Thursday, March 02, 2006

Kiddush haShem

The hand of the Lord rested heavily on His people, and all the Gentiles assembled against the Jews in the courtyard to exterminate them... When the people of the Sacred Covenant saw that the Heavenly decree has been issued and that the enemy had defeated them and were entering the courtyard, they all cried out together - old and young, maiden and children, menservants and maids - to their Father in Heaven... "There is no questioning the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He and blessed be His Name, Who has given us His Torah and has commanded us to allow ourselves to be killed and slain in witness to the Oneness of His Holy Name..."
Then in a great voice they all cried out as one: "We need tarry no longer, for the enemy is already upon us. Let us hasten and offer ourselves as a sacrifice before God. Anyone posessing a knife should examine it to see that it is not defective, and let him proceed to slaughter us in sanctification of the Unique and Eternal One, then slaying himself - either cutting his throat or thrusting the knife into his stomach."

The women girded their loins with strength and slew their own sons and daughters, and then themselves. Many men also mustered their strength and slaughtered their wives and children and infants. The most gentle of women slaughtered the child of her delight. They all arose, man and woman alike, and slew one another..."

"The chronicle of Solomon bar Simson" - Shlomo Eidelberg, the Jews and the Crusaders

A Jew is commanded to take his life rather than commit idolatry, incest, or murder. For some reason, I have been thinking about this commandment to kill oneself and one's family rather to submit to idolatry. Would I have the strength to do this? Would many of the people whom I know? How about the readers of this blog, the ones that have accepted the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven? Is this really what G-d wants us to do?

I know that there have been lenient rulings with respect to categorizing Muslims as idolators, and doubt regarding Christianity, but what about in clear cut cases? Will your hand not waver?


Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

I have no idea what I'll do until I'm in that situation, to be honest.

March 02, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger dbs said...

I'm krum, so you don't have to take my word for this, but here is what I heard R' Moshe Heineman say about this:

If you have a sofek about a y'hureg v'al ya'avor, be meikil. If you're wrong, you can still do t'shuvah.

There's a book called "In the Year 1096" which recounts the little that is known about the attacks on jewish communities during the crusades. Entire communities died rather than be converted.

This isn't the halachah, but for me it makes a huge difference if you are being compelled to change your religion, or just to commit an act of 'avodah zarah'.

In any case, killing my kids, I don't think so.

March 02, 2006 9:23 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

For those who are not quite as facile with Yiddish/Hebrew, who may be reading these comments...

Krum - crooked in German - I believe means that dbs is no longer observant.

A sofek is a doubt, y'hureg v'al ya'avor means to die rather than sin, meikil means lenient, and t'shuva means repentence.

I believe in the case of the Rhineland massacres, it was not a single act of idolatry.

March 02, 2006 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

A risk was taken in any event as even those willing to convert were sometimes killed anyway. Who can trust a mob situation?

November 05, 2007 10:35 PM  

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