Eretz Yisrael Time

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Friday, March 21, 2008
As I’m reading the Megillah, something in the story really began to bother me.

Something quite scary.

What actually changed in the end?

Mordechai did nothing more than send out an official letter to the Jews that they should defend themselves against the oncoming onslaught.

What?

Does this mean the Jews were not going to defend themselves?

Were they were going to be good, quiet citizens and go like sheep to the slaughter?
Were they were going to let Amalek kassams arrows rain down on their heads?
Were they so afraid to go against the goyim, the authorities or the establishment?

I think the answer is yes, they were not going to defend themselves.

I think the Jews of Purim were going to passively participate in their own destruction.

Perhaps no different than when we waited on the shores of Yam Suf (millions of people, armed to the teeth) while a mere few hundred Egyptian chariots chased after them (or other historical events of more recent vintage).

Perhaps that is an important message of Purim (and Chanukah too for that matter, though Purim really shows how far it goes).

The message here is that the Jews as a group always have the ability to defend ourselves. What we lack is the will .

Nothing changed in Mordechai’s message, except they suddenly got permission from the authorities to not die passively.

Why did they need that “permission”?

They didn’t, but they thought they did, just like we thought we did in so many other recent and historical attacks against our people. Just like we think today.

Perhaps we need a “leader” to rally around as a group. But perhaps not, as we saw Esther was willing to play her role as an individual (with the spiritual backup of the nation).

Mordechai certainly wasn’t leading the revolt directly (so it seems), but he did stand up (literally) for what was right.

We as individuals have to do the right thing when it comes to protecting our nation, and we as a group can not be afraid to fully and completely defend ourselves against our enemies.

Only after the Jews absolutely defend themselves, do we suddenly we see Bush Achashverosh and his empire giving our nation the healthy respect (and fear) we deserve.

In short, nothing changed before or after Mordechai’s letter, only our internal perception of the events and our ability to change our environment and future.

That is my lesson to you this Purim.

Chag Sameach.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post!!!

Howard Huges

biryon said...

Or perhaps, Achashverosh' letter gave the Jews "international legitimacy" for their self-defense. They had always had enemies - "oyveihem" and "soneihem". But now, through negotiations with the king, they received permission to defeat their enemies without having the international power(s) intervene to help the other side. Beforehand, resorting to armed defense would have been truly suicidal. Now, as Mordechai was clear-headed enough to understand, the conditions were right for self-defence.

So you see, the megillah actually supports the peace camp.

Renegade said...

2 things:
1. I dont know if there was much they could've done even if they would fight, considering that achashverosh ruled the entire world at that time and there was no safe haven for them to run to. wherever they lived that land was under the decree.
2. they were given permission to proactively go all out and totally destroy the enemy, not just do the bare minimum to try to save they're own lives. as the decree said:
"l'hashmid laharog ul'abed es kol cheil am umedina hatzarim osam taf v'nashim..."
(to annihilate, kill and destroy every army of any nation or province that might attack them, [including their] children and women)

Biryon:
1. you said: "resorting to armed defense would have been truly suicidal." are you suggesting that had it come down to the point where the jews where actually being attacked they should not try to defend themselves? they should go like sheep to the slaughter?
maybe they cant win the fight but if you're going to be killed anyhow might as well take as many of them with you as you can.
2. it wasn't international legitimacy for their "self-defense", it was the superpower "switching sides"

JoeSettler said...

As I hopped from meal to meal on Purim and Shushan Purim (and Shabbat in between), I asked this question of nearly everyone.

The best alternative answer I got was as follows:

The letter changed not the Jew’s perception, but the perception of the goyim.

Once the citizens saw that the King had switched sides and wasn't giving carte blanche to massacre all the Jews anymore, the only people left that were planning to go through with Haman's plans were the hardcore enemies of the Jews, not the velt that goes along with whatever way the wind blows.

So with the official removal of support for the genocide, the universal plan to kill the Jews diminished from a definitive genocide, to a routable war.

And that's what made the difference.

biryon said...

renegade:

I assume that, in practice, Haman's genocide would not have been total. The Nazis were able to kill basically every last Jew under their control, but Pharaoh wasn't. I assume the circumstances in ancient Persia were more like those in ancient Egypt.

If you know for sure they will kill you, then there's nothing to lose, so of course you should fight back.

Naftali said...

Your question 'bothers' me every time I read the Megillah, but I have thought for sometime now that what changed with the royal permission was that there was now a guarantee that the Persian military and police forces would remain on the sidelines.

Hassidish Spaniard said...

Interesting points have been made by each of the commentors, excepting Biryon the oysvorf. Naftali's comment of "Persian military and police forces would remain on the sidelines" which lies parallel to Renegade's "it was the superpower "switching sides"" sounds the most likely. One must recall that preceding many genocides, laws are passed forbidding the "genocidees" from owning weapons with which they may defend themselves.

* In 1929 the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953 approximately 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* In 1911 Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* In 1928 Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, 13 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill and other who were unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
* In 1935, China established gun control. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.
* In 1964 Guatemala established gun control. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated
* In 1970 Uganda established gun control. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.
* In 1956, Cambodia, established gun control. From 1975 to 1977, one million "educated" people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated

The royal decree which was due to Mordecai ensured that no local governmental body would have have the opportunity to pass such laws.

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