Monday, March 21, 2011

Purim 2011

On March 17th, 2011, the United Nations Security Council approved a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya, authorizing "All Necessary Measures" to protect civilians.

On Saturday evening, March 19th, 2011, international forces began to bomb Libya.

March 17th, 2011 was Adar 11, 5771 on the Jewish calendar – the Fast of Esther.

Saturday Evening, March 19th, 2011 was Adar 14, 5771 on the Jewish calendar – Purim.


 

According to the Megillas Esther; the Story of Purim, the Fast of Esther was the day that the Jews of Persia did teshuvah; repentance. They beseeched G-d on that day to overturn the decree of the Wicked Haman to eradicate the Jews of Persia.

And, on Purim, instead of the Jews, Haman and his wicked sons were eradicated.


 

Teshuvah.

The Purim story is all about teshuvah; repentance.

Hashem sends His messages into This World that we need to turn towards Him.


 

Events happen.

But, when they happen in Adar; when they happen on Purim - I ask "why?"

"Why now?"


 

I began a modern timeline of Purim as a result of this question when the United States declared war on Saddam Hussein on Purim in 2003.

I asked myself why were things in Iraq happening on Purim?

Of course, even before my timeline, numerous historical occurrences, both tragic and miraculous have occurred on Purim, or in Adar, throughout the Ages.

A few of the more profound occurrences that are directly related to our own time are:

In 1774, the troops of Karim Khan, a Persian who wanted to destroy the Jews of Basra, were defeated in a great slaughter of his troops, on Purim, by the local Arabs near Basra.

In 1946, Julius Streicher, a Nazi war criminal, made reference to Purim before he was hung.

In 1953, Stalin had a stroke on Purim and subsequently died.


 

My timeline begins in 1991, when Saddam Hussein surrendered to President George Bush on Purim, after a great slaughter of his troops, at Basra.

In 1994, Boruch Goldstein murdered 29 Arabs in cold blood, at Mearas ha Machpelah; the Cave of the Partriachs, on Purim.

In 2003, President George Bush declared war on Saddam Hussein, on Purim.

In 2004, the 1st Iraqi Constitution was supposed to be signed on Purim. The Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the leader of the Shia Muslims in Iraq, for no apparent reason, pushed off the signing to occur on Shushan Purim, in the walled city of Baghdad.

And, in 2011, international forces, with the blessings of the entire Arab world, began to bomb Libya –on Purim.


 

In my original Purim timeline, I correspond the year 1991 with the first year of the reign of King Achashverosh, which actually occurs three years before Megillas Esther begins the Story of Purim.

1994 corresponds to the beginning of the Megillah, where the Jews ate at the banquet of Achasheverosh (and were thereby condemned by G-d).

2003 corresponds to the year that the Megillah describes how Haman and his ten sons were hung, which would have been the 12th year of the reign of Achashverosh.

2004 corresponds to the decrees by Mordechai and Esther, establishing the legal holidays of Purim and Shushan Purim, which occurred a year later in the Megillah after Haman and those who wished to destroy the Jews were defeated.


 

And, as an addendum - according to chazal, our Great Rabbis, the Second Temple was rebuilt two years after the end of Megillas Esther.

This would have corresponded to 2006, the year that Saddam Hussein was hung.


 

Purim is the story of G-d's Hidden Hand in our world, in This World where we learn that Everything is under the Hand of Hashem.


 

I look at the events of today, and of yesterday, that happen on Purim - and I come to understand that it is the same story today and yesterday.


 

The Story is not only about the Miracles of Purim and the amazing "coincidences," which are not coincidences at all, that are associated with these dates of Purim but, it is about the whole point of the Megillah, which is that the Jewish Nation do teshuvah.

Haman is Amalek.

Amalek wants to murder the Jews.

And, the ONLY way to stop Amalek is to turn to G-d and do what He commands us to do.

We are taught that in every generation, Amalek wants to wipe out the Jews. In every generation, there is a Haman, a descendant of Amalek, who wants to utterly annihilate the Jews.

And, the Cure against this Haman; this Amalek, is for the Jewish Nation, with one heart, to turn to Hashem and do teshuvah…


 

Today's Purim is no different than the miracles of any other year.

This year, on Purim, international forces began to bomb Libya, attacking today's Haman, Muammar Gaddafi, the evil dictator of Libya.

The amazing thing about this is, that from a Jewish point of view, Gaddafi does not seem to be the most likely candidate for today's Haman. Yes, he has made lunatic statements such as that Israel is responsible for all of the unrest in Africa, but most of the world seems to believe that Israel is responsible for most of the world's ills.

Gaddafi certainly doesn't appear to approach the same level of Evil as does Amadinejad of Iran or Nasrallah of Hezbollah or even (the dead) Osama bin Laden.

The Hidden Hand of G-d has apparently chosen the crazy, psychopathic Muammar Gaddafi as today's Haman.

