Ten Commandments, freedom, the promise of Redemption... and all else that is right and good and true in this world, from the Jewish people? Where?

Rabbi Chaim Richman

PO Box 31876 Jerusalem, Israel 97500


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