In Your Blood You Shall Live

BY RABBI DORON PEREZ

Adapted from Rav Doron’s hesped delivered at the funeral of Daniel hy”d.

Daniel – how is it possible for us to get through this funeral after 163 days of suffering?

We decided that it is possible, just as we were somehow able to have your injured brother Yonatan’s wedding to Galya, although you had been missing for 10 days.

How did we do it? We did it by focusing on what we have as opposed to what is sorely missing. We had Yonatan who was saved on that day and we decided to focus on him.

Today, Mom and I decided to focus on what we have.

We don’t yet have your body, which is unfortunately still held by the barbaric terrorists of Hamas. We will do all we can to bring it back for a dignified Jewish burial, but there is still a long journey to bring you home.

But we do have your blood.

The blood-stained shirt of your army uniform with your rank, and blood found in and around your tank that we were able to bury. We want to honor you, our son, a hero of Israel, and not focus today at all on the darkness and the loss. We have the rest of our lives to process that.

And so, our dear son, we decided to salute you, to bow our heads to you, to appreciate your self-sacrifice and courage. We came to honor you, all the members of your team, who ran with you like lions to protect others with incredible courage: Tomer Leibovich, Itay Chen, may Hashem avenge their death, and to differentiate between the deceased and the living, Matan Angrest, who is also held hostage in Gaza – we are praying for you Matan, Matan Shachar ben Anat. Stay strong and healthy, we are doing all we can for you to come home speedily, safe and sound, and in complete health.

Daniel, you saved so many lives with unwavering dedication to your mission. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came to see us just before we left for your funeral. He said that he believed your two-hour battle was amongst the most heroic he had ever heard of. You saved people in the Nachal Oz army base and you saved people in Kibbutz Nachal Oz. You know what, Daniel? It’s possible that you saved not only generations of people you don’t know, but perhaps you even saved the life of your brother, Yonatan. After all, Yonatan also fought later that day in Nachal Oz and was injured 100 yards from where you were taken. Had you not done what you did, who knows how many more terrorists may have ambushed Yonatan in the base that day. We don’t fully understand the ways of Heaven.

From within all the pain, Ribono Shel Olam, we thank You for saving Yonatan on that day. I don’t know why Daniel was chosen for this mission, and why it ended the way it did, but we are grateful for the great kindness You showed to Yonatan.

Blood. Blood is what we buried. The Torah teaches us that “blood is the life of a person” (Devarim 12:23). The vibrance, energy and liquid of life. And so it is absolutely forbidden to consume it.

And it is most certainly forbidden to spill it. Daniel, your blood was spilled, and we have buried it. But it was others who murdered you and spilled your blood. You and your friends fought until your last drops of blood to prevent the spilling of more blood.

Blood, דָּם, is the very essence of man. The Hebrew word for man, “אָדָם,” Adam, is rooted in the word “דָּם,” dam, in blood. In Hebrew, a person is termed “בָּשָׂר וָדָם, flesh and blood.” Blood is life. They shed the pure and holy blood of you and your crew and in the process destroyed their own humanity. As Hashem told Noach, “He who spills the blood of man, his blood will be spilled, for man was made in G-d’s image” (Bereishit 9:6). Those who spill blood destroy G-d’s image – and they themselves will be destroyed.

You formed and are part of a “בְּרִית דָּמִים, a covenant of blood.” Of brothers in arms, of mutual responsibility. It is the shared covenant of the Jewish nation, of fate and destiny written in blood.

The brit milah, the covenant of blood, is bound up with the covenant of the Land. “And I will give you and your seed after you the land of your sojournings, the entire land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them for a G-d” (Bereishit 17:8). At Mount Sinai, too, there was “דָּם הַבְּרִית, a covenant of blood”: “Behold the blood of the covenant, which Hashem has formed with you” (Shemot 24:8).

The bloody experience described by the prophet refers to our experience of the Exodus from Egypt: “When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you: ‘In your blood you shall live.’ Yes, I said to you: ‘In your blood you shall live’” (Yechezkel 16:6).

This verse, appearing in the Haggadah, makes a dual reference to blood. It refers, according to our Sages, to the blood of the Pesach sacrifice and of circumcision – dual blood covenants of Jewish fate and destiny.

We as Jews have an unshakable blood bond of common fate. And so I appeal to the government and parliament of Israel: there is a blood covenant between you and all our citizens. We trust that you will return all the fallen, amongst them the bodies of our son Daniel and Itay. We are relying on you to return Matan and all the soldiers, all the citizens, elderly and children. There is a covenant of blood between us.

To our leaders, and all our beloved people: The fresh blood of our son is the blood of our shared covenant. It reminds us of the blood of the brit milah and the beginning of our collective journey which binds us all together. We must never go back to what happened before October 7, before Simchat Torah, when Hamas painfully reminded us who we are. There are still 134 hostages trapped in Gaza, and to an extent, all of us are trapped there, for we are one nation. We are not “a fragile cobweb” as Nasrallah often says. We are not a weak society, but one built with bonds of love, mutual responsibility, swords of iron – the bonds of a blood covenant. This is not weakness, this is strength. “In your blood you shall live.”

I want to end with one final note about blood. I only noticed this year how similar blood is to wine and how interrelated they are in Judaism. The thing that is most similar in appearance to blood is wine. They are both thick blood-red liquid substances. Red wine is always the halachic preference for wine at all salient Jewish occasions. During the brit milah, when the blood of the baby is present, we drink red wine.

On Purim, when so much Jewish blood was almost spilled, there was also much wine present at all the many banquets in the Megillah. At the last moment we were saved from the spilling of blood and we drink lots of wine on Purim. Blood was transformed into wine of celebration.

At the Seder, we spill drops of wine, symbolizing blood which was spilled. We drink four cups of wine which punctuate the entire evening.

We completed our shiva on Purim. From within the darkness and pain we rose up and drank wine at our Seudat Purim. That is who we are as a nation – we are a people who know how to turn blood into wine. The difficulties and suffering, the maror and the matzah, the bitterness and bread of affliction, are eaten together with the delicious taste of the Korban Pesach, the celebration, and the wine. Bitterness ought never to define us. The challenge, pain and blood are all part of the story, but they are not the story itself. The story is one of resilience and redemption, of freedom and destiny.

We pray to Hashem: “Our Father, our King, do for the sake of the spilled blood of Your servants.”

As Your servant Moshe concluded in the Ha’azinu song: “The nations should acclaim G-d’s people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, wreak vengeance on His foes, and cleanse His people’s Land” (Devarim 32:43).

We know that the power of life which we so deeply believe in will ultimately triumph over those who celebrate death. And the blood of the covenant that runs so deep, the blood of our son that we buried, this blood will overpower the spilling of blood. We know with certainty that those who believe we are all created in G-d’s image will defeat those who have lost any semblance of that image. 

Daniel – in your blood, you shall live.

 

Rabbi Doron Perez is the Executive Chairman of World Mizrachi.

© 2024 World Mizrachi

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