From the Top of Masada

A timely lesson while traveling with's mission to Israel.

Comments (17)

(17) Raisy, November 7, 2010 3:46 AM


Rachel Imeinu was known for her 'vatranus' she gave up (sacrificed?) her marriage to Yakov to save her sister from humiliation. Again, this was a choice she made when faced with a conflict. She did not 'look' for something to sacrifice.

(16) Raisy, November 7, 2010 3:45 AM

what did they sacrifice themselves for?

The way I understand it is that the Jews at Masada knew that if the Roman's captured them they would be enslaved--a completely humiliating and dehumanizing experience in ancient Rome. The women would be defiled, something abhorred in Jewish law--though probably not 'yehareg v'al ya'avor' since they were not going willingly. They would likely be killed in barbaric, torturous ways--think gladiators. There are some Rabbis who hold that the suicide committed was not warranted. They are not faulted, however, since, as listed above, the alternatives were dreadful. The question of whether the Zealots were wrong in engaging the militarily superior Romans in battle is more clear cut: the Rabbis were certainly opposed to this and the Zealots are blamed for much of the death and destruction that resulted from their aggresion. As far as sacrifice is concerned: it's not a mitzva in the Torah--unless we're talking about animal sacrifices. So much of Torah and mitzvos is about giving--giving tzedaka, doing chessed, bearing and raising children, extending oneself to the poor, oppressed, the widow, the orphan, etc. Yes the money spent on a yeshiva/Bais Yakov education and on all other mitzvos is what we give to live a Torah life. We are not meant to see it as a sacrifice: Rather it is 'ten lo mishelo' --we are giving to G-d from what He has given us. I'm not sure 'sacrifice' is a Jewish concept. We don't need to look for things to give up; leading a sincere Torah-observant life will require us to do plenty of giving. When there is a conflict between something we want or a mitzva--then mitzva needs to win out--perhaps then there is sacrifice. But we don't go looking for things to sacrifice. It is not a mitzva to incur pain or suffer. It sounds like more of a Christian concept to me.

(15) Anonymous, November 3, 2010 2:52 AM

Agreed with number 4

In fact, I agree with meir. Look at what we do in order to show our Jewish pride. In a mall, when we are starving, and the food looks scrumptious in the food section, we refrain, we sacrifice. We spend enormous amounts of money on kosher food, tuition, charity, housing- All because we need to be close to each other, and better ourselves through positive acts of goodness and kindness. The issue is, how will we, and the next generation realize that these are truly sacrifices? Clearly, and hopefully, we have not and will not need to make sacrifices as in past generations. Here in the states, we feel relatively safe, and even proud to be jewish. What I suggest we do is remind ourselves of the reasons we do what we do. When we refrain from eating non kosher, or give charity, or pay high tuition, we should verbalize- to ourselves and to our children, that we are doing this because we love God and because we are proud to give of ourselves for Him and for the Jewish Nation. In this way, on our level, we are doing what others have had to do in other generations, albeit in a modified way. This message can be imbued in our children as well if we have the right attitude, as they will realize that all the small sacrifices we make are well worth it.

(14) Lisa Youngworth, November 3, 2010 1:19 AM

Loved Ones

My son gives me such nachas!! He graduated college 06/10, made Aliyah 10/10 and plans to join the IDF. He is sacrificing his comfortable Southern California Beach lifestyle, having his loving family and many friends close by, his time, and his money. I am sacrificing having my dear son nearby. Thank G-d for Skype! And airplanes...

(13) ju-buoy, November 3, 2010 12:32 AM

TMay is right on!!

Please,everyone,,dont dismiss TMay's comments as right wing.Times are a chang'in and we as jews,MUST SEE THE WRITING ON THE WALL AND VOTE OUT A MAN WHO's best friend is a hate-filled anti-semite ,preacher that only wants our destruction.

(12) Elkanah, November 2, 2010 9:03 PM

To Lisa......

