A Jewish teacher used a prayer book to defend himself Monday against a machete-wielding terrorist — claiming to be acting in the name of Allah — who tried to stab him in the southern French city of Marseille, Agence-France Presse reported. Thanks to the prayer book, whose title was chillingly relevant to the outcome of the incident, the 35-year-old teacher was injured only lightly.
A local prosecutor said that the 15-year-old assailant, an ethnic Kurd with Turkish citizenship, told police he was inspired by the Islamic State group.
“He claimed to have acted in the name of Allah and the Islamic State, repeating several times to have done on behalf of Daesh,” prosecutor Brice Robin told a news conference, Reuters reported.
The attacker lunged at the teacher from behind, stabbed him in the shoulder and continued chasing him until the victim fell, prosecutor Brice Robin said.
The prosecutor said the teacher who was wearing a Jewish skullcap kicked the attacker and used a Torah as a shield. A look at photos posted on the French news site Alyaexpress show that it was actually a Hebrew prayer book titled “Vezot Habracha,” or “This Is the Blessing.”
The damage and bloodstain on the book can be seen in the photo:
Phil Chernofsky — education director at the OU Israel Center, a branch of the U.S.-based Union of Orthodox Rabbis — noted that the title of the book held a double-meaning for the intended victim.
Noting the book’s title, Chernofsky told TheBlaze Tuesday, “This is the blessing, that he had the book to protect himself with.”
Chernofsky explained that the prayer book contains blessings religious Jews recite to give thanks for different types of foods based on halakha, that is, Jewish laws derived from both the Torah and the teachings not written in the Torah handed down orally for generations known as the Oral Torah.
“It’s a book of halakha, which literally means walking. It’s Jewish law, but it’s ‘walking’ because it’s our way of life … one of those teachings is the high value that we attribute to life, and the fact he was protected by a book of halakha, which is a way of life, has a double meaning. Not only is it his way of life, but it saved his life,” Chernofsky observed.
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The suspect who was arrested fit “the profile of someone who was radicalized on the Internet,” the French prosecutor told reporters. He described the assailant as a “good student” and said his family was unaware of his radicalization.
“You get the sense that he does not have a full grasp of the fundamentals of Islam,” he said.
The prosecutor said the teen told investigators that once he is released he plans to kill police.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve described the attack as a “brutal anti-Semitic aggression.”
This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the Islamist attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris when four were taken hostage and then killed. Two days earlier, Islamist gunmen killed 12 at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices.