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Thursday
Apr032014

AND THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED IS HE, SAVES US FROM THEIR HANDS

11 Nissan / April 1, 1882. Hungary

Mrs. Solymosi raced through the streets of Tiszaeszlár, a Hungarian village. She was frantically looking for her daughter, Eszter, who had disappeared.

The Solymosi family were Christian peasants and their fourteen year old daughter worked as a maid for a Christian family. One day, she was sent on an errand from which she never returned. Her mother was sure that she was in the house where she worked as a maid, but that wasn’t so. A few days had gone by already and she had not appeared there.

The worried mother asked whoever she saw, “Did you see my daughter? A tall, thin girl with long, blond hair?” She even showed people a picture of her daughter, but nobody could tell her where her daughter was. They all shook their heads no, while some looked at her pityingly and wished her luck in finding her daughter.

Yosef Scharf, the shamash in the shul, was walking to the shul for davening. Eszter’s mother met him too, and stopped him with her question, did he perhaps know where her daughter was?

Yosef was a simple man and was not gifted with an abundance of intelligence. Instead of saying he did not know, he began to console her and said, “Don’t worry, your daughter will come back home. See, a year ago, around Passover time, a Christian boy disappeared and nobody knew where he was. Cruel people wanted to make up lies against the Jews as though to say they murdered him and used his blood to bake matzos for Passover. Oy, what a ridiculous claim. Who uses blood to bake matza? Anyway, in the end, the boy was found and he returned home in fine condition. You’ll see, your daughter will also return home.”

The woman did not need more than this. These few sentences were enough for her to decide that the Jews were the ones who had taken her daughter and who knew what they did to her …

She rushed to the police station with a horrifying claim. “My dear daughter vanished a few days ago. I am sure that the Jews kidnapped her. They probably killed her in order to use her blood to bake matza for their holiday.”

The police commander was thrilled to hear this. He was an ardent Jew hater and this was a golden excuse to harm the Jews.

He nodded understandingly and said, “I think that your suspicion is justified. The same week that your daughter disappeared, three Jewish ritual slaughterers came here in order to be tested so as to be accepted as ritual slaughterers in the Jewish community. Who knows, maybe they committed a criminal act.”

He dismissed the woman with the promise that he would research the matter and bring the Jews to justice.

The commander, with hatred for the Jews burning in his bones, got to work. He called over the shamash’s little boy who was also not that clever. He wickedly bribed the boy with gifts and convinced the child to testify that he himself had seen through the keyhole of the synagogue as the Jews took the girl and murdered her.

The evil commander took the boy to his house and watched over him well, so nobody could approach him and talk to him and convince him to say otherwise.

That same day, policemen burst into the shul, blocked the exit and took whoever had the misfortune of being there at the time. Fifteen Jews were taken in chains and brought to the police commander. The savage man tortured them until they felt they had no choice but to confess to something they did not do.

The story became known internationally. Explanations that Jews do not use blood to bake matza and in general, the Torah commands us not to consume blood fell on deaf ears.

Two months went by. A Jew and two Christians were on a raft in the river when they saw a body of a girl floating on the water. They pulled the body out of the river and discovered that she was the missing girl. A doctor examined her and said that no human being had done her any harm. It seemed the girl had fallen into the river and drowned.

The news spread and the Jews breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, the farce was revealed to all and the unfortunate prisoners would be released. But their joy did not last long. The vicious commander did not give up. He tortured the three men who found the girl and forced them to “confess” that they had brought the girl from somewhere else and had thrown her into the river in order to remove the suspicion from the Jews.

Once again, the Jews were in mourning. They prayed and pleaded to Hashem that He help them.

The court case took place one year later. Journalists from around the world were in attendance. The Jews were extremely tense about how the case would go. Jews all over the world prayed and said T’hillim, hoping a miracle would take place and their innocence would be revealed to all.

A miracle occurred. A Christian by the name of Károly Eötvös, who was a learned person and an upright individual, was able to prove the absurdity of the accusation. He had the police commander go to the shul, close the door, and try to see through the keyhole. It turned out that nothing could be seen through the keyhole.

The commander’s face turned colors when it was demonstrated before everyone that the accusation had no basis. The Jewish prisoners were released after being in prison for seventeen months for no reason. The results of the trial were publicized around the world.

As we say in the Hagada, “in every generation they rise up against us to destroy us, and the Holy One blessed is He saves us from their hands.”

 

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