In this week’s Torah portion, God lets loose the last three plagues: locusts, darkness and the Angel of Death to kill every first-born Egyptian. The Israelites are commanded to put blood on their doorposts, so the Angel of Death will pass over their houses and not kill them along with the Israelites. “For when the LORD goes through to smite the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, and the LORD will pass over the door and not let the Destroyer enter and smite your home.” (Exodus 12:23)
Why does God need this sign; can’t God discern who is who? From the perspective of our sages of blessed memory there is no doubt: God is quite capable of knowing who is an Israelite and who is an Egyptian.
Perhaps, the lesson of our Torah is that the power of violence is so great, that when let loose, even by God, it is almost impossible to control.
How much the more so when violence is used by human beings. It goes out of control quickly, and causes harm to foes and friends alike. This is why we pray for peace–because we have seen the results of war and the price the innocent pay.