The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 21 June 2008 / 18 Sivan 5768

Shabbat Candles and Martyr Fires

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

"On Erev Shabbat, 27 Elul 5070 (1310), the saintly woman Adel, daughter of Rabbi Moshe Kiknish, sanctified the Name of G-d and martyred herself on behalf of the Jewish People, may G-d avenge her blood in this merit."

Thus read a tombstone in the European town of Drohovitch. Behind this inscription is a moving story of heroism.

A dead Christian child was found in the home of Adel on Pesach eve and the gentile maid claimed that she had slaughtered the child at her mistress' command on behalf of the Jewish community. In order to save the community from the tragic consequences of this blood libel, Adel decided to take the entire blame. The confession of the maid that she had lied failed to persuade the judges to change their verdict of death by the burning stake for Adel. Efforts by the priests to convince Adel to convert to Christianity and be spared proved futile.

The execution was scheduled for late Friday. Adel donned her fine Shabbat garments, lit Shabbat candles and went to her fiery death as a martyr for her people.

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