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Who’s in the mood for Purim this year?

War, rape, hostages, and the rowdiest day on the Jewish calendar? I just couldn't face all that 'happy vibe' - until I reread Megillat Esther
Illustrative. Dressed-up Israelis take part in a parade during the festivities of the Jewish Purim festival on March 5, 2015, in the central Israeli city of Netanya. (AFP PHOTO/Jack Guez/File)
Illustrative. Dressed-up Israelis take part in a parade during the festivities of the Jewish Purim festival on March 5, 2015, in the central Israeli city of Netanya. (AFP PHOTO/Jack Guez/File)

Who is in the mood for Purim this year? I certainly am not.

The noisy balagan (chaotic) crowds in shul, the original costuming, thoughtful mishloach manot (sending food packages to one another), cooking for a large seuda (festive meal) and the general “happy vibe” are quite the opposite of where I am right now. Matanot la-evyonim (giving gifts to the poor) is the only Purim tradition I feel wholehearted about this year.

Our country is at war.

We do not know when. When will our lives feel some sense of security? Security at our borders? Security in our neighborhoods? Security within our government?

We do not know how. How many more losses will we be carrying in our hearts? How many injuries will we live through and with? How many hostages will return home?

We do not know why. Why are we forced to ask permission to defend our existence? Why is Jewish women’s suffering not immediately condemned? Why does Zionism have to wear the yellow star, be ostracized, within the global world?

Megillat Esther comes to mind.

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There is one nation scattered and dispersed among the nations throughout the provinces of your kingdom, whose laws are unlike those of any other nation and who do not obey the laws of the King” (3:8).

Here we are again, set aside, apart.

Letters were sent with couriers to all the provinces of the king: to annihilate, murder and destroy all the Jews, young and old, children and women, on one day the 13th day of the 12th month, which is the month of Adar and to plunder their possessions” (3:13).

This Jew hatred sounds all too familiar.

Yet all this is worthless to me whenever I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate!”(5:13).

Our mere existence is what troubles our enemies.

That the king had allowed the Jews of every city to gather and stand up for their lives; to annihilate, kill and destroy every army of any nation or province that might attack them…” (8:11).

We have a right to defend ourselves.

For if you will remain silent at this time, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source” (4:13).

We are an eternal nation.

And his wise men and his wife Zeresh told him, “If this Mordechai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail over him, for you will certainly fall before him” (6:13).

Yes, we will prevail.

So, Purim this year, is taking on new meaning. We must dress it that way. The noisy balagan crowds in shul are a testament to Am Yisrael Chai (the nation of Israel lives). The calls for ruthless Haman and his sons downfall is our daily hope. The mishloach manot are a small shadow of the endless outpouring of giving we experienced at the beginning of the war, and still witness today. The seuda, surrounded by close family and friends, is not to be taken for granted. We are a nation of survivors, a nation of giving and a nation that will stay together.

The megillah, with no mention of G-d’s name, has us looking for Divine intervention in our time. “The month which had been transformed for them from one of sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity to make them days of feasting, rejoicing….” (9:22).

And these days are commemorated and celebrated in every generation, by every family, in every province and every city. And these days of Purim will never pass from among the Jews, nor shall their memory depart from their descendants” (9:28).

These days, as well, will be remembered.

Happy Purim.

Translations from Megillat Esther, by Yosef Marcus, published by Kehot Publication Society

About the Author
Rachel Eichler Maron lives in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem. She made aliyah from New York after graduating Optometry School. Rachel and her Israeli husband of almost 29 years have raised four children. She has been writing poetry since the age of fourteen and is presently working on her memoirs. Rachel is a Doctor of Optometry who enjoys teaching at Hadassah Academic College and working in her private practice.
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