July 23, 2024
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Responding to Global Barbarism: Insights From Purim and Beyond

As the echoes of Purim fade, we find ourselves contemplating the age-old struggle against hatred and oppression. The Purim narrative, with its cast of characters—Haman, Achashverosh, and the resilient Jewish people—offers profound insights into our response to global barbarism of Hamas and Iran.

 

The Plot Unfolds: Haman’s Hatred And Achashverosh’s Dilemma

Haman, fueled by irrational animosity, sought to annihilate the Jewish people. His malevolence knew no bounds; he envisioned a cruel and humiliating end for an entire community. But Achashverosh, the Persian king, hesitated. He rejected Haman’s brutal plan, opting for a more respectful approach. The Talmud (Megillah 14a) highlights Achashverosh’s sensitivity, sparing him from Haman’s harsh fate while retaining his high office.

This early instance of antisemitism reverberates through history. Today, antisemitism persists, manifesting itself in various forms—politics, international forums, sports, entertainment, education, and even among our government and acquaintances. How do we respond to this rising tide of hatred?

 

Drawing Strength From Our Identity

The Jews of Persia faced annihilation, yet they did not retreat into anonymity. Instead, they embraced their identity more fervently. In the face of irrational hate, they remained steadfastly Jewish. Why? Because our identity is not defined by external forces; it is rooted in our blessings of the happiness, family, love, life and moral compass bestowed upon us by our Torah. It should be noted that Israel placed fifth in the 2024 Global Happiness rating.

We don’t combat emptiness by becoming more empty. Instead, we stand proudly and defiantly, trusting in God and remaining loyal to our people. Our resilience lies not in assimilation but in unwavering commitment.

 

Beyond Identity: Political And Military Measures

Yet, the Jews of Persia did not rely solely on faith. They took practical steps to protect themselves. Similarly, in our complex world, we must blend hope with action. Here are some modern parallels:

Advocacy and Education: We combat ignorance with knowledge. Educating many segments of the Jewish people and others about our history, culture, and contributions dispels misconceptions. Advocacy organizations play a crucial role in countering antisemitism.

Community Unity: Like the Jews of Persia, we must stand together. Our strength lies in unity. When antisemitism rears its head, we respond as a cohesive community, amplifying our voices.

Political Engagement: We engage in the political arena, advocating for policies that promote tolerance, inclusivity and justice. Our votes matter; they shape the world we leave for future generations.

Military Response—Just as the Jews of Persia protected the Jewish people militarily, the IDF defends the Jews of Israel.

 

The IDF and Defending Our Existence

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) exemplify this blend of hope and action. They defend our homeland, ensuring that the void left by hatred is not filled with despair. The IDF’s miraculous efforts safeguard our people, echoing the spirit of Purim.

 

The IDF’s Noble Mission: Safeguarding Lives Amidst Conflict

The Israel Defense Forces have undertaken a formidable task—protecting not only Israeli citizens but also the civilians caught in the crossfire, particularly in the Gaza Strip. Colonel Richard Kemp, commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, asserts that the IDF surpasses other armies in safeguarding civilian rights during combat. Let us explore the extraordinary measures taken by the IDF and the timeless lessons we can draw from history.

 

Unprecedented Measures For Civilian Safety

The IDF’s commitment to minimizing civilian casualties is unparalleled. Consider these remarkable actions:

Advanced Warnings—The IDF goes to great lengths to notify Gaza civilians of targeted areas. Millions of leaflets are dropped, radio messages broadcasted, texts sent, and tens of thousands of phone calls made. Imagine this: Israeli soldiers calling Gazans on their cell phones, urging them to evacuate their residences and seek safety. Never before has an army directly informed its enemy where bombs would fall.

Risking Their Own Safety—IDF missions, which could have neutralized Hamas military capabilities, were often aborted to prevent civilian casualties. This self-imposed restraint increases the risk to Israeli citizens and soldiers but underscores the IDF’s commitment to preserving innocent lives.

Combatting Misinformation—Despite these efforts, antisemites label Israel’s actions as genocide. But the truth lies in the IDF’s unwavering dedication to both defense and humanity.

 

Drawing Inspiration From Haman and Purim

Haman, too, harbored emptiness—an insatiable void that consumed him. Yet, his malevolence birthed Purim, a holiday where Jewish children joyfully drown out his name during Megillah readings. Why? Because we refuse to be swallowed by darkness. Instead, we fight evil with light, filling voids with hope.

 

Our Miraculous Victory

In the near future, we will celebrate another miraculous victory—the defeat of Hamas terrorists and Iranian aggression and the safe release of our hostages. We will commemorate not only the protection of the Jewish people but the entire civilized world. It will symbolize our resilience against cruelty and barbarism.

As we honor Purim, let us remember that our fight extends beyond borders. The IDF’s mission echoes through history: to protect lives, uphold justice, and bring light to a world often shrouded in darkness.

In conclusion, let us draw inspiration from our ancient past and apply it to our present reality. May we remain unyielding in our identity, compassionate in our actions, and resolute in our pursuit of a world free from barbarism.


Rabbi Paul Bloom is a retired IBM/Bellcore executive who now lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Ettie.

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