web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Sh’foch Chamatcha: Justice, Not Vengeance


Share Button

Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations that know Thee not and upon the kingdoms that call not upon Thy name; for they have consumed Jacob and laid waste his dwelling. Pour out Thy fury upon them, and may the kindling of Thine anger overtake them. Pursue them with anger and destroy them from under God’s skies.

Powerful, frightening, “awe-ful” words.

During the Passover Seder, Jews the world over open the doors of their dwellings and speak these words to God, with the nations as their witness; these words that upon a simple read cry out for God’s vengeance upon those who have harmed us and, by harming us, have demonstrated their lack of understanding of the God of Creation.

For too many Jews, the recitation of the Passover Seder is a backward-looking tradition; a recitation of past events and miracles. For them, it does not speak to modern times and experience. To their ears, the beautiful b’chol dor vador … is little more than a lovely melody.

But for God’s people, the past is never only the past. It is always prelude. The words of the Haggadah speak in the present tense, never just in the past. B’chol dor vador is never simply a lovely sentiment; never just a romanticized notion of the “chain of our tradition.”

Those who fail to take seriously the truth of b’chol dor vador or who deny the Pharaohs of their own day are made uncomfortable by the power and passion of the Sh’foch Chamatcha. During the Victorian age, it was condemned in the London Jewish World:

[A]re we still, on each recurrence of the festival which celebrates God’s compassionate love of His people, to pray to the Supreme, “Pour out They wrath upon the heathen…”?

Are we bound to repeat these and such like imprecations, aimless, purposeless, meaningless in our mouths, which gushed from the lips of our ill-used predecessors which such deadly earnestness? Must our prayer-book continue to be defaced by passages which should never have found entrance therein? Are our children to learn from us that prayer to God for mercy may be accompanied by hysterical entreaties for revenge – bloodshed, fire and destruction – on foes long passed away? In a word, must Jewish worship in the nineteenth and each succeeding century remain stained and disfigured by the blackest fruits of the dark middle ages?

These words cast the Sh’foch Chamatcha as immoral. Were these powerful and passionate words truly out of place in the Victorian Age? In our modern world? Has the world truly turned from those “dark middle ages”?

If so, are the words of b’chol dor vador equally as misplaced?

Let us not ever forget that for the Jew, past is never simply the past. If any Jew would forget that truth, perhaps it would be wise for him to consider approximately twenty minutes of one day in one year in one place.

The time: about a month before Passover 2008. The place: Mercaz HaRav in Jerusalem, a yeshiva founded by the great Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. The Jews: yeshiva students following the example of this gentle, brilliant scholar and leader, immersed in their studies.

8:36 p.m. – A gunman enters the yeshiva and opens fire indiscriminately.

8:36 – The first phone call is received by Magen David Adom from a student inside the building.

8:37 – The first ambulances are sent.

8:40 – The first police car arrives at the yeshiva (the officers do not enter the building).

8:41 – The first paramedic on the scene reports of one person wounded.

8:42 – IDF Capt. David Shapira enters the building.

8:45 – Shapira and Yitzhak Dadon, a part-time student at the yeshiva, exchange gunfire with the terrorist.

8:57 – Magen David Adom operator reports an “end of shooting” and orders medics into the building.

Twenty minutes. In a mere twenty minutes, a scene of scholarship becomes the scene of death and destruction. Eight students are dead. Eleven more are wounded, five in serious-to-critical condition. The perpetrator, a young Muslim, is killed.

Twenty minutes.

The past becomes present. Again.

There is a teaching in Judaism that each life is worth the whole of creation and when that life is lost, so too creation.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Sh’foch Chamatcha: Justice, Not Vengeance”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Front-Page-041114

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

Rabbi Safran (center) with his Yerushalmi hat, circa 1982.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

The only way for children to find a way back to the path is through parental love and understanding.

Nothing defines a community so much as its recognition of common leadership and willingness to respect its authority.

The road back is paved with love, understanding, hugs, and honest communication.

An educator must not be satisfied until that soul he refuses to handle, love, nourish and develop is registered in another school, one more caring and embracing.

No matter where we look, our lives are touched by miracles.

If a teacher thinks his task is merely “to teach” – that it is no great thing to teach, that “anybody can do that” — he must immediately be set straight.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/shfoch-chamatcha-justice-not-vengeance/2009/04/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: