Doctor with a Mission
Francisco Maldonado de Silva (1592-1639) Raised as a devout Catholic, de Silva is one of the most famous Marranos in history [Marranos were the Spanish Jews forcibly converted to Christianity by the Inquisition]. His family migrated to Chile where de Silva became a doctor. He learned of his Judaism from his father, took an interest in it and started to learn more. He returned to Judaism wholeheartedly, circumsizing himself with a pair of scissors (relax, he was a doctor). Unfortunately, being Jewish was a crime and de Silva was arrested and thrown in jail for 12 years. He refused to eat their un-kosher food and would fast for 40 days at a time. De Silva was endlessly interrogated by no less than 13 inquisitors. Amazingly, he escaped from his cell after weaving a rope of corn stalks. Instead of running away, he climbed into the adjacent cell and converted two Catholics to Judaism. Tragically, he was burned at the stake with 11 other Jews in Lima, Peru on January 23, 1639.
Words of the Week
“The [Torah] has been a Magna Carta of the poor and of the oppressed; down to the modern times no State has a constitution which the interests of the people are so largely taken into account, in which the duties so much more than the privileges of the rulers are insisted upon, as that drawn up for Israel in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.”
– T.H. Huxley, famous biologist and paleontologist, father of the Huxley dynasty which includes Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley, Francis Huxley and Andrew Huxley.
Tomorrow is 18 Shevat – the anniversary of the 1639 ‘auto de fe’ that killed da Silva along with 10 others. One of those killed was Manuel Bautista Perez, who was reported to be the richest man in Peru at the time.