Sanctity of Life

It is said in Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 that

Humans were created singly, to teach you that whoever destroys a single soul, Scripture accounts it as if he had destroyed a full world; and whoever saves one soul, Scripture accounts it as if she had saved a full world.

With Israel agreeing to exchange for Gilad Shalit’s release 1,000 prisoners, most of whom are Hamas members and many who have killed Israelis in the past, this passage takes on new meaning. This is a battle of worlds destroyed and worlds saved. Israel has clearly decided that to save one Israeli life is worth the release of 1,000 who may kill again.

One Israeli life for 1,000 Palestinian ones. This certainly makes one think about how the two sides view the sanctity of life. Israel was willing to pay an extremely high price to free one of its own. Hamas refused to release Shalit until Israel agreed to release 1,000.

Then in America today, it was revealed that terrorists allied with Iran were plotting to kill the ambassador to America from Saudi Arabia as well as to bomb both the Saudi and Israeli embassies. Many Americans would have died in the planned attacks. It is said that the Iranians involved were ones connected to the Quds Force, part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and that they were acting with some official sanction. In essence, Iranians were attempting to perpetrate three major acts of war on American soil with complete disregard to any potential civilian casualties. To use the language that I used earlier, they had no regard for the sanctity of life. These are destroyers of worlds.

This day we have seen what it means to believe that to save one life is like saving the world entire and what it means when one believes that no life is sacred at all. To use the words many of us read in the Torah this weekend, “Choose life that you may live.” Gilad Shalit is to become a free man at last!!! Let us hope that blessings follow.


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