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On Wednesday evening Jews all across the world will celebrate the holiday of Purim which commemorates 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. Purim is the perfect holiday for this political season as the entire story is about people representing themselves as something they’re not.

By the way, on Purim we read the Megillat Esther, “The Scroll of Esther,” the firsthand account of the events of Purim, written by the heroes themselves Esther (whose real name was Hadassah) and her Uncle Mordechai. Megillat Esther is where the expression ‘The whole Megillah” comes from.” (I am sorry if I ruined it for those who thought it came from the old cartoon Magilla Gorilla).

The quick version of the story is Mordechai, the uncle and guardian of a young Jewess named Hadassah discovers a plot to kill the king, he informs the royal guards and the plot is foiled and the King is grateful.

Son after Mordechai refuses to bow down to the royal vizier 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 (kind of like the anti-Semites today who believe American Jews have a dual loyalty).  The king grants Haman his wish.

Haman picks the attack for the Jewish month of Adar figuring that it must be bad luck for the Jews because that is the month Moses died (not a great student of history Haman didn’t realize that Moses was also born in Adar making it a very good month).  Haman chooses the exact date (the 14th) by drawing lots (in Hebrew Purim are lots, hence the name of the holiday).

While all this was going on, the King decides to “fire” his queen because she wouldn’t dance naked in front of the King’s friends (remember there wasn’t late-night cable or internet porn 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. But going to the king without permission can bring on a death sentence (some things in Iran never change), so first 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–so like most Jewish holidays…let’s eat!

Purim is a great holiday for Kids, we wear costumes and masks, and when the Megillah is read every time the name Haman comes up they use noise makers to drown out his name.

Tomb_of_Esther_and_Mordecai_-_Hamadan
The Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in Iran

Along with the traditional, “let’s eat,” Purim is the only Jewish holiday where we are supposed to get drunk (we are supposed to drink until we don’t know the difference between Mordechai and Haman) Which is why I suppose that on Purim Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit becomes Jewish for the 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 the leaders of Persia (Iran) also seeks to destroy 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.

  • Iran hides the real intention of his nuclear program.
  • The US President hides his disdain for the Jews and Israel.
  • Palestinian President Abbas hides his refusal to negotiate.
  • The EU simply hides its head in the sand.

You may remember the famous Stuxnet computer virus that wiped out Iran’s nuclear centrifuges for a year. That virus was undoubtedly created by Israel because it was connected to Purim. The first directory inside the virus is named “Myrtus.” The person/people who developed the virus could simply be amateur horticulturists and the use of Myrtus could simply refer to the myrtle plant. But the Hebrew word for myrtle is also the root of name Hadassah which is Queen Esther’s Hebrew name.

Since Iran is the modern day Persia (where the Purim Heroes Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai lived), and the computer virus is meant to stop the destruction of millions of Jews in Israel, the name of the file seemed to be a message from Israel to the modern Haman’s running Iran.

Another interesting parallel to today is that the king couldn’t save the Jews, he could only grant permission for the Jews to save themselves. In this case the King–President Obama withholds his permission. But 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 (and really hasn’t since the 1969 Mets), 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.

This year, Purim is also reminiscent of the 2016 race for president. Hillary Clinton is hiding the fact that she was criminally negligent with Americas secrets, and like her former boss Barack Obama she hides her distain for the nation of Israel. Bernie Sanders is wearing a mask to cover the fact that socialism has never worked in any country.  On the GOP side, John Kasich hides the fact that even he knows there is no way he will get the Republican nomination. And Donald Trump’s bullying and outrageous statements meant to hide his many political flip-flops and lack of substance.

By the way Purim is a Rabbinical-created holiday rather than one created by God in the Torah.  This means that if any of my fellow Jews try to take the day off, they are hiding the fact that work is permissible on Purim.

 

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