Photo Credit: Courtesy
The last picture of Cpt. Daniel Perez, taken Friday afternoon, October 6, close to his base in Southern Israel.

Our son Captain Daniel Perez, z”l, will be missing from our seder table this year.

After a heroic battle for the protection of Nachal Oz and having been a hostage for 163 days in Gaza, we were informed that Daniel fell in battle on October 7 along with members of his tank crew – Itai Chen and Tomer Leibowitz, z”l. Itai’s and his body are still cruelly held in Gaza along with 133 hostages – some alive and some dead. Daniel fell on Simchat Torah with over 300 soldiers that day, 900 civilians and subsequently over 300 additional soldiers in the defense of Israel. Over 1,500 loved ones will be missing from their family seder tables from this war alone. Some, if they are not home by Pesach Heaven-forbid, will be eating the dry bread of affliction in the Gazan House of Bondage.


For the first time in the 50 years since the Yom Kippur War, we experienced a genuine sense of a threat of annihilation. Indeed, every time we sit at the Pesach seder to retell the history of our people to our children, we record a clear and chilling comment of our Sages: “In every generation they stand over us ready to annihilate us.”

In the attempt of Pharaoh to destroy the Jewish people in Egypt, our Sages saw not a one-off event but a tragic consistent theme of history. There will always be those, in every single generation, who instead of embracing the light and love of life of the Jewish people, attempt to extinguish it. Prioritizing hatred over happiness and death over life.

In every generation a different Pharaoh-type enemy of the Jewish people emerges. The 20th century has been no exception. After the Russian pogroms and Soviet Gulags emerged the worst and most wicked incarnation – Hitlerian Nazism. Hitler built an entire national ideology on the idea of the decimation of the Jewish race. This despicable hatred came to an end with his demise, and ultimate destruction of Nazi Germany in 1945. One destroyer died and another emerged in the next epoch upon the establishment of Israel in 1948. Led by Egypt, five Arab armies attacked Israel on the day after its establishment and for the next twenty-five years engaged in a systematic effort to destroy and annihilate the Jewish state. The Jewish people’s collective attempt at statehood had an enemy born the same day with an ongoing onslaught to annihilate it. This attempt essentially came to an end in 1979 when Egypt, the most powerful enemy of Israel’s neighbors, made peace. This peace with Israel has held for almost forty-five years – it is a cold peace but one that has held nonetheless. Peace with Jordan would later follow and essentially this was the decline of the imminent existential threat at the hands of Israel’s Sunni Arab neighbors.

I only realized recently the following incredible fact which highlights the veracity of the tragic truism of the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people in every generation. In the very year of peace between Israel and their most powerful enemy, Egypt, in 1979, something else of critical significance happened. The Shah of Iran, whose regime had been pro-Western for decades, was overthrown by the fanatical Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 Islamic Revolution. A new diabolical and destructive enemy of Israel was born. Although the Iranians are not Arabs and Israel has never had a border dispute with Iran, an inexplicable and irrational hatred of the Jewish state emerged from this new fanatical ferment. For 45 years now, the Iranian regime of the Ayatollahs have single-mindedly been aspiring for both regional if not global hegemony, as well as for the destruction of Israel. Aspiring for nuclear capability and becoming the greatest global driver of terrorism, Iran and her terror proxies of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, and the Houthis in Yemen, have created a ring of terror around Israel. Incredibly, Arab driven hatred became Persian; Sunni became Shiite and the modern incarnation of Haman-like Persian annihilationism was born.


The Good News

Although this seems frightening, the Hagaddah’s comment of the constant ongoing threat of Jewish annihilation is not the whole story. The same paragraph of the “Vehi She’amda” in the Haggadah has a pretext and a postscript:

Blessed is the one who keeps his promise to Israel, Blessed is He. And it is this (promise) that has stood for our forefathers and for us that in every generation they attempt to annihilate us, and the Holy One Blessed be He saves us from their hands.

Although there is an ongoing threat and a curse, there is a protection and a blessing. Hashem made a promise to our forefathers that although there are those who wish to destroy us in every generation, He commits to fulfill His promise to protect us. In every generation, by the grace of G-d, we somehow manage to both survive and thrive. The enemy eventually either self-destructs or makes peace and the Jewish people seemingly miraculously eventually emerge even stronger.

The illuminating power of light and love of life will triumph over the shadow of death and glorification of hatred and destruction.

May Hashem have mercy on His people and may all fair-minded people stand strong in the face of barbarism and hypocrisy.

The eternity of Israel will prevail.

It always has and Hashem has promised that it always will.

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Rabbi Doron Perez is the executive chairman of World Mizrachi.