Purim in the present – we are midway through

File:Book of Esther JHM Amsterdam 08112012 10.jpg CC license

This year I am heading into the Purim holiday feeling something completely different. This year I feel I am a participant mid-way through an unfolding and unfinished book of Jewish history’s fight against virulent antisemitism that our generation is writing and which we get to influence.

When remembering and commemorating Jewish events I have tried to follow the adage of “Remember the past to build the future,” to look at events from the distant and recent past like Purim and the Holocaust and try to extract messages to learn for the future. This year it is not enough…

This year more than ever, we are actors in a parallel plot and our actions and faith can and will determine the outcome. I guess we should always feel like this.

We, as 21st century Jews and as society, have made mistakes as in the past – some of us lulled ourselves into a false sense of security (both in Israel and the Diaspora), and too much of society has again allowed pure evil to be unleashed and also become accepted narrative. As in many generations before us, we have fallen into the trap of “it can’t happen in our time.” The similarity to the first parts of the Purim story are all too clear but many of these lessons are for tomorrow.

The question for now is how we learn from the past – from the response of the Jewish people in the Purim story – to influence the outcome now. Looking into the Purim story, four things scream out to me in the events that signified our response:

Unity: The Jews stood alongside Esther and Mordechai…they fasted communally and acted in civil defense together to defeat Haman and the King’s decree.

Stand Resolute: Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman and Esther bravely approached the King. He and eventually the rest of the Jewish population stood firm against the tide and fought for survival.

Faith: G-d did not perform obvious miracles, Red Sea style, in the Purim story, but was a guiding hand and people fasted/prayed to G-d whilst also acting to save themselves physically.

Bravery: It took courage and bravery from those at the front to lead us through this dark time in the form of Mordechai and Esther and no doubt unnamed others.

We are doing many things which stand us in good stead across all fronts – the test will be to stay the journey and remain unified, standing resolute, prayer and deep faith, and continued bravery with the highest faith based principles of our finest soldiers.

For me, we are far from the end of this story – we are mourning, fighting, we have captives to return and an enemy to defeat and there are I am sure plot twists to come which we will need dig deep for but I pray we stick to the course and double down on the points above as other ancestors did against their version of antisemitism in the form of Haman and today’s Persia in the form of Haman.


About the Author
I live in Yad Binyamin having made Aliyah 17 years ago from London. I have an amazing wife and kids including a son in Special Forces and two daughters, one soon to start uni and one in high school. A partner of a global consulting firm and a Parkinson's patient and advocate.
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