A Second Passover in Buchenwald

In April 1945—two days after Buchenwald had been liberated, and a week after Passover had ended—survivors at the camp gathered for a belated holiday celebration where they eagerly ate shards of matzah and celebrated their freedom alongside that of their ancestors in Egypt. Meir Soloveichik notes the similarities between this moving, ad-hoc ceremony and the biblical Pesaḥ sheni, literally “Second Passover.”

The origin of “Second Passover” is described in the book of Numbers, in a tale that occurred one year after the Exodus itself. Remembering the liberation a year before, the Israelites in the desert assemble to sacrifice the paschal lamb, as they had in Egypt twelve months prior. Several Israelites, however, had just recently buried a dead body; this contact necessitated a seven-day ritual defilement, preventing them from engaging in sacrificial rituals associated with the tabernacle. . . . For these individuals, defiled by the dead, to be sidelined from the celebration was to be cut off from “among the children of Israel,” from their very portion in the people itself.

In response, the Almighty informs Moses that from then on, a day would be set aside, a month after Passover, for the bringing of the paschal offering by those previously prevented from doing so—for those in a state of defilement because of the burial of a loved one, and for those who could not reach Jerusalem in time for Passover.

Though the day is not named in the Bible, it was Jewish tradition that lovingly bestowed the phrase “Second Passover” upon it, capturing how it symbolized a second chance to celebrate freedom, the potential for a second opportunity for celebration when the first was lost.

Is there a better parallel to the origin of Second Passover—those defiled by the dead ultimately celebrating freedom—than a liberation celebration of survivors following an encounter with the ultimate embodiment of death? And is there a biblical day, established so many millennia ago, whose symbolism more strikingly joins together all the modern markings this month, of the Holocaust and the birth of Israel, of Jewish life after Jewish death?

Read more at Commentary

More about: Holocaust, Judaism, Passover

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security