Purim: The Non-Progressive Jewish Holiday

“The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus” by Jan Victors, 1640s.

“The Banquet of Esther and Ahasuerus” by Jan Victors, 1640s.

Today is the holiday of Purim.

And it is no accident that Benjamin Netanyahu referenced this Jewish holiday when delivering his powerful and historic address to the U.S. Senate the other day.

It’s an old ( 5th century B.C.E.) but agnonizingly familiar story: A Jew-hater named Haman hatches a plan to annihilate the Jewish people in the ancient kingdom of Persia.

That Genocide Thing. Again.

Most of the Jews in this multicultural Persian kingdom have been enlightened to the point where they enthusiastically attend royal feasts and gorge themselves off the golden plates and cups looted from the holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

These court Jews have evolved past that old, tired Judaism. They’re all new-agey, progressive. They know with arrogant certainty that Jewish history has moved beyond the old paradigms. It’s kumbaya time, Persian style.

These liberal Jews figure that Haman, a descendant of the old Jew-hating tribe of Amalek, is just an annoying blip on the historical screen. They don’t take him seriously. They view him as just another blowhard who can be appeased. They figure some clever negotiations will make this nut-job go away. They want to give peace a chance.

But there’s a Jew named Mordechai, a descendant of King Saul and King David. He’s old school; so pious and proud that unlike the compliant, liberal Jews of the kingdom, he refuses to bow down to the Grand Vizier Haman. Mordechai understands that the cult of personality is idolatry, paganism designed to replace G-d.

Mordechai only bows down to G-d.

And to the contempt and derision of the liberal Persian Jews, Mordechai actually takes Haman seriously.

Because Mordechai knows Jewish history. He knows the primary rule of Jewish history: when someone announces they plan on killing you—believe them.

Mordechai did not graduate from an elite Persian university with a degree in Conflict Resolution. He studies Torah. He prays. He has common sense.

He knows that history is frequently a simple calculation: kill or be killed.

Enter Leading Lady Esther

Mordechai maneuvers his niece, Esther—a Persian name that means hidden—into the royal court where she becomes the king’s favorite wife. She is a secret Jew in a corrupt court where Jew-hatred is the latest fashion.

There, in the belly of the beast, Esther lays a trap for Haman, for Haman’s clan, and for the fanatics who thirst for Jewish blood.

Esther proclaims a fast for the Jewish people, because that’s what Jews do: we fast and sprinkle ashes on our head to let G-d know that we know that we count on him, that we are humble in the face of his greatness.

Hey, The Second Amendment Appears

And after the fast, after the brilliant and courageous and frightened Esther springs her trap on Haman. Like all tyrants King Ahasuerus counts on strict weapons control to maintain tyranny over his subjects. But under the beautiful and wise Esther’s influence Ahasuerus extends to the Jewish people in the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces in which they dwell, the right to bear arms, the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

Thus, the story of Purim ends in a series of battles, a bloodbath. The Jews do not sit down and enlighten their enemies about how we must all live together in peace. They do not form reconciliation committees. They do not call for a national conversation about Jew-hatred. They do not consider it a virtue to be tolerant of the intolerant. And they do not forgive their genocidal enemies.

The Jews who follow Mordechai and Esther take up their swords and fight. Because only a good man with a sword can defeat a bad man with a sword.

And even as the victorious Jews slog through the blood of their enemies, even as they celebrate their victory, and even as they give food baskets and charity to the poor, they know that this is not the end of Jewish history, it’s just another chapter that is fated to repeat itself over and over again — until the coming of the Messiah.

Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a meaningful and inspirational Purim.

This entry was posted in Gun Control, Iran, IslamoNazis, Israel, Jew-haters, Jew-hatred, Jewish Holidays, Judaism, Purim, Second Amendment and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted March 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Sorry if it’s a bit too much but…. It’s Purim! Be Happy…

    “They tried to kill us.
    We won.
    Let’s eat!”
    And…. Drink!
    “To Life! To Life! L’Chayim!
    L’Chayim! L’Chayim! To Life!
    Life has a way of Confusing us, Blessing and Bruising us…
    So drink to Purim – to Life!
    G-d meant for us to be joyful even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.
    How much more can we be joyful when Purim makes us joyful all the more?
    To Mordechai! To Haman!??
    It’s Adar! Be Happy! Long Life!
    It’s something to drink about,
    All we can think about…
    Drink to Purim!
    To Life!

