web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Sh’foch Chamatcha: Justice, Not Vengeance


Twenty minutes. Eight innocent students.

B’chol dor vador.

The mother of one of the students, sixteen-year-old Avraham David Mozes, said, “God picks the most beautiful flowers for His garden. He sees him as an angel, and we should thank Him for the privilege of raising him for sixteen years. Sixteen years of purity and integrity and kindness.”

What would our Victorian writer say to Avraham’s mother? Would he still decry the “hysterical entreaties” of the Sh’foch Chamatcha? Would he recognize the stains of the blackest fruits in those twenty minutes?

How are we, mere human beings, not to cry out for vengeance in the face of such cruel actions? How can we not cry out to God, “Pour out Thy wrath…”

Yet, if we do, we, like the Victorian writer, would be missing the deeper lesson of the Sh’foch Chamatcha. That the words of the Sh’foch Chamatcha are a pained and passionate response to the cruelty the world has inflicted on our people is clear. Each instance of this cruelty, however, quickly becomes a mere historical event. A temporal footnote.

Like the tragic medieval events and circumstances that prompted the rabbis to include the words of the Sh’foch Chamatcha in the Haggadah, they are not enough to provide the theological foundation for later generations to pause in the midst of the Seder and beseech God to “pour out” His wrath upon the nations. Even that these events occur b’chol dor vador is not sufficient theological justification.

Sh’foch Chamatcha is not an expression of vengeance but of justice and geulah. After all, geulah is a fundamental theme of the Haggadah and of Passover. What we know is that geulah did not and will never recur without the full and unqualified belief of the Jewish people that God punishes the wicked. Our morality finds its first voice in Abraham’s words (Bereishit 18:25). “Shall the Judge of all the earth not deal justly?”

The Gaon of Vilna made clear that it is not our higher hope that the wicked suffer but that the righteous prevail. The righteous cannot prevail until the wicked are consumed or, perhaps more correctly, until wickedness is eradicated and the wicked perform teshuvah.

After the defeat of Amalek – the prototype of the nation and people “that know Thee not” – God promises Moses, “I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under Heaven” (Shemot 17:14). God’s promise is eternal. It stands not only for the Amalek of old but for all those who follow Amalek’s methods and tactics, all those who attack the rear guard – the weak, the aged, the women and the children.

It is sensible to hope and pray that God will punish all those whose goal is to humiliate and defeat the Jews for no reason other than our being the Chosen People. We do not, however, seek God’s punishment against those who “know Thee not” through active revenge. We are a people of peace and of justice. We do, however, place our faith in God and pray to Him, the One who does proclaim that “vengeance is mine” and who, in due time, will “pour out His wrath.”

On Shabbat, we pray to the God of Mercy, to Av Harachamim, to recall with compassion, “the devout, the upright and the perfect ones; the holy congregations; the hundreds of thousands of martyred Jews who gave their lives for the Sanctification of the Name.” We do not pray for the strength to avenge our martyrs with a sword. We do not pray for the weapons to bring destruction upon our enemies. We are not motivated to repay murder, destruction, and violence with murder, destruction and violence.

No. We pray to God that, in His own time, He will choose how to atone for the innocent blood of His servants. We believe with perfect faith that the Avenger of blood will remember them. Life. Decency. Integrity. These remain our goals and our ideals.

Yet decency and integrity demand we pray fervently and trust that He may, “before our eyes, exact retribution for the spilled blood of His servants” and fulfill His vow, “O nations, sing the praise of His people for He will avenge the blood of His servants and He will bring retribution upon His foes; and He will appease His land and His people” (Devarim 32:43).

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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

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

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Yeshiva boys learn Torah together at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim.  Due to their participation in a pre-army intelligence program, the IDF requires their identities to remain secret.
Exclusive: First IDF Cyber-Defense Program Opens at Yeshiva
Latest Indepth Stories
Terms of Surrender

Dear Pres. Obama, A “deal” in which one side makes all the concessions is, of course, a “surrender.”

Michael Oren, Israel's Former Ambassador to the United States

ALLY is a terrific read because Oren has a mission: Defending&protecting the Jewish State of Israel.

George Soros: No friend of Israel

George Soros: “European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States”

President Obama

Sources say seemingly irreconcilable differences between the 2 main parties, Washington and Tehran.

Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.

Those who suggest further capitulation to Iran are wrongly harming the interests of the West.

Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.

US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi

New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

What makes a man dedicated to what is best, stray? What makes a leader, a rabbi, lose his way?

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Peace/Shalom/Wholeness: A gift conferred; earned and received by God’s grace; His blessing.

Lag B’Omer became the “Scholar’s Festival” reminding all that derech eretz kadmah l’Torah-

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God

It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

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: