Purim has fun with a serious situation

by | Mar 14, 2024 | Other News

The Purim festival is an extraordinary fun-making of costumes and masks, which in a pandemic, save lives threatening all. The holiday masks and matches the extraordinary seriousness of the life and death issues behind it, allowing for the healthy release of pent-up tension and emotion. After all, a threat of genocide hanging over a vulnerable people such as the Jews, with a plot in place to terminate its existence in the vast Persian empire of antiquity, was not to be taken lightly.

Salvation was found through an intermarried Jewish queen who was placed in a pivotal position to help her kin. It is an intriguing dimension to a drama whose historical veracity remains uncertain. Still, the challenges and lessons contained in the fascinating Scroll of Esther have remained applicable throughout the Jewish saga.

Rabbis have taught that in the Messianic era to come, of all the Jewish holidays, only Purim will continue to be celebrated. Is it because we should never take Jewish survival for granted and need to always be on guard? Is that why God’s name is not mentioned, even once in the scroll, a notable exception to all the other books in the Bible? Rabbis even regarded Purim as equal to the very opposite Yom Kippur, the holiest Jewish Day of bodily deprivation.

Curiously, the terrorizing dictatorial leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran (once Persia), now celebrating the 45th anniversary of their theocratic revolution, continue to seek hegemony in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Their bloody involvement in the ghastly barbaric attack on Israelis along the Gaza border, reminiscent of Nazi atrocities, is ample testimony that they have not given up on “wiping Israel off the map” and to conclude what Pharaoh, Haman, and Hitler attempted.

Queen Esther was forced to hide her Jewish identity, otherwise, she could not get into the palace to fulfill her mission of saving her people. Our beautiful and heroic Esther had to be prodded nonetheless by experienced Mordechai. After all, she was young to risk her life by appearing uninvited before King Ahsheverus. However, she did perform, and well at that, forever earning an honored place in the pantheon of Jewish heroines and heroes. It seems that our remarkable duo of Mordechai and Esther created the prototype of the Israeli Mossad operation!

The Jewish people are not yet fully safe but are finally capable of defending their lives. “Never Again!” is a sacred commandment.

Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman is the founder of Temple Lev Tikvah and Honorary Senior Rabbi Scholar at Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church, both in Virginia Beach.