Purim, thy name is vigilance

By Student Rabbi Aaron Rozovsky

Chag sameach!

Purim is a happy and joyous holiday, so much so that it is often taken to the point of sophomoric foolishness and juvenile frivolity.

Indeed, in Megillah 7ab of the Talmud it is written, “Rava said: “A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai'”.

What’s not to celebrate? Purim tells the story of a heroine who saves her people; the Jewish people who survive to live, study and worship G-d another day; and a man who is filled with blinding hatred and is ultimately undone by it.

What’s not to celebrate? Purim tells the story of a heroine who saves her people.

On Purim, we can let our hair down and rest easy. Or can we?

On the Shabbat prior to Purim, we have the special reading of Zachor (Deuteronomy 25: 17-19), which commands us to remember how the evil king Amalek butchered the old, sick and feeble as the Israelites came out of Egypt.

In other words, we temper our joyousness with the reminder that we have not always been so lucky. There are other Jewish events similar to that of Shabbat Zachor and Purim.

For example, the breaking of a glass at a wedding is supposed to represent and remind us of the destruction of the Temple. Again, pure happiness and joy is intentionally interwoven with a reminder of pain, suffering and sadness.

We temper our joyousness with the reminder that we have not always been so lucky.

As we approach Purim, we need to remind ourselves of the sad and unfortunate uptick of anti-Semitism that is taking place around the country.

Whether it has been the scores of bomb threats made to JCCs around the country, the vandalism of a synagogue in Chicago, the drawing of a swastika at Hebrew Union College and the toppling of dozens of headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri, the hatred expressed against Jews is not only shocking and reprehensible, it is also very real.

Judaism teaches us to be vigilant. Mordechai is the hero of Purim in that he uncovered the murderous plot against the Jews. Esther is the heroine because she risked her life in telling King Ahasuerus about it.

As we approach Purim, we need to remind ourselves of the sad and unfortunate uptick of anti-Semitism that is taking place around the country.

Elsewhere, in the Book of Judges, Gideon selected 300 warriors with whom to liberate Israel out of an army of 10,000 soldiers, based on those who held onto their swords and looked over their shoulders while they drank water — versus those who dropped their weapons and drank water using both their hands.

We must celebrate Purim. We must have moments of joy. We must, we simply must. But we can never forget, ignore or retreat from the fact that there is hate in the world.

Student Rabbi Aaron Rozovsky will serve UHC Terre Haute throughout the 2016-17 academic year.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments