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Parshat Kedoshim: Child Sacrifice in Gaza

One of the Torah prohibitions in last week’s parsha and in this week’s as well is that “One should not pass any of their children to (the god of) Molech.” This practice of idol worhip is briefly mentioned last week, however in this week’s parsha of Kedoshim, five full verses are devoted to the punishment not only of the perpetrator but also of anyone who pretends to ignore him. 

There is a difference of opinions among Jewish scholars as to what exactly took place during this Molech ceremony. Rambam/Maimonides is of the opinion that it entailed an ancient ritual of parents handing over their child to the Molech priest who would then pass the child between two rows of fire. Ramban/Nachmanides says it went beyond that and that the child was slain as a child sacrifice. 

Child Sacrifice – my guess is that, if you have children, you probably never entertained the notion of sacrificing your child to a god. We don’t run into this problem too much in our society. At least not literally. Figuratively, that’s another story. And one could argue that Child Sacrifice does happen in some locales. 

So why would anyone in their right mind wish to do such a thing? Sefer HaChinuch, a 13th century work by an unknown author that summarizes all 613 commandments, offers an idea. He says that the prohibition specifically applies to someone who has more than one child. The Molech priests would assure the parents that by sacrificing one of their children to their god, it would guarantee the success of the rest of the kids and that blessing and goodness would come to the family. So the idea is that by offering one of their children, it will in turn benefit everybody else. 

Yeah, pretty perverse. But when you think about it, is it really so different than Palestinians who encourage their children to dangerously engage the IDF and confront them by throwing rocks and rioting against a much better equipped soldier? And if something happens and the child is killed, well so be it, he becomes a shaheed, dying for holy jihad and thereby bringing blessing on the rest of his family. Not only that but wealth as well in the form of payments from the Palestinian Authority who will pay the family handsomely in perpetuity. 

Hamas has gone even further. Isn’t Hamas doing exactly this on a grand scale, utilizing more than children – but men and women as well – to die for the sake of a so-called greater good – namely, of their ultimate goal to destroy Israel, Jews and anyone else who prevents a fanatical Islamic regime?  

So it’s really not that much different than the ancient Molech practice. Sacrifice one or more loved ones for the perverse notion of a greater good for everyone else. I am sure the priests of Molech assured the parents that the sacrificing child will receive all kinds of heavenly rewards, much the same way Hamas promises families of their so-called martyrs whom Hamas use as human shields. 

So while we may read of this ancient, barbaric rite and dismiss it as no longer meaningful in our modern world, the truth is that Hamas has perfected and expanded the Molech evil in our time.

But what about something closer to home? Any Molech-like activities happening in the suburbs of Weston or Boca Raton? How about when parents have their children do things that are really not in the child’s interest but moreso in the interest of the parent? Because that’s what Molech is all about according to the Sefer HaChinuch isn’t it? Discarding the needs and good of the child for the needs and good of others such as Mom, Dad and siblings. 

I am not talking about telling your child that they must do things for their good and welfare such as go to school, brush their teeth and make their bed. But what about compelling them to into activities, life-styles, sports and the like that the child hates and wants no part of – but must do because that is what the parents force them to because of what society dictates to be good and true.

A parent has to be pretty honest to see if they are influencing their child according to the good of that child, or maybe using the kid as a means for unfulfilled dreams and aspirations the parents have for themselves. That too can be construed as Molech-like behavior. It’s not so uncommon when parents put their own needs, reputations and societal standing before the good of their child. 

But wait a moment. What’s the difference, you will ask, between raising your children to follow the Torah and Mitzvot, sending them to Jewish schools and yeshivot? Isn’t that also brainwashing them into the parent’s particular ideology? Aren’t we also sacrificing them on an altar of our personal beliefs? 

Perhaps. But I would rather go with a philosophy and way of life that has positively influenced the world with its Judeo-Christian (read: Jewish) values for thousands of years and has been the bedrock of the success of Western society. That along with providing a child with a healthy set of values that Judaism offers.

Molech was pretty barbaric and unfortunately we still see similar behavior among Israel’s enemies. Hopefully one day they will see the evil and immorality of such a philosophy and we will get to witness the fulfillment of the words of Golda Meir: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”

Standing now
Calling all the people here to see the show
Calling for my Demons now to let me go…
You can’t steal the things that God has given me
No more pain and no more shame and misery
-Michael Kiwanuka

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