This year, as the international forces were bombing Libya, we were either celebrating Purim, the holiday of our deliverance or – remembering to eradicate the Name and Remembrance of Amalek. This year, Parshas Zachor, the Shabbos where we are commanded to Remember to eradicate the Evil Amalekites, was on Saturday, March 19th, the day immediately before Purim.


 

On one hand, it appears to me that G-d has chosen Gaddafi as this year's Amalek. On the other hand, G-d has terrible ways of telling us who, exactly, Amalek is.


 

Dennis Prager, a Conservative talk radio show host, wrote a column for Townhall.com, called "The Other Tsunami."

It deals with the brutal murders at Itamar in Israel that happened last week, in the midst of Adar:

It is very difficult to hate babies.

It takes a special person.

As morally wrong as it is to murder innocent adults, mankind seems to have a built-in revulsion against killing babies. If a baby does not evoke any tenderness, if a baby is regarded as worthy of being deliberately hurt or murdered, we know that we have encountered a degree of evil that few humans -- even among murderers -- can relate to.

That is why what Palestinian terrorists did to a Jewish family on the West Bank this past weekend deserves far more attention than it received.

Normally, Palestinian atrocities get little attention -- certainly far less attention than Israeli apartment-building on the West Bank receives. But this particular atrocity got even less attention than usual because the world was focused on the terrible tsunami that hit Japan.

On Friday night, Palestinian terrorists slipped into a Jewish settlement, entered a home and stabbed the father, the mother and three of their children to death: an 11-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a three-month-old baby.

In order to understand what those actions mean, a seemingly separate incident needs to be recalled: the prolonged sexual attack by up to 200 Egyptian men on Lara Logan, chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, in Tahrir Square, Cairo a few weeks ago. It was reported that after stripping her naked and then molesting and beating her, the men kept shouting, "Jew, Jew!"

The two incidents tell the same tale. In much of the Arab Muslim and some of the non-Arab Muslim world today (such as Iran), "Jew" is not a person. "Jew" is not even merely the enemy. In fact, there is no parallel on Earth to what "Jew" means to a hundred million, perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Think of any conflict in the world -- Pakistan-India, China-Tibet, North Korea-South Korea, Tamil-Sinhalese. There are some deep hatreds there, and atrocities have been committed on one or both sides of those conflicts. But in none of those conflicts nor anywhere else is there something equivalent to what "Jew" means to millions of Muslims.

There really is only one historical parallel, and it, too, involved the word "Jew." The Nazis also succeeded in fully dehumanizing the word "Jew." Thus, for Nazism, it was as important (if not more so) to murder Jewish babies and children -- often through as cruel a means as possible (being burned alive, buried alive or thrown up in the air and impaled on bayonets) -- as it was to murder Jewish adults.

The human being does not have to learn to hate. It seems to come pretty naturally. Nor does the human being have to learn to murder, steal or rape. These, too, seem to be in the natural human repertoire of evils.

But the human being does have to learn to hate children and babies, and to regard the torture and murder of them as morally desirable acts. It takes years of work to undo normal protective human attitudes toward children.

That is precisely what the Nazis did and what significant parts of the Muslim world have done to the word "Jew." To them, the Jew is not just sub-human; the Jew -- and his or her children -- is sub-animal.

Palestinian and other Muslim spokesmen and their supporters on the left argue that this unique hatred is the fruit of Israeli policies, not decades of Nazi-like Jew-hatred saturating Islamic education, television, radio and the mosque. But for this to be true, unique hatred would have to be matched by unique evil on the Israelis' part.

Yet, among the injustices of the world, what the Israelis have done to the Palestinians would not even register on a moral Richter scale. The creation of Israel engendered about 750,000 Palestinian refugees (and an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries) and the death of perhaps 10 thousand Palestinian Arabs. And all of that came about solely because Arab armies invaded Israel in order to destroy it at birth. Yet, when Pakistan was yanked from India and established as a Muslim state at the very same time Israel was established, that act engendered 12.5 million Muslim refugees and about a million dead Muslims (and similar numbers of Hindu refugees and deaths). Why then doesn't "Hindu" equal "Jew" in the Muslim lexicon of hate?

Here are some answers in brief:

First, many groups have been hated, but none have been hated as deeply as the Jews.

Second, Jew-hatred is often exterminationist, which is why Jew-hatred has little in common with ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance or even racism. Rarely, if ever, do any of them seek the extermination of the disliked or hated group.

Third, exterminationist Jew-haters are particularly dangerous people. Non-Jews who do not recognize Jew-hatred as the moral cancer it is are fools. Nazism was born in Jew-hatred and led to the death of more than 40 million non-Jews. Islamic terror started against Israeli Jews but has spread around the world. More fellow Muslims have now been murdered by Islamic terror than Jews have.

