Purim and the Megillah: The Structuring for Future Confrontations

Having heard the Megillah twice yesterday, the festive high of the holiday of Purim is rushing through my blood. So I have decided to write this article about something I noticed while listening to the megillah . But instead of falling into the stereotype of saying that every enemy of the Jews is Amalek, I propose that we focus on something more general and interesting about the story of Purim and the Megillah.

Look at the structure of the story of Purim. You have Achashveirosh, who is the king of Persia, who is enjoined by Haman to reengage in an age-old war with an alleged enemy of the kingdom. You have Mordechai, portrayed as the leader of the Jewish people, fighting not by wars but by political actions and concessions. Queen Esther, Mordechai’s niece, was forced to marry Achashveirosh and thus able to later serve as a diplomat for the Jews. For terms of this analogy, I will say that Haman was the leader and diplomat of the enemy. The confrontation ensues when Mordechai and Esther work together and Achashveirosh eventually allows the Jews to defend themselves from Haman’s plans.

The structure above can be broken down into a general form:

(A) A period of peaceful coexistence or at least tensions is not at the point of

(B) An event or action is viewed as an imagined slight, action against a general group of people.

(C) The religious, philosophical or ideological extremist groups look for away to get their beliefs to be used to respond to the slight or action, even if it means violence or genocide.

(D) These groups would try to place someone or already have an ally in an post of power to help implement their plans.

(E) This step is when the plans of the extremist groups are brought into effect

(F) This then ensues both political and military actions. The confrontation then ends with one side being disappointed, being decimated in its entirety, or the group being defeated for the time being (this last option usually leading to regrouping and plotting for the next cycle).

Applying the model outlined above to two specific situations confrontations, you can see the model in action. The first confrontation I will use is WWII/ the Holocaust:

(A) The period after WWII till the beginning of the Great Depression we see a period where Jews and Germans lived together in peace and were prosperous.

(B) The Great Depression hits, German Economy collapses

(C) The Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, use the Great Depression as the starting point for their claims of  the Jews being responsible for the downfall of Germany starting from the defeat in WWII

(D) Nazis storm the Reichstag and takes over control over Germany, Hitler becomes Fuhrer, later develops a genocide plan entitled the Final Solution to wipe out the Jews and other minority groups.

(E) The Final Solution begins to be implemented; Jews are taken to concentration and death camps and begin the process of killing the Jews off.

(F) The Allied forces defeat Germany; Nazi regime is demolished and broken apart; though the beliefs of Nazism still exist, they do not have real power in any major government.

The second confrontation I will be applying my generic confrontation model theory to is Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

(A) Pre-Independence and Pre-UN 1947 Partition Plan: this is the most difficult step to describe for this confrontation. At this time, there was Palestinian Guerilla groups engaged in warfare and terror attacks against the 3 independent Jewish Guerilla groups (Hagganah, Irgun, and the Stern Gang). Arab countries were not involved with the warfare at this time.

(B) This step is made up of 3 substeps: First, the UN 1947 Partition Plan proposal, which the Jews reluctantly accepted, and the Arabs rejected outright. The second substep is the British announcement for complete withdrawal of its soldiers from the Palestine Mandate in 1948. The third and final substep is Israel’s Declaration of Independence on May 14th, 1948. These 3 events linked together to form the slight that angered the Arab nations.

(C) The surrounding Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian Guerilla groups, are the radicals here in this confrontation. They were unwilling to even think about having a Jewish State in the Middle East and therefore wanted to wipe out the Jews or drive them into the Sea.

(D) In this confrontation, each front should be viewed as having a different head, depending on the country attacking from said front. Egypt was in charge of their front, Syria of theirs, Jordan of theirs, and Lebanon of theirs etc. The Arab countries used their armies to implement their wish of removing the Jews.

(E) The war starts with the Palestinian Guerilla group attacking Gush Etzion and is repelled. Then, the Jordanian army attacks and captures Gush Etzion. The war then opens up on all fronts.

(F) Under pressure, the three Jewish Guerilla groups form an uneasy alliance and work together to miraculously repel the Arab legions for the most part. This leaves much of the Arab nations involved in this war reeling and plotting for revenge.

Roughly, these two confrontations show that some form of my general theory based off Esther does exist in other confrontations involving Jews. This does not mean that the opposing groups are Amalek, it just means that the general model reflect the Amalek model of confrontation.


About the Author
Justin Goldstein is currently a second year MSW student at Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work.
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