Tonight at sundown begins the Jewish Purim, a holiday which holds more significance today than ever. On Purim we celebrate the victory of the Jews over an evil man named Haman, who was the royal vizier of the King of Persia. Today Persia is called Iran.
The quick version of the story is Mordechai, the uncle and guardian of a young Jewess named Hadassah refuses to bow down to Haman(Jews only bow to God). Haman is outraged at this affront and he asks his boss the King for permission to use Persian forces to kill all the Jews because they are disloyal to his empire (Israel firsters?) Permission is granted. Haman picks the attack for the Jewish month of Adar because that is the month Moses died (not a great student of history Haman doesn’t realize that was also the month Moses was born). Haman chooses the exact date (the 14th) by drawing lots (in Hebrew Purim are lots, hence the name of the holiday.
The King decides to “fire” his queen because she wouldn’t dance naked in front of the Kings friends (remember there wasn’t late-night cable in those days). He holds an empire-wide beauty-pageant to pick the new queen. Mordechai’s niece Hadassah wins and becomes the new queen adopting a Persian name Esther (hiding the fact that she was Jewish).
Skipping to the end, Mordechai tells Esther of Haman’s plot and urges the new queen to ask the king to remove his permission. Because going to the king without permission can bring on a death sentence (some things in Iran never change) Esther asks all the Persian Jews to join her in three days of fasting and prayer before she attempts to see the King.
She enters the throne-room looking her “Hottest” and the king approves her visit. The king accepts her invitation to join her for a banquet (and bring Haman). At the banquet she ask for them to join her for another banquet the next night (the way to a man’s heart….).
On night two she reveals that she is Jewish and Haman is planning to
exterminate her people, which includes her. This angers the king who orders
Haman hanged along with his ten sons (on the very gallows the grand vizer had built to hang Esther’s Uncle Mordecai).
According to Persian law
previous decree against the Jews could not be annulled, so the King
allows Mordecai and Esther to write another decree as they wish. They
write one that allows the Jews to defend themselves during attacks. Which they do splendidly, the Jews are saved, Mordechai becomes the new vizer–let’s eat!
|The Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in Iran|
In this case its also lets drink. Purim is the only Jewish holiday where we are supposed to get drunk, which is why on Purim Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit becomes Jewish for a day.
The other way we celebrate the holiday is to wear masks because in a way everyone in the story was wearing a mask:
- The king has hidden his authority and given it to Haman.
- Esther even went as far as changing her name to hide her religion.
- Mordechai not only told Esther to hide her religion but he hid the fact that he was her uncle.
- Hamans plot to kill the Jews was hidden as well as his hatred of Mordechai.
Perhaps the biggest “hidden character” in the Purim story is God. Jews recognize that it was God who helped us come out safe in this battle against extermination even though there were no “splitting the Reed Sea” or “stopping the sun” type miracles.
Today just like those times in ancient Iran, the number two guy threatens to exterminate the Jews. This time its not with an army but with a nuclear bomb. And just like in the Purim story people are hiding their true faces.
- Iranian President Ahmadinejad hides the true intention of his nuclear program.
- US President hides his disdain for Israel.
- Palestinian President Abbas hides his refusal to negotiate.
- The EU simply hides its head in the sand.
Another interesting parallel is that the king couldn’t save the Jews, he could only grant permission for the Jews to save themselves. That is why Bibi Netanyahu met with President Obama this week, not to ask the United States to save the Jews, but to get permission for them to save themselves. If push comes to shove, Israel will defend herself with or with out permission because like in the Purim story, God may not be doing the overt miracles, but he will be with us just as he has since Abraham left his father’s house and moved to Israel almost 4,000 years ago.