    Purim – Things that make you go “Hmmmm…”

    March 3, 2015, on the Eve of the Fast of Esther, the day when Queen Esther prepared to go before King Achashverosh to try and reverse the King’s decree that all Jews in the Persian Empire be condemned to death –
    The Prime Minister of the Jewish State of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu went before the Congress of the United States and said:
    “Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology…”

    March 5, 2015 – The Ayatolllh Khamenei – “The Iranian Ayatollah, 75, was reportedly rushed to a hospital after developing complications from his ongoing bout with prostate cancer. Reports stated that the autocrat underwent emergency surgery overnight and remains in the hospital in critical condition.”

    Hmmm…

    Purim is coming, the Jews are getting fat.
    Please to put matanos l’evyonim in a poor man’s hat!
    If you haven’t got a shekel, a half shekel will do.
    If you haven’t got a half shekel, then G-d Bless You!

    Your calendar is linear.
    It starts from Zero and goes forward (or backwards for that matter) from there. One year, two year, all the way up to two thousand and fifteen year!
    Day follows day and year follows year from there to here….
    But!
    The Jewish calendar is cyclical. Circular. The whole purpose of the calendar is to mark the Jewish Holy Days, beginning with Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, of each Jewish lunar month.
    The idea is that we live in a spiral; a helix, with the exact same day being repeated each year but – on a different level.

    The Jewish New Year is Nissan; the month of Passover!
    Huh? But… But… You always thought that the New Year was Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of Tishrei, right?
    Rosh Hashanah marks the Day of Creation of the World, the New Year for This World. But, Nissan and Passover begin the Jewish calendar year that commemorates our deliverance from slavery. It is the birth of the Nation of Israel!
    And, as it is in the beginning, so it is in the end – Purim is both the advent; the herald of the New Year and Passover and, it marks the last holiday of the old year!
    And, did you know that the week of Passover tells us the dates of all of the Holidays of the coming year – except for Purim!

    ATBASH!

    The letters ATBASH are an acronym for the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet AT = aleph/tav BASH = bes/shim, and ATBASH is a way of predicting when Jewish holidays will fall, based on Passover
    It works like this:
    The first day of Passover (alef) and Tisha B’av (tav) always fall on the same day of the week.
    The second day of Passover (bes) is always on the same day of the week as the following Shavuot (shin)
    The third day of Passover (gimmel) comes out on the same day of the week as Rosh Hashana (resh)
    The fourth day of Passover (daled) always falls on the same day of the week as Simchas Torah. Daled corresponds to kuf, which is the first letter of the word Kriah “reading.” Simchas Torah.
    The fifth day of Passover (hay) corresponds to the day of the week that Yom Kippur falls. Yom Kippur is a Tzom, which is the letter tzaddi.

    But! The sixth day of Passover (vav) and Purim (pay) are always on the same day of the week… of the previous Purim before Passover!
    (Which, of course, means that the ATBASH of Purim would be the same as Passover except that it would be missing Purim!)
    Which makes Purim the beginning and the end of our Redemption from the slavery of Egypt.

    On the material level which is Purim, Egypt represents all of those descendants of Amalek who wish to destroy the Jewish People – from Pharaoh to Haman to today’s ruthless tyrants who wish to destroy the People of Israel.
    Who is Amalek, you ask?
    Amalek is the people who tried to wipe out the Children of Israel as we left Egypt.
    In every generation – “[Therefore,] it will be, when the Lord your God grants you respite from all your enemies around [you] in the land which the Lord, your God, gives to you as an inheritance to possess, that you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget!”
    – Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:19
    We read this special section of this portion of the Torah on the Shabbos before Purim – every year.
    This is because we need to remember that Amalek stands for that which insists that the world is random; that everything in the universe is by chance; and for all those that deny the existence of a Just; Free; and Loving G-d.
    Haman, who wanted to wipe out the Jews, was from Amalek…

    And Purim is the day when Hashem reminds us that although His Hand may be yet Hidden, He continues to link the Jewish holiday of Purim to… Things that make you go “Hmmmmm?”

