It was the first Seder night. In the Maharal’s home the table was bedecked with all the fineries of Yom Tov. The house was ablaze with candles amid the festive atmosphere of the enjoyable holiday. Seated around the table were the many children and grandchildren of the rav as well as many invited guests. The Maharal sat in a snowy-white Kittel, resembling an angel.
They began the Seder. The youngest grandchild asked the Four Questions, the Haggadah was expounded upon and the many stories told were enjoyed by all present. After the meal, came time to open the door to admit Eliyahu HaNavi.
Suddenly the Maharal heard a terrible cry from the doorway. No one else in the room seemed to hear it, only he. When the long piercing wailing sound ended, the Maharal was startled to hear a soft voice whisper in his ear: “Arise, true shepherd of Israel, rescue your sheep are in terrible danger. Go to your synagogue and pray for your flock!”
The Maharal was dumbfounded. It appeared as if Eliyahu HaNavi were trying to warn him of an impending disaster. Jumping out of his chair, the Maharal rushed out of the house; in his haste he forgot to remove his kittel.
Entering the shul he noticed the Aron HaKodesh slightly opened. He approached and saw a bottle of wine near the Sifrei Torah. The shammas would usually keep the wine bottle in the ark. It was used to make Kiddush and Havdalah. Opening the bottle and smelling its contents, he realized it contained blood.
“A blood libel,” said the Maharal as his heart began to beat with fright. This wasn’t the first time that the enemies of the Jews used blood to start a massacre. They would usually claim that the Jews used the blood of a Christian for their matzoh and Pesach services. Finding it here in the Aron HaKodesh would serve as evidence of the truth of their claims. Hastily spilling out the blood he washed the bottle and refilled it with wine.
The following morning, the first day of Pesach, the community gathered in the shul. Davening began as usual, with the Maharal seated in his corner near the east wall.
Suddenly a commotion was heard in the rear. A battalion of soldiers had encircled the shul and the captain of the militia, accompanied by the Archbishop and the priest, entered. A deathly stillness descended upon the congregation as they watched the band of soldiers and priests walk down the aisle to approach the Maharal.
“You murderer!” shouted the Bishop. “You pray to your G-d with your lips while your hands are bloody from the murder of Christian children which you use for your services. This time we have caught you and it will be the last time that you can murder our children!”
The Maharal Loew stood calmly and in a quiet tone said: “How could you, Bishop, prove that we use blood, when we are prohibited by our Torah from even using the blood of an animal?”
Instead of answering, the anti-Semitic priest rushed over to the Holy Ark and drew out the bottle which he triumphantly turned over to the Bishop.
“Now, what do you say to this, you old murderer?” asked the Bishop, holding the bottle aloft. “This bottle contains the blood of our children.”
“Why don’t you taste it and see for yourself?” replied the Maharal.
The Bishop handed the bottle to a soldier who tasted it and cried: “It is wine!”
If a hole could have been dug in the floor the Bishop and the priest would have crawled into it. Amidst the jeers and hoots of the congregation they left the synagogue.