That is why the tsunami the world ignored this weekend -- the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim flood of Jew-hatred -- is the one that will prove far more dangerous to it than the Japanese one it understandably focused on.


 

It is as if G-d is grabbing the Jewish Nation by the lapels and shaking us, demanding that we recognize Amalek.

This is Amalek. This is who wants to eradicate Israel - those who murder babies. And, we are Commanded by G-d to Remember to eradicate Amalek – forever.

The time of Purim tells us that there are no coincidences.


 

These unspeakable horrors that occur specifically to the Jewish people during the month of Adar are not new.

Eight boys were slaughtered by Amalek at the Yeshiva Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem on Rosh Chodesh Adar in 2008.


 

Hashem never stops asking us to do teshuvah.

And, Hashem never stops telling us to Remember to Eradicate Amalek.

And, He never stops telling us exactly who Amalek is.


 

This presents us with a huge dilemma.

On one hand, chazal, tell us that we cannot and do not know who is Amalek, as Sancheriv, the Assyrian king, relocated; mixed up, all of the nations when he was conquering the world.

On the other hand, G-d deliberately shows us Amalek by making these events coincide with Purim and Adar.


 

Hashem shows us who are Amalekites by having the generals of Saddam Hussein surrender to the Coalition Forces under the Aegis of President George Herbert Walker Bush, at Basra, the site of a great massacre of the enemies of the Jews, on Purim in 1991.


 

However, in 1994, Hashem shows us the dangers of deciding who is Amalek "just because…"

If 1994 corresponds to my timeline of Megillas Esther, then 1994 was the year that the Jews of Shushan ate at the banquet of Achashverosh and thus, Hashem allowed Haman to promulgate his evil decree to eradicate all the Jews of Persia.


 

Megillas Esther begins in the third year of King Achashverosh's reign, when he decides to throw a great big party celebrating the failure of G-d to redeem the Jews from the bondage of exile and of G-d's failure to rebuild His Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

At this banquet, Achashverosh serves food and wine using the Holy Vessels stolen from the First Temple.

In the Talmud, in Tractate Megillah (12a), it says:

The students asked Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai: "Why did the Jews of that generation deserve annihilation?"

He told them, "What do you think?"

They said, "Because they enjoyed partaking in the great party of Achashverosh [an event that took place roughly nine years before Haman issued his edict].

He objected, "In that case, the Jews of Shushan, the capital, [the Jews who attended this party] would deserve such a punishment, but why would all the Jews in the world who did not participate be included in the edict of destruction?"

They said, "You're right, so you tell us."

He said, "They bowed to the idol of Nebuchadnezzar [an event that took place roughly seventy years earlier]."

They objected, "If so why indeed were they not wiped out? Does God show favoritism?"

He said, "They didn't mean it in their hearts and only did it out of respect to the king, so the edict against them was also not issued by God with finality and therefore could be revoked."

According to our Rabbis, the Jews of Persia were condemned to be killed by Haman's evil decree because they sinned against G-d by worshipping idols and by taking pleasure in the blasphemous party of King Achashverosh.


 

In my timeline, this date corresponds to February 25th, 1994, when Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Arabs worshipping at the Mearas ha Machpelah; the Cave of the Patriarchs, in Chevron, in the Land of Israel. The date was the 14th of Adar, 5754, Purim.

The most hideous mass murder ever committed by a Jew in the name of his religion was perpetrated on the Purim that matches the year that Hashem decreed that the Jews of Persia should be annihilated for their unforgivable sins.


 

Purim is also a story of redemption. G-d allowed the evil enemy of the Jews, Haman, to persuade King Achashverosh that the Jews should be annihilated.

Mordechai and Esther inspired the entire Jewish nation to do teshuva – to sincerely repent for their sins. And they did! All of Israel repented; Haman, the Enemy of the Jews was destroyed; Mordechai became Achashverosh's Prime Minister in place of Haman… And "the Jews had light and gladness, joy and honor."

And, the Second Temple was rebuilt.

In the timeline of my Purim Torah – today, the equivalent of the Second Temple being rebuilt should have occurred by now.


 

The main miracle of Purim is the story of the Jewish Nation doing Teshuvah.

Today, in spite of G-d's Hidden Hand in the Messages that He is constantly sending us every year in Adar and on Purim, it does not appear that the Jewish Nation has done teshuvah.


 

Dennis Prager also often repeats another quote – that those who are kind to the cruel will be cruel to the kind.

This quote usually refers to treating those that commit hideous crimes with compassion.


 

Hashem allowed the Jews to defend themselves and annihilate their enemies at the End of the Purim Story, after the entire Jewish nation had done teshuva.

He did not allow them to strike at their enemies whilst they were at the banquet sinning against G-d.


 

We should pray that we will all turn towards G-d in teshuvah and remember to eradicate Amalek, in all of his disguises…