Good point!

(11) Anonymous, November 2, 2010 8:37 PM

Sometimes sacrifice is necessary. Coming to terms with what you value and what you are willing to sacrifice may help build character. But pay attention to the following quote attributed to General George Patton: "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." Looking around Israel you can see many places where people made sacrifices. But most of what you see is what people built and the result of investment.. Sacrifice is a last resort. Try to achieve your goals at lesser cost if you can.

(10) Joy Comes, November 2, 2010 8:22 PM

Read TMay, Item (2) -- and don't sacrifice to Baal

Just this morning I awoke thinking, 'I don't really know WHY Rome reluctantly destroyed Jerusalem. What should Judah have done differently?' TMay's comment (2) partially answers my question. I would say it shows how we can sacrifice to Baal -- that is to a destructive end, despite our good intention. For instance, destroying the food and water was a sacrifice imposed by the Zealots. But how did the Zealots achieve this preeminence? Why were they so certain of their cause? Baal is seductive, masquerading as a power to save the people. How can we discern to make wise sacrifices, in the face of ambiguity, media propaganda, schedule overload and information overwhelm? I like TMay's answer, and would add, --don't just say 'I think...' The issues are too important to settle for 'I think.' Listen to the other side; double check assumptions. Don't settle for info-bites. Follow the money. Ask 'Who will pay for this?' Sacrifice Certainty. Listen respectfully. And PRAY for guidance, personally and nationally.

(9) joel kirstein, November 2, 2010 8:19 PM

what is a sacrifice

when one goes out of his way, at the most inconvient time to fullfill a mitzvah and feels the pain, be it financial, hunger, or any other kind of pain, thats when you know you did something that made a difference in this world that we live in.

(8) Thomas, November 2, 2010 6:48 PM

Thank you!

Thank you for sharing. I am in the USA and have never been to Israel. I long to be there, but while I am here I commit myself to The Land, to Her G_d and mine, and to Her people and mine. Shalom!

(7) Steven A. Kirschner, November 2, 2010 6:37 PM

Never Again

Each & every Graduating Class in becoming Israeli Soldiers give Respect to those who in apparent Defeat to the Romans, made a very sad event a Victory of the Human Spirit

(6) ruth housman, November 2, 2010 4:02 PM


it's interesting, this notion of sacrifice, because surely those who do lay down their lives for others, for a greater cause, have done something noble, in their actions, if of course this is the personal meaning. As people have pointed out on this line, through commentary, there are many sacrifices we undergo in this story, this narrative that is about a life, meaning any life. It's a journey. I believe we come to sacrifice in different ways. Certainly every one has a story, and at some time within that story we do sacrifice, so many things. The little and the big, are actually equivalent I was told, by a rabbi. Big equals Small. Small equals Big, when it comes to the "mitzvot". As to sacrificing for Israel, I believe there will always be great hearts and souls, that do move us, deeply, and their stories, belong in the pantheon of those who are to be deeply admired and emulated. As to the individual, we learn through example, and we do provide examples, within our very own lives in how we live this story called LIFE. Compassion and Love is universal, and not just for the Jews. It's the "juice" that keeps giving, and we're all in this, most cosmic story, Together!

(5) Kevin, November 2, 2010 3:12 PM

Learning Sacrifice

Sacrifice is something that a blessed people must learn I guess. I think sacrifice is giving up something dear to oneself, be it a long held tradition, or a cherished object for the sake of what is right rather than for the sake of reward. The mere whole-hearted willingness to do that brings Diving Light and blessings for ones heritage... Consider what Abraham was asked to sacrifice and willingly went about doing, or Job's, or others. Consider the convert who sacrifices family ties and traditions for the love of the God of Israel. Consider something as simple as sacrificing income, etc., to keep the Sabbath. Consider the mother and father who put their own goals and dreams aside to ensure a secure, moral, Torah-based life for their children. There are many ways to sacrifice, but true sacrifice is made without expectation of reward, for no better reason that because it is right, because of love absent the fear of loss; it is selfless and unconditional.

