When in times of distress, Jews called upon the name of God in their pleas for His Divine help. The clearest example can be found in the Book of Psalms, chapter 22, in which David cries out to God for His mercy and begs Him.
David’s first words are “Eili, Eli, lama azavtani? My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me and art far from my help at the words of my cry? O my God, I call by day but Thou dost not answer…..”
Christian biblical scholars, referring to David’s plea for God’s deliverance from King Saul’s persecution, liken the psalmist’s words to those of Jesus dying on the cross.
In a similar but different wording, Jesus cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabakhtani”?
In Psalm 22 the Hebrew word “azavtani” means forsaken or abandoned me, whereas the cry of the dying Jesus, the Aramaic word “sabakhtani”, meaning sacrificed me, is used.
Historians agree that while Jesus prayed in Hebrew, his common spoken language was the Aramaic lingua franca of his time.
It is further believed by Christian exegetes that Jesus spoke Greek as he stood before Pontius Pilate.
The common denominator between David and Jesus is that both cried out to God for deliverance and both of their cries remained unanswered.
It is the tragedy of those whose pleas to Almighty God are ignored and unanswered.
There are two horrific examples of this in our lifetime.
The first was the Turkish massacre of one million Christian Armenians between 1914-1918, inhumanely slaughtered by Turkish Muslims with authority of the Ottoman empire in Turkey and Greece.
In 1890 the Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II, made an official statement that all civic rights of Muslim Turks would continue to be denied to all Christian Armenians in Turkey and from 1894-1896 pogroms officially sanctioned by the Turkish government murdered tens of thousands of innocent Armenian men, women and children, even babies nursing at their mothers’ breasts.
The Armenians were the first people to accept Christianity as their religion. In the 4th century, the kingdom of Armenia became the first nation to make Christianity its national religion.
On the 24th day of April 1915, the Armenian genocide began. Killing squads attacked Armenian homes and forced the people into death marches. They were stripped of their clothes and forced to march in the desert heat without food or water. Anyone who stopped even for a moment was shot dead by Turkish troops.
By the end of World War I in 1918, more than 1 ½ million Armenian Christians had been slaughtered mercilessly by the Turks. Thousands more were forcibly expelled from the territory of the Turkish Ottoman empire.
The Armenian people, led by the patriarchs of their churches, have been crying out to God for relief from their sufferings. They send their heartfelt pleas and prayers to a God who did not answer them.
The second example, deeply painful to every Jew, was the Holocaust of 1939-1945, the work of Nazi Germans who prayed for victory in their churches and cathedrals.
By the end of World War II, six million Jews, including one million children under the age of 16, were sent to gas chambers and their bodies cremated in the constant burning fires of the ovens.
Each Jew prayed and cried out to God for His mercy. Perhaps God did hear their pleas but He did not answer them.
The entire world recognized the Holocaust and genocide of six million Jews but very sadly, only 32 countries recognize the Armenian massacres as genocide. Among them are the USA, Russia and Germany.
Speaking personally, as a humanitarian, a Jew, an Israeli, a Zionist, and a friend of the Armenian people. I condemn with all my heart and strength the government of Israel which fails to recognize the Armenian tragedy as a genocide.
We have thousands of wonderful beautiful Armenian citizens living mostly in Jerusalem. I have visited the Armenian patriarchate and have given contributions to Armenian charities in Jerusalem. I do it because it is a demand in our Torah and holy books to provide for and to protect the needy and the oppressed.
The only reason that Israel has refrained from recognizing the Armenian genocide is a political one. Our government has avoided blaming the Turks for the massacre of more than one million Armenians because of our agreements with Turkey, until recently a favorite vacation place for Israeli tourists.
Now our relations with Turkey are not as cordial as they were in earlier years. The government of Israel no longer has valid reasons to deny the Armenian genocide.
Jewish blood and Armenian blood are both red in color and both have been cruelly and brutally shed by the monsters of racial and religious faith and culture.
This is my plea to my fellow citizens in the State of Israel. Lift up your voices, flood the law-makers in the Knesset with demands for justice for the entire Armenian people and nation.
Our pleas to heaven may not have been answered because God puts the responsibility into the hands of those who dwell on earth.
He gave us His command: “Tzedek tzedek tirdof”.
Righteousness and justice must thou pursue !
It is time now to pursue them !
(written on the eve of Tisha B’Av, date of destruction of King Solomon’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE)