Purim Today – 2012

Esther Scroll

Today, I attended the CIJR Colloquium on the Iranian question. Three professors, Prof. Frederick Krantz, Chair (Concordia University), Prof. Harold Waller (McGill University), and Prof. Norrin Ripsman (Concordia University) all spoke on the topic of Syria, Egypt and the “Arab Spring”: Israel’s Security Situation, following an introduction by Rabbi Yonah Rosner.

The Rabbi spoke using the drama of the Purim story as a backdrop. Yesterday, in synagogues in Israel and all over the world, Jews participated in Shabbat Zachor. It is the Sabbath before Purim, which reminds us “to remember and not to forget” those who have attacked our innocents in the past (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) or the dangers that these kinds of enemies pose at any time. In my synagogue, Rabbi Aigin also spoke about these issues.

Iran has made open and explicit threats to annihilate the Jewish people and wipe Israel off the map. Both Rabbis reminded us of Queen Esther’s injunction and the importance of Jewish unity in these kinds of threats. Our history tells us that threats are serious. And as Prof. Krantz (a historian), pointed out, the only difference between pre- Holocaust times and post-Holocaust times is that the Jewish people now have a state, the independent State of Israel, and a well-trained army and armaments to address these kinds of threats.

However, we are also reminded that the Book of Esther never mentions G-d, but only the acts and foibles of men and women, some ordinary and some in authority, Kings and Ministers. Tomorrow President Obama addresses AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the annual gathering of heads of American Jewish institutions and ordinary folk. We will all have to judge, is Obama Ahashverosh – the weak and easily influenced vacillating King described in the Purim Story who first has his Queen Vashti killed for insubordination. But rulers are not always wise or compassionate. We see this clearly in our own time. Most of them seem to be focused clearly on acquiring wealth and retaining power at any cost.

Prof Krantz reminded us of the heavy responsibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu now carries the responsibility of guarding over six million Jews in Israel and the fate of their brethren in the Diaspora. For our futures have and always will be linked. In the Purim story, Esther reminds us that if Jews have any hope for redemption, they must be united, especially in times of crisis.

The Purim scroll is called the Megillah, and it is a tradition to have fun and to put on satirical plays on Purim, called Purimshpiels in Yiddish. Another Yiddish expression is “man tracht und G-t lacht.” Man works, and G-d laughs or the English idiomatic equivalent is “Man proposes G-d disposes”.

This article: Remember: The Answer to Terrorism has a profound message regarding how to respond in the face of threats.

Happy Purim to all.