(4) Meir, November 1, 2010 4:03 PM

Jewish Education is a Sacrifice

When a Jewish family spends over $1000 per month per child to provide their children with a Jewish day school education, it is indeed a sacrifice. What would you do with an extra $4000 per month to spend if the kids went to Public School? If that's not a sacrifice, I don't know what is!

(3) TMay, November 1, 2010 4:04 AM


The Far Left has asked Jews to turn on their own "to be accepted." Stop. You don't have to turn on Jews, nor abandon Israel. You don't have to accept the Far Left Dem definition of "a good person" in order to be a good person. They don't have a monopoly. You can be a good person and you can be Jewish and you can stand with Israel and with your people all at the same time. All you have to do is to walk away from the Far Left. Stop giving away your power to them to define you. The GOP likes Jews who are Jewish. They have Judeo Christian values. If you were giving advice to a child who was was being rejected by people he/she thought were friends, you would tell the child to go find new friends. The Far Left is in the pocket of the Islamists. The Islamists have more money. The Far Left is secular. The Far Left has a broken moral compass and they only serve their own agenda. They are running on empty. They don't really stand for women's rights, nor gay rights, nor civil rights, nor freedom, nor democracy, or they would support Israel and not the Islamists. Their agenda is to increase their own power. They make the assumption that anyone poor and miserable is in the right and that anyone rich and happy is in the wrong. That is the only test of what they support. That is not a moral test. It is a whatever "feels good" in the present test. They don't look ahead. They don't look at the past. The Far Left lacks wisdom. If your children had friends like that you would tell them to find other friends.

(2) TMay, October 31, 2010 11:07 PM


Wrong question. When I see Masada I ask myself why did the Jews have to lose Israel? They picked a fight with Rome when they didn't have to and when the rabbis said not to. And then on top of that wrong headed decision, a group made another stupid move of destroying the food and water supply of the city of Jerusalem that could have withstood a long siege because they thought people would fight harder when they had nothing to fall back upon. So the Jews lost Israel due to stupidity. It was also lack of unity that caused Israel's destruction. Jews should learn from history. We have an election coming upon Tuesday and the Jews are still voting as if Roosevelt was alive. He isn't. It has been 66 years since he ran for election. It is a different century. If you read the article of Gaffney "Obama's Not So Hidden Agenda" this week at, you can read what is at stake. Jews should sacrifice their suicidal impulses. I hope Jews will vote GOP on Tuesday. It might help their conscience when the proverbial you know what hits the fan. We may see the destruction of Israel in the next few years due to the policies of President Obama, even if Buffet is investing in Israel and even if the real estate market is hot in Israel. I don't mean just the country but a holocaust of the people and the Palestinians. Learn from history. Houston,we really do have a problem. Jews need to unify and the lack of unity is destroying us. When people say to unify they usually mean "come over to my side." Yes I admit it. Come on over. Get over your fears of the Gop that the Dems have exploited by calling everyone who isn't them sexist intolerant xenophobic homophobic Islamophobic racist and bigoted. The people are very nice.The evangelical Christians are very supportive of Israel. The tea partiers are not crazy as depicted in the Leftist media. They are middle class working people. The Dems have been taken over by the Far Left and is anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and hateful.

(1) lisa, October 31, 2010 8:45 PM

Great question.....but clueless

I have no idea what it is to sacrifice...for myself or my kids. My child's laptop was stolen from him at it a sacrifice for him that now he has to do without one?? I think he is doing just fine. One of the definitions of sacrifice from the Thorndike-Barnhart dictionary defines a sacrifice, by giving up one thing for another. So in the 21st century is it giving up our iPod for an iPod Touch? Do we have to show or feel pain while we sacrifice?? Please give us some suggestions of what a 2010 sacrafice is.


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