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1492 - 2002; 510 Years Remembering a Discovery
& Forgetting a Degradation

Compiled & Edited by Messianic Rabbi Ed Rothman

Every October multiplied millions of Americans remember the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus. Yet few know of a painfully degrading event in history that preceded this great discovery; the expulsion of the Jews of Spain by the Christian King & Queen!

Tisha b'Av & Expulsion From Spain

It seems to be more than coincidence that Columbus was set to sail on the day that all of the Jewish people were to be expelled from Spain, August 2, 1492. This day also happened to be Tisha b'Av (the 9th of Av), a day of infamy on the Jewish calendar. The destruction of both Temples, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the massacres carried out during the Crusades in 1298, the martyrdom of many great Rabbinic sages, among many other painful events that have occurred on that infamous day. It is a day of fasting & mourning by observant Orthodox Jews.

On March 31, 1492, King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella signed an edict ordering the expulsion of "all Jews and Jewesses, of whatever age they may be, shall depart from all our said kingdoms and dominions by the end of July next, of the present year."

The following is an eyewitness account of the awful event by Andres Bernaldez, a Christian writer of the 15th century:

Within the terms fixed by the edict of expulsion, the Jews sold and disposed of their property for a mere nothing. They went about asking Christians to buy, but found no buyers. Fine houses and estates were sold for trifles; a house was exchanged for a mule and a vineyard for a little cloth or linen.

Those who were rich paid the expenses of the departure for those who were poor, practicing toward each other the greatest deeds of charity, so that, except for a very few of the poorest of the poor, they would not become converts to Christianity.

In the first week of July, they took the hardship of the road upon themselves and left the land of their birth; children and adults, the very old and the very young, on foot or mounted on donkeys, other animals or riding in carts; they continued their journeys, each on to the ports to which they had to go.

They went along the roads and through the fields with great travail and misfortune. Some collapsing, some dying, others falling ill; so that there was no Spaniard who did not feel sorry for them. So great was the concern of those who beheld this tragedy that they would invite the Jews to be baptized so as to avert this terrible suffering. Some because of the unbearable hardship did convert and remain, but those were very few.

The Rabbi's strengthened their resolve and made the women and young people play on pipes and tambourines to cheer the people until they arrived at the ports of the sea. As soon as they glimpsed the sea at the port of Cadiz, they let out loud shouts, both men and women, the old and the children. In their prayers beseeching G-d for mercy and for miracles, that He might open a path for them in the sea."

The Spanish Inquisition

The Spanish Inquisition was initated by King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella. It began in 1478. The initial purpose was to discover and punish any newly converted Jews (Conversos) who showed any signs of insincerity or the Marranos (Swine) who secretly practiced their Jewish faith. It was believed that the Jews were at the root of all heresy and disobedience to the faith. Once again Hasatan hatched a plot in the minds of the spiritually ignorant, but religiously rigid in another attempt to destroy the children of Abraham. The Jewish communities of Spain were so ravaged by the Inquisition that no one felt safe or secure, even if they had openly converted to Christianity.

The Inquisition established 37 Jewish customs forbidden to be practiced by anyone who was called a Christian. If anyone failed to eat pork or shrimp on command, to work on Saturday, or to wear their best clothes to Church on Sunday they would be accused of being a heretic. Anyone who observed a biblical feast, lit Shabbat candles, said a Jewish prayer, ate Jewish food, associated with unconverted Jews or even married another Jewish convert, would be brought to trial for heresy.

Those who publicly confessed and repented were saved from death, but still faced public humiliation and were forbidden for the rest of their lives from holding public office, having honorable employment or owning anything of any value. To be reconciled to the Church penitents were forced to endure an act of penance called Verquenza (Shame). This public humiliation meant to be paraded through the streets, stripped to the waist (whether male of female) bareheaded and without shoes (in any type of weather). They were continuously flogged and mocked during the procession through the city; while holding an unlit candle (indicating that they were still in spiritual darkness) until they reached the Cathedral.

At the Cathedral the Priest would make the sign of the Cross on their foreheads reciting these words, "Receive the Sign of the Cross which you denied and which being deluded, you lost." They would be forced to repeat the entire process every Friday for 6 weeks of penance, paying 1/5 of their net worth into the Church coffers. Any subsequent failure to stringently uphold all of the edicts of the Church would result in an immediate and painful death.

If someone confessed but did not repent - they were burned alive to teach other Conversos to fear the authority of the Church. If they claimed innocence and refused to confess - they were tortured until they feigned confession, and then burned at the stake as an example for the others. The Church authorities justified this behavior by misquoting John 15:6, "If any man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

These are just a few of the horrific terrorist activities perpetrated in the name of Christ. It is no wonder that there are such immense historic and emotional barriers that exist between the Jewish people of the 21st century and the proclamation of the Good News of Y'shua (Jesus) as the promised Messiah.





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