Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event
Although the Torah often points out the infinite value of every human life, this week’s parshah gives a clear message about the value of Jewish life. We are told that no one will be permitted to murder Jews with impunity.
In the Shirat Hayam (Song at the Sea), Moses and the Jewish people use three expressions to describe the downfall of the Egyptians. The Egyptians drowning in the sea are described as “they descended in the depths like stone” (Exodus 15:5). In a second expression, Moses describes the defeat of the Egyptians in the following manner: “You sent forth Your wrath it consumes them like straw” (Exodus 15:7). There is one other image used to portray the drowning: The Jews sing out that “they sank as lead in the mighty waters” (Exodus 15:10).
One could claim these phrases seem contradictory. Did the Egyptians sink like stone, like straw or like lead? Which was it?
Rashi notes that these variant similes are descriptive of different Egyptians who were punished in accordance with what they deserved. The most wicked were tossed around like weightless straw – they were allowed to brutally suffer. The best of the group drowned like lead, which of course sinks immediately, so they suffered the least. Those who did not fall into any clear category sank like stones.
What emerges from Rashi is the precision of punishment; moreover, the clear statement that those who were guilty of oppressing and murdering Jews would receive their due.
In 1956 Rabbi Yosef B. Soloveitchik wrote that with the establishment of the State of Israel, “God…suddenly manifested Himself.” One such manifestation was that “Jewish blood is not free for taking, is not hefker” (Kol Dodi Dofek).
With the establishment of the state, Rav Soloveitchik declared, one could sense God’s presence in that Jews would be protected. No one would be able to spill blood in Israel without a strong response. The Jewish community in Israel was sending a message to Jews in the exile who felt more vulnerable: “Don’t be afraid.”
Even as we seek peace, Jewish life is precious. One can only hope that Israel will find peace while keeping true to the principle of “Jewish blood is not cheap.”
About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
If you had an important court date scheduled – one that would determine your financial future, or even your very life – you’d be sure to prepare for weeks beforehand. On Rosh Hashanah, each individual is judged on the merit of his deeds. Whether he will live out the year or not. Whether he will […]
It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.
First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)
Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?
When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.
Shoftim: The Line Between Murder And Apathy
Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.
He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.
On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”
On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.
If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?
Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.
The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.
Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.
Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.
Rav Kook of blessed memory, who said that no matter where a Jew is born, he is born in Israel.
One must act as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God.
When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.
Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/jewish-blood-is-not-cheap/2014/01/10/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: