If you are unfamiliar with Purim, why and what is being celebrated, there is a helpful video at the end. The story of Purim comes from the Book of Esther in the Tanakh, or First Testament. The name “Purim” comes from the word “Pur” which means “Lots” as Haman, the villain of the story cast lots to determine which day he would destroy the Jews. Haman became miffed at the Jews because Mordechai, Esther’s Uncle, would not bow down before him. Haman was quite impressed with himself. So this year’s Purim is very interesting to me, being a patterns person and all. So under the “The More Things Change The More They Stay The Same” banner let’s have a look.
One of the things one does on Purim is hear the reading of the story of Esther, usually in a Synagogue. Let’s contrast that with the Temple Mount, the one that is the holiest sight in Judaism. For sometime now muslims have been attempting to prevent Jews from going to visit the temple mount. They are already forbidden to pray there. The muslims have rioted near the area where the Jews are allowed to gain entrance to prevent them from entering. When they do enter, they are attacked verbally and lately, physically. Some of the muslims attempting to stop the Jewish visitors from seeing the temple mount are now children who shout “Allahu Akbar” Luckily the police were right there to stop it. Oh, wait, my bad. They were right there, they just didn’t stop it. Nor did they intervene when a member of the waqf guard assaulted a Jewish visitor. Physically, not just verbally. But, hey, good luck, because the Israeli police were right there this time and they sprang into action, and they.. oops, my bad again. They were right there, they just didn’t do anything. Ok, so this year reading the story of Esther on the Temple Mount was not a promising proposition.
Another part of Purim is a lovely meal, traditional food would include Oznei Haman or Hamantaschen filled with poppyseed filling. Although I have now seen a huge variety of filling choices I want to try. So let’s see what is of interest this year in the food category. Ahh, back to the Temple Mount. I see they are having a delightful FREE, yes FREE Al Aqsa Buffet. But wait, that can’t be, because that would be illegal. And calculated to offend, much like their playing football on the Temple Mount. Think of it as carrying on a lively soccer game in the House of Worship of your denomination. Not on the athletic field behind the building. In the sanctuary. To Jews the entire Temple Mount is holy, to muslims, not so much. Just the al aqsa mosque, which is why they have destroyed Jewish artifacts trying to erase the Jewish presence.
So what else for Purim. Ah, costumes. I rethought my first choice, and came up with a better idea. I’m sure that’s common, thinking through the costume and what you want to do with it. Thankfully we’ve come many years from when a madman wanted to wipe every trace of Jews from the earth. Except we haven’t. A mere couple weeks ago a young man named Avraham Goldschmidt was attacked on his way to a wedding by a knife wielding manic. Avraham fought him off with his tefillin bag while shouting if someone had a weapon to “neutalize him”. It was Avraham’s good fortune that Nir Barkat is the mayor of Jerusalem and not someone like Bloomers, DeBlasio (is that still his name this week?) or any of the astroturf group Mayors Against Self-Defense. Nope Nir is cut from a different cloth. His bodyguards drew their guns and Nir rushed the terrorist after he dropped the knife. All this can be viewed on closed circuit TV. Which despite the videocams being right there did actual zip/nada to stop the crime. A thought for those that think those security cams are useful. Along with tefillin, Jews often wear a Kippah. Now that’s not part of a costume per se, but it is something that is part of Jewish dress. Unless you are a Jew in Ramallah Israel. NYC Councilor David Greenfield was asked by U.S. officials on his visit to Israel to remove his Kippah when he left the U.S consulate. To his credit, after first ascertaining he wasn’t placing the other members at risk, he refused to remove it. NYC Councilor David Greenfield is no shrinking violet, no he isn’t. That video is well worth watching too.
So, without giving away the end of the Purim story, let’s just say self-defense was involved. So, what is the application for today? Well, there certainly have been a plethora of attacks on Jews lately and antisemitism is on the rise all over the world. And the response from the leaders of the different countries has been a parade? Well, except from the U.S. In the U.S. the regime harfed that the correct response to terrorism is not to kill the terrorists, but to give them jobs instead. What a load of harf! Things are so bad, that as my colleague Y.B. has pointed out Rabbi Margolin suggested Jews at risk be granted a special permit to be armed. I would suggest that most people without a crystal ball are at risk, but that’s just me.
In the article Is it Just Fashionable to Hate the Jews? Rabbi Joseph Potasnik points out “It’s not a big deal to hate the Jews.” The author concludes “Jews are a nice easy nonviolent target”
But if Bibi Netanyahu is setting the tone for going forward, that could begin to change. From one of his speeches
And as Prime Minister of Israel I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them. For 2000 years, my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, defenseless, voiceless. We were utterly powerless against our enemies who swore to destroy us. We suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks. We could never speak in our own behalf, and we could not defend ourselves. Well, no more! No more. The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over.
But hey, it’s not like Iran wants to destroy Israel or America! I don’t know what would ever make you think that! I mean Iranians love Israel and America, just look at this recent domino competition in which they prominently displayed American and Israeli flags. Nope, no hostility here!
Is it just me or does anyone else find the timing of Bibi’s speech to congress interesting. Not in terms of Israeli elections as the current regime has harfed, but in terms of Purim, when Ester spoke to the King on behalf of her people.
Purim celebrates the survival of the Jews against one of the attempts to wipe them off the face of the earth. There have already been many, there will be more. The attacks we’re seeing now are against Jews, Christians and other faiths, well, except for one. Wise people will be prepared, if they are someday there may be another holiday similar to Purim, because with Purim, none of the Jews died because Esther rose to the occasion, and so the Jews were allowed to defend themselves when the attackers came.
“They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat!”
Good deal. May we all do our best to rise to meet the occasions that come before us.