    Anybody know what day it was when the Russians “voted” to steal Crimea from the Ukraine?
    You guessed it! Purim 2014.
    The Hebrew word that best describes Purim is “venahafoch hu,” meaning flipped over story. Everything is upside down. Everything is topsy turvy. Nothing is what it seems.
    The Vilna Gaon, one of the Greatest Jewish Sages who ever lived, said, back in the 1700’s: “When you hear that the Russians have captured the city of Crimea, the ‘Times of the Moshach’ have started, that his steps are being heard.”
    Hmmm…

    Now for a quick speculation vort into the stock market – pay attention near the end – could be a money maker for you!
    October 19th, 1987 was the largest Dow Jones percentage drop in history – including the Crash of 1929 and everything up until the present.
    This occurred shortly after the Succos holiday in October of that year and, after the end of the previous Shemitah Year, which is where the Torah commands that every 7th year all of the land owned by Jews in the Land of Israel must lie fallow.

    On September 17th, 2001, Erev Rosh Hoshana, the Dow Jones went down 684.8 points, the largest single point drop in its history.
    This occurred at the end of the previous Shemitah Year.

    On September 29, 2008, Erev Rosh Hoshana, the Dow Jones went down 777.7 points, the largest single point drop in its history.
    This occurred at the end of the previous Shemitah Year.

    Hey! What happened to Purim?
    Well, the bottom of the stock market of the Great Recession, when the Dow Jones reached 6,547, happened on March 9th, the Fast of Esther. It was the lowest Dow Jones close since 1997.
    The following day, March 10th, Purim, the market rose 379 points, never to go that low again…

    (For those who might be interested – This year, 5776; or the rest of 2015, is a Shemitah Year. The first day of Rosh Hashana at the end of this Shemitah year is Sunday, September 13, 2015.
    My question was always – if Jews did not keep Shemitah in the Land Israel/ if Jews did not let the Land lie fallow and ownerless in the Land of Israel every Seventh Year, and totally relied on Hashem to provide their sustenance, as G-d has Commanded us to do and then – G-d curtailed the sustenance of the entire world…. Would anyone notice?)
    Hmmmm….?

    These are the days of miracles and wonders. This is G-d’s long distance call…
    The way events follows us in slo-mo. The way it looks to us all.
    It might look like it’s all consternation, as we drink to the sky.
    But, these are the days of miracles and wonders
    So don’t cry baby, don’t cry
    Be Happy! It’s Adar!
    (with apologies to Paul Simon – another nice Jewish boy!)

    – There is no timeline for the Final Redemption.
    But, in today’s modern flipped over story of Purim – every year; everyday, gives every Jew everywhere, a new opportunity to do teshuvah.
    We are called on to overcome the obstacles of anger and hatred; to be inspired by the Hidden Hand of G-d that is shown in the Story of This World and show the true achdus of the entire Jewish Nation to bring about the Final Redemption on this and every Purim.
    Even though the Hand of G-d is not always visible, He holds every card, and those who try to play against Him have always been defeated.

    May the Blessings of Purim fall on all Israel, and may these events foretell a speedy Redemption for all Jews, Now, and in Our Time.
    A Freilichin Purim!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. DrCarol
    Posted March 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting the video of Netanyahu’s speech. My schedule is been so packed that I couldn’t watch it live.

    I was “live”-blogging it for my daughter, who also had not seen it. It was a great speech. Wish we had grown-up adult statesmen like him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. STW
    Posted March 5, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I’m always a bit surprised by those talking about how much we’ve evolved and how modern and enlightened everyone is these days. People are people are people. They always have been and always will be. ANYTHING that has been done by people in the past can (and will) be done by people in the present. To expect anything else is delusion.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. GW
    Posted March 5, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    A timely tale. Krauthammer noted the other day that when the Israeli Prime Minister referenced this biblical tale in his speech at Conress, it was “the first time in 2,000 years Esther has received a standing ovation.” May you and yours have a blessed Purim, Sir.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • Robert J. Avrech
      Posted March 6, 2015 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      Karen and I appreciate all your generous comments. A Happy Purim to all our friends.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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