Purim - Don't Lose Hope
The current spate of anti-Semitic media cartoons, op-eds and boycott
movements serve to remind us that Amalek is alive and thriving as usual.
There was a short period of time a few decades ago when many Jews were
lulled into thinking that all of this baseless hatred and nastiness was a
thing of the past. Even the most naive among us today realize that this is
unfortunately not the case. Therefore, remembering Amalek is a relatively
easy commandment to fulfill today - one need only read the newspaper or
listen to the radio or TV or view the internet to meet Amalek face to face,
live and in person.
How to counteract and deal with Amalek has been a continuing and never
ending problem throughout Jewish history. Apparently, no satisfactory and
permanent solution to the problem has ever been found. Perhaps that in
itself is the basic lesson of the commandment of remembering Amalek. We have
to remember that the problem is constant and continuing and that it has
remained insoluble for millennia.
We should not be surprised or even overly discouraged by its sinister
presence in our lives and world today. We must do everything possible to
combat it but we should always remember that it is not given to pat
solutions or wishful thinking. It is apparently part of the Jewish condition
- our very terms of existence.
The story of Purim is the story of Amalek contained, but not completely
defeated and destroyed. Haman is hydra- headed and has always had disciples
and followers. Haman and his sons were thwarted and hanged but that did not
prove to be much of a deterrent to all of the Hamans that have followed
In terms of the destruction of Jews, Hitler was far more successful than
was Haman having killed six million Jews in five years of hate and terror.
Yet Hitler destroyed Germany completely as well, with far more Germans than
Jews being killed in that terrible and tragic war.
So again, one would think that the lesson of Amalek would have been learned
by now. But the reality of Amalek is that it defies logic, self-interest and
history and its lessons. Purim is our only hope in containing Amalek. Purim
is always hidden, unpredictable, surprising and unexpected. Yet it is also a
constant in Jewish life and history.
The survival of the Jewish people remains as the miracle of all history and
that miracle is omnipresent in our current world. The existence and
accomplishments of the State of Israel is an offshoot of this constant and
continuing miracle. Israel and its achievements give us a sense of Purim
every day of the year. The miracle may not be superficially visible but it
is certainly present and alive.
The Talmud's statement about the inability to distinguish between Haman and
Mordechai is indicative of the mystery of Purim. Purim is not always what it
appears to be at first glance. It is the hidden part of Purim that
fascinates and confuses us. Our salvation is always unexpected and many
times defies any form of human wisdom and expertise.
Purim tells us never to despair or lose hope regarding our current
difficulties and uncertain future. It is easy to fall into a funk when
viewing all of the difficulties that surround us. Purim preaches to us that
such a dark attitude is inconsistent with Jewish faith and Torah values.
That is why the rabbis stated that only Purim is the only eternal holiday on
the Jewish calendar.
We will always need Purim and its message to continue to function and
achieve. For without Purim present and operative, we fall into fearing that
Amalek may yet, God forbid, triumph. So let us rejoice in the knowledge that
Purim is here with us and all will yet be well for the nation and people of
Mordechai and Esther.