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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Purim Guide for the Perplexed 2013

A Purim lesson: Be wary of enemies, posing as partners of peace, concealing a strategic goal of extermination.
The courtroom of the International Military Tribunal, Nürnberg, 1946-1947.

The courtroom of the International Military Tribunal, Nürnberg, 1946-1947.
Photo Credit: USHMM.

10.  Purim’s four commandments:

*Reading/studying the Scroll of Esther within the family, highlighting the centrality of family, education, memory and youth as the foundation of a solid future.

*Gifts to relatives, friends and strangers emphasize the importance of family, community and collective responsibility.

*Charity (at least the value of a meal) reflects compassion and communal responsibility. According to Maimonides, “there is no greater or more glorious joy than bringing joy to the poor.” Purim is celebrated when Jews study the portion of the Torah, תרומה, which highlights giving and contributing to the other person as a means to enhance solidarity and reduce egotism.

*Celebration and Happiness sustain optimism and faith – the backbone of individuals and nations.

11.  Lethal enemy destroyed and lethal threat commemorated.  The pre-Purim Sabbath is called “Memorial Sabbath” (שבת זכור), commemorating the war of extermination launched by the Amalekites against the Jewish Nation, since the Exodus from Egypt.  A Purim lesson: Be wary of enemies, posing as partners of peace, concealing a strategic goal of extermination.

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About the Author: Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger is consultant to Israel’s Cabinet members and Israeli legislators, and lecturer in the U.S., Canada and Israel on Israel’s unique contributions to American interests, the foundations of U.S.-Israel relations, the Iranian threat, and Jewish-Arab issues.

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