By Rabbi Debbie Reichmann
What is the message of Purim?
As with most things, most stories, and most Jewish holidays there are many messages and lessons we can pull from the Book of Esther.
But, this year I can only see one. It is our duty to fight tyranny.
Haman, the villain of Purim, is one of the most despicable villains in all of Jewish culture and history. Because he was personally affronted by a single man of a particular ethnicity, he decided to wipe out the entire “offending” nation. It took courage, strength, and guile to foil his plans. It took faith in God and faith in humanity to bring him down.
Sound familiar? Sadly, this has echoed throughout history. But, today….Today it is happening again. For the most specious reasons a nation has been attacked, civilians are being targeted, lies and misinformation abound. (In case it isn’t obvious, the above reference is to the war in Ukraine, but. . . not only Ukraine).
I wish that fasting, prayer, and trick dinner invitation would be enough to end this horror, but that is doubtful. Instead, we must put our faith in the decisions of our leaders, in giving humanitarian aid, in resisting the allure of material comfort over helping those far away from us. These are not easy things to do, but they are necessary.
Purim is a holiday honored by actions. Giving gifts to friends (cementing the bonds of the community), giving to the poor (building a stronger community), and teaching history (ensuring the longevity of community). The history we teach is that tyrants can not be tolerated. This has never been a lightweight lesson, and the global situation today makes clear that it is a lesson for every generation, and a duty, as well.
Let the noise of the grogger drown out the name of Haman, and let it be a clarion call to action against cruelty and malice.
Purim 2022 starts on the evening of March 16.