The timing of our calendar is impeccable, and Purim is very purposely upon us this coming week.
As I cook for Shabbat, I try to get my head around the parallels and messages.
1) We are “one nation, scattered and divided” as Haman defines us, and social media magnifies the cracks tenfold.
Purim comes to tell us firstly to remember Amalek. We should not be confused who are external enemies are, and build as many bridges as possible internally, even with our opponents, who will always be different from us. This Purim especially we will give Mishlochei Manot to people we are less in touch with during the year, for whatever the reason.
2) When Esther calls to “Go, gather all the Jews” she specifies those “that are in Shushan” – the then Capital of the Jewish world. In Israel, the nerve center of the Jewish world, mutual respect, unity, and humility are the non-military factors that have helped us defend against the Amaleks throughout our history.
3) We always read about the beautiful costume wardrobe of the Cohen Gadol on the Shabbat before Purim, which he wears “l’chavod u’l’tiferet”- for the “honor and glory” of his and God’s standing among the People. When we lose ourselves a bit on this muddled day, wearing costumes that minimize the seriousness with which we take ourselves throughout the year, we lower barriers between us. Our sense of connection with one another is the ultimate “outfit” of honor and beauty for the Jewish people.
4) 14 precious innocent Jews were murdered in the last month by Jew hating terrorists. Anguish and outrage at these evil, incomprehensible murders is a normal, healthy human reaction and God-forbid we should become numbed to our nation’s suffering and our enemies’ inhumanity.
God forbid the tzedaka-givers to Huwara should lose a family member to Arab terror, and we should remember the honor and kavod of Am Yisrael as a whole – particularly in the eyes of our death-seeking enemies – if we want to prevent the next terror attack.
5) And finally, there is a costume that unites most Jews from around the world. This week in Mihve Alon army base in northern Israel, we cheered on Iris and Tal, two lone soldiers from the FSU, as they declared loyalty to Israel and the IDF, after long personal journeys. They were among 467 new Oleh soldiers “from 48 countries, speaking 28 languages, and one Hebrew” in the words of the ceremony MC.
May we have many moments that remind us of the greatness of our nation, the greatness of these times, and the power of focusing on the good in each of us, versus our differences.
Shabbat shalom and to a Freilich Purim!