Nechemia Schusterman

Why talking about the war with Hamas is like talking about Chanukah or Purim

I used to have a policy that in my shul that we don’t talk sports and we don’t talk politics. Period.

At the Kiddush a little bit of sports is allowed (we are Bostonians) after all), but politics is always forbidden. For me, the value of getting people closer to yiddishkeit, is more important than them agreeing with me politically. The risk of them getting “turned off” of yiddishkeit, because of a political difference with me, or anyone else in the shul for that matter, is simply not worth it.

As such, I was recently approached by a member of our congregation asking me why I have changed courses and started talking about the politics in the Middle East, particularly the war with the terrorist entity called Hamas.

My answer to them was very simple, “it is no different than talking about Chanukah or Purim.”

Let me explain. In both holidays mentioned, the gist (as with most Jewish holidays) is that they tried to annihilate us, the came close, with G-d’s help, we were saved, let’s party.

But the comparisons extend even further. In the prayers that we say in relation to both holidays also has strong resemblances.

We say, we were the “few against the many,” today, too, we are the lone sheep, amongst the nations of the world. The wolf is the media and the United Nations, not to mention the enemy di jour, the runt of the litter, the wicked Hamas who has shown their true colors. And then as now, we have and will continue to overcome.

“(We) the righteous and pure against the wicked and impure,” again an uncanny resemblance. We are your righteous and even as we fight, giving warnings, notifications, an unprecedented act in warfare, never seen before at any time in history. If that isn’t pure, and righteous, notifying the “innocent civilian” population, even though that takes away all tactical advantage, since the enemy (the wicked and impure) then gets to hide and put their unfortunate human shields in the line of fire to give fodder to a hungry media whetted tongues waiting for anti-Israel anti-Jew bait, I don’t know what is.

More similarities; during Purim it was a miracle embedded in nature, to protect against a scheming and devious snake, by the name of Haman., We were saved by a diplomatic Mordechai and Esther, and an embedded-in-nature-style like miracle from G-d. So too, today we are protecting against a different scheming snake that uses actual snake holes called tunnels of terror, and they just go by a different name, Hamas difference of one letter only. The diplomats this time, are the holy IDF and Jews of all stripes who are publicizing the truth, to a silly and foolish Achashverosh (world), and get them to change their mind, as well as doing Torah and Mitzvos and appealing to Hashem to rescind the decree.

And the similarities continue. As Jews then were united more than ever, now too, Jews have set their differences aside to focus on our singular goal; saving Am Yisroel.

So, when my congregant asked, how can I talk politics, I replied, “If I can talk about the holidays of Chanukah and Purim, I can talk about the events of today. And just as I must talk about these holidays, I must talk about these events – that will soon be a holiday. And while overt miracles may be less apparent (if you call Iron Dome anything less than a miracle, and the other dozens of stories that are now coming to light), it is no less than Purim. Where the wicked tried to wipe us out, and we overcame them, now too, the enemies of Israel try to wipe us out and they will not be successful.

Just as we commemorate those holidays by getting dressed up or lighting candles and telling the story, we must commemorate this holiday-in-the-making, even though the victory has not yet been secured, by doing things that will become eternal memorials, from Tefillin wearing to Shabbat Candle Lighting. Giving of Charity, saying psalms or whatever “observance” you’ve adopted.

And, just as it was a miracle to “remember” Amalek and not be afraid to say so, in fact it is a mitzvah in the Torah, and is read as such in the Torah, to call them out for the wicked that they are, so too, it is more than OK, to talk about the enemies of Yisroel in Shul, and it may very well be a mitzvah to so too. For when innocent Jewish and non-Jewish lives are at stake we cannot and must not stay silent.

About the Author
Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman is a Chabad Rabbi in Peabody MA. Together with his wife Raizel and 7 beautiful children, the run Jewish activities in the area. He is passionate about Israel and Judaism. He has authored articles, that have been widely published, including