Today is the 14th day of Adar, a month of joy. I would add a month of triumph as well. The story of Esther is interesting for many reasons, one of them is there are no open miracles, in fact the name of G-d doesn’t appear in the story at all. The miracles of the story are evident only in hindsight. It can be that way in our everyday lives as well. Things that are absolute miracles are only seen clearly when we look backwards.
The Shabbat before Purim is known as Shabbat Zachor, and after we heard our regular lesson on Parashat Vayikra, we then read how the Amalekites attacked us as we left Egypt. Devarim/Deuteronomy 25:17-19
17You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt,
18how he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear God.
19[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!
The morning of Purim service also includes a special reading from Shemot/Exodus 17:8-16
8 Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 So Moses said to Joshua, Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand
10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, to fight against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur ascended to the top of the hill.
11 It came to pass that when Moses would raise his hand, Israel would prevail, and when he would lay down his hand, Amalek would prevail.
12 Now Moses hands were heavy; so they took a stone and placed it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one from this [side], and one from that [side]; so he was with his hands in faith until sunset.
13 Joshua weakened Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 The Lord said to Moses, Inscribe this [as] a memorial in the book, and recite it into Joshua’s ears, that I will surely obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens
15 Then Moses built an altar, and he named it The Lord is my miracle.
16And he said, For there is a hand on the throne of the Eternal, [that there shall be] a war for the Lord against Amalek from generation to generation.
So what’s the deal with Amalek? They hated the Jews, a senseless, baseless hatred. And, Haman the minister who wanted the Jews annihilated was descended from Amalek. Shocker that eh?
I would maintain the spirit of Amalek is alive and well these days. The picture are the right are from a parade in Belgium a week or so ago. The ones on the left?
And despite the outcry, the mayor of the town of Aalst (that’s not how I spell asshat, must be a Belgium spelling) defended the display of Jews atop bags of money, one holding a white rat, one with a white rat on his shoulder.
The mayor of the town defended the display. Of course. It was followed by a couple of floats with dancers dressed the same. One thing that I noticed is many of the “dancers” appeared young, grade school or junior high perhaps. So, they thought this up? The hitler youth is alive and well? The kids were raised by Ilan Omar? What?
The annual carnival where the display appeared was added in 2010 to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO. The organization has not replied to numerous critical questions about the Aalst event on social media and on Tuesday had not issued any statement on the subject.
Ahhh, UNESCO, of course. The UN group that says Jews have no connection to Jerusalem. UNESCO is an Immoral, Anti-Semitic Organization, Decent Countries Should Leave
At this parade in 2013 a different group made a float entry of a nazi railway car, with nazis and Ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Nope, no UN condemnation, although back then UNESCO did harumph about the poster of the Belgium politicians holding cans of Zyklon B.
Perhaps Belgium, and the mayor of asshat Aalst should remember the magnificent ending of the Purim story. Purim means lots, and that’s how the wicked Haman chose the day to exterminate the Jews, he threw lots. The 13th of Adar was the day that all the Jews were to be exterminated. Didn’t go as Haman planned.
“How can I endure to see the evil that will come unto my people? How can I endure to witness the destruction of my kindred?” Esther cried in anguish.
The King was deeply moved, and he wanted to allay her grief. Unfortunately, it was not so easy to rescind the decree, for it was sent out by order of the King, in his name, bearing the King’s own seal. Such a decree was irrevocable.
Finally, a plan was hit upon. A new decree was to be issued in the name of the King, declaring that Haman had abused the King’s confidence by issuing falsified decrees. Instead of issuing decrees to do away with the persecution of the Jews throughout the vast Persian empire, as was the King’s intention and desire, the treacherous Haman had ordered the extermination of the loyal Jewish subjects! A further proof of the King’s displeasure with Haman was the fact that Haman had been executed by the King’s express command.
Once again the King’s scribes were called, and the new decrees were prepared, this time dictated by Mordechai himself. The documents were immediately dispatched by royal couriers riding on swift steeds to all the governors and princes of the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire, from India to Ethiopia. By these royal decrees, permission was granted to the Jews to gather on the thirteenth day of Adar and defend themselves against their enemies, and to attack and slay all those who would assault them.
The news of the great salvation of the Jews spread like lightning to the remotest comers of the Persian Empire, and the Jews were now treated with respect.
When the thirteenth day of Adar arrived, the day on which the Jews were to be slain and exterminated by Haman and his evil forces, the Jews gathered in the public places of each town and hamlet. By order of the King, they sentenced to death all those who had revealed themselves as enemies. Throughout the kingdom of Persia, seventy five thousand would-be murderers were executed, and five hundred more in Shushan. All ten sons of Haman were likewise executed.
The King brought the news to Esther. “I have but one more request to make,” she said. “There are still many dangerous enemies at large in Shushan. They must be executed or there can be no peace in the land. Let tomorrow also be set aside for a day of judgment in Shushan over the enemies of our people who are also the enemies of all mankind. And may the bodies of Haman’s ten sons be hanged on the gallows.”
Esther’s request was immediately granted.
And so while the Jews outside Shushan celebrated their victory on the fourteenth of Adar, the Jews of Shushan were still grimly engaged that day in the task of ridding the city of the villains and murderers. Only on the following day did they celebrate the great and miraculous salvation.
Mordechai, now dressed in magnificent royal robes, became the King’s viceroy and closest advisor. He served the King and his own people with humility and devotion.
From that time, the fourteenth day of Adar was consecrated as the festival of Purim, to commemorate the great miracle of our people’s salvation, and the downfall of the wicked Haman.
Today we do not need a King’s permission to defend our lives. We have the King of the Universe who gave us life, and he says we are to defend it. Perhaps Belgium should remember what happened to Haman and his sons.
As with many holidays, They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.
Would someone please pass me that plate of Oznai Hamen? Haman’s ears? Yeah, the chocolate ones with the peanut butter.
Chag Purim Samach Haveriem
חג פורים שמח חברים
I know who really runs the show.