Reflections on Abortion & Infanticide from a Jewish Perspective

 

by Don Feder

 

I gave this address a year ago: We need to keep talking about the savage roots of the abortion mentality.

When I was a kid (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), my favorite TV shows

were “The Adventures of Superman” and “The Lone Ranger.”

 

Remember the way “The Lone Ranger” opened: “Return with us now to those thrilling

days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great Horse

Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.”

 

Well, apologies to the masked man and his faithful Indian companion, but those days

of yesteryear often weren’t that thrilling. In antiquity, they were frequently barbaric, bloody

and brutal. 

 

It was a time when human sacrifice, infanticide and the carnage of the arena were

commonplace. People as diverse as the Carthaginians, Etruscans, Canaanites, Celts, Aztecs,

Incas and Hawaiians sacrificed adults or babies to appease the gods, ward off natural

disaster, and assure good harvests or victory in battle. In Carthage between 800 BC and 146

BC., it is estimated 20,000 infants were ritually sacrificed.

 

 

Infanticide was also common. Infants who were deformed or unwanted were left to

die from exposure or be eaten by wild animals. Even Aristotle approved of the practice.

The Romans (who thought human sacrifice was barbaric ) preferred bloodshed in the

arena – in gladiatorial contests, or the execution of criminals or prisoners of war. To celebrate

his conquest of Dacia (modern Romania), the Emperor Trajan had 123 days of games, in

which more than 9,000 gladiators fought.

 

In Rome, a father (pater familias) had absolute power over his household, including

the right to disinherit, sell or kill any of his children for any reason.

All of that started to change 3,000 years ago with the giving of the Torah at Sinai.

According to Jewish tradition, half-a-million souls were there to hear the voice of God, amidst

the fire and smoke.

 

The Declaration of Independence proclaims that certain truths are “self-evident”

(meaning obviously true, requiring no proof) – “that all men are created equal and endowed

by their Creator” with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

But said rights aren’t “self-evident.” In the ancient world, power flowed from the ruler

down to a favored few (nobles, warriors, priests and the rich). The poor and powerless were

considered inconsequential – objects to be used and disposed of by others. If you told them

that the peasant grubbing in his field had inalienable rights, they would have stared at you in

dumb disbelief.

 

Not until Sinai – with its positive and negative commandments -- did the concept of

human rights appear. The Torah tells us that God created man “in His image,” that as He is

holy, we were to be holy, and that we were to treat others as God’s unique creations, not as

objects to satisfy our desires.

 

The Mishna Torah says: “Therefore, Adam was created singly, to teach us that whoever

destroys a single life in Israel is considered by Scripture to have destroyed the whole world,

and whoever saves a single life… is considered … to have saved the whole world.” Shortly

after the account of Creation, the Bible tells us that Cain was punished for shedding his

brother’s blood.

 

Two of God’s attributes are justice and mercy. If we are to emulate Him, we must ask

ourselves: Is abortion just? Is abortion merciful? Or is it a denial of God and a reversion to

human sacrifice – this time to an idol called “choice”?

 

The vision of Sinai found its highest expression in America, especially in our

Constitution. That’s how we were able to build a civilization on these shores that became the

wonder of the world in the blink of an eye, in terms of recorded history.

 

To give you an idea of Sinai’s profound influence on our republic, on the doors leading

to the Supreme Court’s courtroom, there’s a carving representing twin tablets with the

Roman numerals 1 through 10. Sometimes, guides tell visitors that they represent the first 10

Amendments to the Constitution.  In reality, they are there to remind us of a much older code

of law.

 

For the Great Seal of the United States, Franklin proposed a depiction of Moses

leading the Children of Israel through the Red Sea.

 

Today, the vision of Sinai is being rapidly replaced by another vision, a darker vision During the

Second World War, Winston Churchill warned that an Axis victory would herald “a new Dark

Age made more sinister and perhaps more protracted by the lights of perverted science.”

 

When abortion was legalized in New York State, prior to Roe v. Wade, the great

Talmudist Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik predicted, “If you kill a fetus, a time will come when

even infants will be killed.” Been there. Done that.

 

We’ve gone from abortion to infanticide to euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

Instead of acknowledging our common humanity, because we were all made in the image of

God, increasingly, we play God with the lives of others.

 

But, what goes around comes around. 

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 admonishes: “This day I call the heavens and the earth as

witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now

choose life, so that you may live, you and your children.” 

This applies not only to individuals, but to nations and civilizations as well. Where are

the Babylonians, the Persians and the Phoenicians? In the words of Mark Twain, they have

“faded to dream stuff and passed away.” Twain added “The Jew saw them all and beat them

all,” not by any innate virtue but by the power of Torah.

 

You choose life and you get life. You choose death and you get death. For more than

half-a-century, we have chosen death – death by abortion, death by euthanasia, and death by

rapidly falling fertility, due to a refusal to marry and have children.

The choice before us is stark – blessings or curses, life or death, Sinai or savagery and

oblivion.

 

 

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We ask our readers to consider the closing with an eye to action, not dire focus on the death. Whenever we are faced by death, we have the opportunity to respond with life and joy. The choice is always there: So let's take it by the horns, and lead. Join or start an MCFL Chapter of Advocates today by checking out the page here


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