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Jeffrey Levine
CFO | Seeking a just world I Author

Purim – Before and After October 7th

This week we’ll be trying to celebrate Purim, and my initial reaction is to ask how we can celebrate Purim in these times. It does not seem rational, but if we don’t celebrate Purim, then that is a travesty of justice and our history. And why is what I wrote last year interesting? In fact, I’m not going to change what I wrote last year because these points are so relevant and even more relevant after October 7th. So, here we go.

Why were the Jews singled out? There were 127 countries, each with different customs, different beliefs, God, and languages. 

It was not about land; there was plenty of that. It was not about money.

I ask, in such a diverse world today, why are the Jews and Israel so singularly singled out?

Why was Haman so obsessed with one Jew, Mordechai, in that he had no peace of mind and that he took action, money to launch a public campaign to openly kill the Jews?

Today, we have open season to kill Jews. There is a culture of choosing to kill innocent civilians encouraged by the UN, international funding and vicious hate.

Why?

Why, after all the persecution, the holocaust, and the founding of the only Jewish state, is there so much hate, opposition, and delimitation of the Jews right to their State in their historical homeland?

Why is Jerusalem not recognized as our capital? Name any other capital that a people have a longer connection to.

Why does one religion need to put down another religion so that their faith can be proven right?

Surely, this is not what God wants?

So, while we go through  the fun and mitzvot of Purim, we need to ask.

Why the Grinch stole Purim?

How do we celebrate Purim with so much hate and sadness around us?

Good Purim – making Purim relevant!!

 

Hey – I am trying to get ready for Purim – by that, I do not mean the shopping list for Mishloach Manot, Wine and the seudah (meal)

I am searching for the real story. What happened in the original story? I ask the following questions:

  1. Why is the story still relevant today?
  2. What is the message for us today?
  3. What comparisons can we make with then and now?
  4. How can I use Purim to make others feel special or help others? (in other words what is behind Mishloach Manot and gifts to the poor)
  5. How can we really be happy with Purim? Why the costumes and Purim spiels (plays)?

For inspiration, I picked up Joe Bobker’s book – “From Fasting to Feasting”. In it, he writes

“The Megilla describes the Persian Jews as an assimilated community heading towards extinction. Not only an Am Mefuzar – a scattered folk among the nations, but also Meforad divided from within.”

The community’s complacency is shattered by the call of death by Haman. It is a wake-up call.

Amazing – in one short paragraph, we have the answers to questions a-c.

Yes, the story is still relevant – swap Persian Jews for American Jews or World Jewry today with its high assimilation rates. And what is our wakeup call? – Increased antisemitism, Moslem terrorism, a world refusing to recognize our rights to be a free people in our Land with Jerusalem as our capital.

As Rebbi Nachman writes – the main theme of Purim is the story. Rebbi Nachman says through stories we can learn about life. We have the stories of our forefathers and mothers in the Torah and through these stories and the stories of our lives, we can hopefully become better people.

When I look at the story of Purim – I look at the end of the story.

The Megilla instructs us to remember these days as a day of feasting, and gladness, and for sending delicacies to one another and gifts to the poor. So – it instructs us to be happy and make sure those less fortunate are looked after while we enjoy the good times. A very nice thought that fosters a good community.

But as an accountant, I am always amazed by the last paragraph. King Ahasuerus levied taxes, and Mordechai was viceroy to the King.

But I feel that the Megilla stops short of what happened next. The return to our Land and the building of the Second Beit Mikdash.

What troubles me is the lack of the connection. After a lot of complacency and near annihilation, the Jews are allowed to return to their Land. Again, now, after the Holocaust, we have returned to our land.

Like the Jews at that time, a small proportion returned, and unfortunately, many Jews chose not to return despite the hidden hand of God in our Return. But wait… it gets worse; many Jews not only do not wish to return but are now supporting the claims of enemies. So, Hashem is once again sending the descendants of Haman to wake us up!!

How can we inspire our fellows (and ourselves) to be more connected?

In order to do that, let’s take another look at the Megillah and the mitzvot of Purim. All of these have deep significance.

Just like in the Megilla, where there was feasting, dressing up for the banquet and lots of wine. We use these same symbols in our celebration of Purim.

I attended a talk by Rabbi Nathan Adler in Jerusalem this week. He explained some of the thoughts behind dressing up and wearing costumes. He quotes the Rema that it is even permissible for men to wear women’s clothing (and vice versa), which overrides the Halacha in the Torah. This is quite a fantastic thing. He brings further examples of the joking atmosphere and Purim spiels (plays) our great Rabbis allowed, encouraged and participated in. He mentions that for many centuries, even until today, Jews were not able to escape persecution. But on Purim, when we make a noise when hearing Haman’s name in the Megillah, it is a celebration. It is our once-a-year chance to get the better of our enemies.

Another emphasis is on dressing up. Just like Eisav and his descendants covered up their true feelings and hatred for Yaakov and the Jewish people, so too do we dress up on Purim and camouflage who we really are. The main time for this is at the Seudah (meal), where we let go. It is a time to forget all our frustrations and disappointments, a time to celebrate the gifts of God and the joy of life.

I will end with deep thought: At the Seudah, we should not be able to recognize who is next to us. We should put all our differences aside. On Purim, we drink (not only NOT to know the differences between Haman(evil) and Mordechai (goodness) but also to blur out all distinctions – the differences between us. We need to connect to all Jews (even to those with different views, God forbid)

It is the same when we give gifts to the poor. It should not matter which community he belongs to or if he dresses differently to use; we need to try to be non-judgmental.

Shout GOOD PURIM, HAPPY PURIM !!!! Think and meditate on how we want to be close to all Jews (not only those who think like us) !!

About the Author
Jeffrey is a CFO | Seeking a just world I Author -living in Jerusalem. He is a young grandfather who has five kids and six grandchildren. Jeffrey is promoting a vision for a better and fairer world through https://upgradingesg.com and is the author of Upgrading ESG - How Business can thrive in the age of Sustainability
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