I cannot believe that its almost Purim
again. While Im beginning to give thought to my
6-month-old daughters first costume, I am also
thinking about Purim's many wonderful and inspiring
messages, which I feel are so relevant to our times.
While reading the Megillah, we recall the heavy
price that the Jewish People were forced to pay, and
still are, for living in the Diaspora. Its
the same old story. We also re-read the life-threatening
conflict between Haman and Mordechai and are commanded
to always remember what it was that Amalek did to us
("Zachor et asher asa lecha Amalek"
Deuteronomy 25:17). Fast forward a few hundred years,
change the scenery and voila only this time instead
of the Amelikites trying to annihilate the Jewish People,
it is Islamic Jihad under the pretence of freedom
fighting. Same old
A different type of message altogether, which is no
less significant, which stresses the importance of a
strong and unified Jewish People. The Mitzvah
of Mishloach Manot, the giving of food and drink
to one another on Purim, symbolizes the value
of mutual accountability (Kol Israel arevim zeh bzeh).
This is a practical and by all means an attainable act
which will, especially nowadays, help preserve the strength
of our people.
In January, I had the privilege of accompanying a 100
strong mission of students from the Jewish Theological
Seminary to Israel. From my standpoint, this mission
was one great big Mishloach Manot to the People
of Israel. The perfect weather, which greeted us at
the airport, served as a gentle hint for the warmth
that was in store for us over the next four days. Almost
everywhere we went, we were greeted with authentic Israeli
kindness from the falafel vendors in Yaffo who thanked
us for our business (and commented on how long it had
been since they heard someone order Shawarma
in broken Hebrew), to the representatives of the Ministry
of Tourism who thanked us for coming. We were even thanked
by two young women (both recent olot new
immigrants) who were grief stricken by Palestinian terrorism,
one who lost her mother and the other who was severely
wounded. They thanked us for making the trip all the
way to Jerusalem to hear their stories so that we may
retell them and bring forth their messages that despite
all thats happened to them, theres no place
in the world for them other than the State of Israel.
The group reciprocated by thanking them for hanging
tough, thanked the Ministry of Tourisms representatives
for doing their jobs and the falafel vendors
for not giving up.
The reason for giving Mishloach Manot to one
another in Purim is to preserve the unity and
wholeness of our People. This is done by physically
giving something of substance. The mission from the
JTS served as precisely that to let the People
who Dwells in Zion know that they are not alone by physically
being there with them; herein lies the actual giving.
What greater form of solidarity, unity and brother/sisterhood
can YOU offer during these difficult times than showing
up for a visit?
I believe that Esthers motivation and will-power
to assert herself in front of Ahashverosh and
expose the wickedness of Haman stemmed from the
strong sense of support she felt from all the Jews,
as she says to Mordechai "go
gather together all the Jews who are present in Shushan,
and fast for me
so I will go to the king though
it is against the law" (Esther, 4:16-17).
Today is no different with strong support of
all the Jews in the Diaspora and an unequivocal sense
of commitment and unity, Israel will remain strong.
Same old story.
One of the students on the mission, while in Jerusalem,
asked a border patrol policeman for directions. After
giving the directions, he thanked the student for coming
to Israel and helping lift the spirits of the country.
The student then replied "No,
thank YOU. You are the one who is doing whats
commendable. Im only doing what Im supposed
to". This sense of gratitude was at the
core of the entire mission. The group came away with
a deep sense of how crucial and essential are the mere
presence and determination of our brothers and sisters
Top of page |
Newsletter main page | Spring
2003 main page