Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Zachor
To dedicate this lesson

How To Handle Haman


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Adar II 5 5776
You gotta love Purim! It’s so much fun: The costumes, the parades, the eating, the drinking, the revelry in shul, the noise, the drinking….no wonder it’s often rated as Judaism’s most popular holiday! In fact, there is even an opinion that when Moshiach comes, the Chagim will be
cancelled, but Purim will remain in effect & never be abolished!

And yet, the fact that Purim is a holiday at all is quite puzzling. After all, the Sages ruled that once we left Egypt for our own land, no events outside the Land of Israel - no matter how dramatic - could qualify as a permanent, national holiday on the Jewish calendar. And we know that Mordechai & Esther pleaded for years with the Sanhedrin before Purim was accepted as a full-fledged Chag. And - did you know? - there have been dozens, maybe hundreds of other "Purims" through-out our history – when Jews were saved from disaster – that
did not make the cut and have ben all but forgotten.

So what is it about this Purim that qualifies it eternally?!

The classic answer to this question is that two years after Achashverosh dies, his & Esther’s son Darius II takes the throne &
reinstates Cyrus’ permission for the Bet HaMikdash to be rebuilt (see Artscroll Megila introduction, page xxiv, for the complete chronology). This connects the events in Persia to the Holy Land, thus granting it sufficient justification for the entire Saga to be canonized within the books of Tanach.

But I have another idea. Have you ever considered just how outrageous & frightening a picture this story paints about life in Persia? No matter that the local Jews are "honored" citizens, as indicated by their being invited to the king’s lavish banquet; no matter that Mordechai is a trusted advisor in the palace. When the opportunity presents itself, the Jews are to be massacred! Hunted down & murdered, every last one of them, "from infant to elderly." And – had the Hand of G-d not intervened, via his many messengers – the Jews would have indeed
been massacred, in yet another tragic Holocaust.

Perhaps the Rabbis decided to include Purim & the Megila in our calendar year as an emblematic "cautionary tale" to Jews throughout history. To impress upon us how very precarious, how violently dangerous life in the Exile can be. Even in a place like Shushan, where Jews felt wanted and secure, fortunes can change in an instant.

As I have written before, when the murderous decree is discovered by the Jewish community, the Megila says, "V’Ha-Ir Shushan NEVOCHA;" the Jewish inhabitants of Shushan were but hapless, helpless "nebuchs." But when we are finally able to unite & fight for our lives – certainly a rarity in the Diaspora – "V’Ha-Ir Shushan TZAHALA V’Sameach." A Tzahal (IDF) in our own land, blessed by the Almighty, is the surest way to prevent another Haman from threatening our people.
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