web analytics
July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Purim, Power, And Politics


One of the many lessons the Purim story teaches us is how fast and far the powerful can fall. It is a fate even more fitting when they fall over a stumbling block placed in front of them by their own hand. Haman hanged from the very gallows he had prepared for Mordechai.

That’s one of the many thoughts that have crossed my mind since the Eliot Spitzer scandal broke. Spitzer is not the first public figure to fall from grace, but the hypocrisy of his actions is stunning, almost poignant. Behold, one of the most arrogant politicians of our time, who fashioned himself the righteous zealot rooting out corruption in high places, resigns in a mudbath of moral disgrace.

Arrogance, I believe, is what makes an otherwise intelligent man think he can get away with appalling transgressions. Bill Clinton possessed the same hubris. And so, millennia ago, did Haman. Just like his ancestor, Amalek.

To start up with the Jews, God’s people, takes nerve. Chutzpah. Wasn’t that Amalek’s great sin? Ambushing a weary B’nei Yisrael after having witnessed with their own eyes the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of the entire Egyptian army? God vanquished Amalek in that battle, but did not allow the nation to be finished off completely. Rather, He pledged its eventual destruction, in effect branding Amalek the eternal enemy of the Jewish people. As Moshe declared, “Hashem maintains a war against Amalek from generation to generation.”

By making war against the Jews that one time – an act of incredible arrogance – Amalek dug its own grave in the sands of history.

Fast forward to ancient Persia. The remarkable success story of the Jewish people must have been grudgingly recognized by the surrounding non-Jews. As Haman’s own “aishet chayil,” Zeresh, warned her husband (albeit too late): “If Mordechai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but will undoubtedly fall before him.”

But Haman, too, was done in by his own arrogance. He was vain and power-hungry, and therefore his grasp on reality had begun to slacken. When Esther invited him to her private banquet, two nights in a row, he should have been suspect. Instead he was elated. Not only did he appear with bells on for what was to be his own denouement, he literally fell upon Esther on her couch, thereby incriminating himself on a wholly different charge.

Esther, on the other hand, wielded great influence without a hint of arrogance. Like Moshe, she was an unwilling savior, hand-picked by God to take on a role she neither sought nor desired. And yet she rose to the task with grace and judgment worthy of a seasoned leader.

Megillat Esther is full of drama, but my favorite scene has always been the exchange, via messenger, between Mordechai and Esther at the end of Chapter 4, when he relates the impending annihilation of the Jews and implores her to intercede with the king. At first, Esther refuses. She is afraid; she feels powerless, constrained by the rules of the royal court that bar one from appearing unbidden before the king. But Mordechai fires her up with his response, concluding: “And who knows if it was for just such a time as this that you attained a royal position!”

Esther is swayed; she accepts the mission. But it with humility and self-sacrifice: “Then [after all the Jews of Shushan and I and my maids have fasted for three days and nights], I will go before the King even though it is forbidden, and if I shall perish, I shall perish.” How inspiring! How many leaders – especially those who did not even want the job – would show such courage?

What does any of this have to do with Eliot Spitzer? Lots of powerful people are arrogant – it’s not necessarily at odds with effective leadership. To take just one example, I was a fan of Rudy Giuliani (I say was because he really is a has-been now). He accomplished great things for New York City, yet he had an ego big enough to fill Yankee Stadium. The more arrogant one is, however, the greater the risk that the power he holds will start to play tricks on his mind. He will begin to feel invincible, untouchable, incapable of losing his mantle. And then – when he inevitably falls prey to his own greed, lust, or foolishness – the fall will be that much steeper.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Purim, Power, And Politics”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
British Prime Minister David Cameron
Britain Warns Citizens Against Travel to Turkey, Fearing ISIS Attacks
Latest Indepth Stories
Open Tent

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

Hamas on the Temple Mount - Jul 3, 2015

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

Community-Jewels-logo

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Brudner-072415-Rav-Aharon

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

J Street is the vanguard (Jewish face)in support of Obama’s Vienna Accords Nuclear Deal with Iran

“I hold the woman’s place over that of men in every fundamental aspect of public and private life.”

The US-UNRWA accord is another example of this White House, hostile to Israel, disregarding truth.

On the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’av, a reflection on the dangerous deal with Iran

The Kotel gained significance around 1550. Previously, many Jews prayed on the Temple Mount itself.

All Jews MUST stand together to oppose boycotts against Israel. So why does NIF & JCF support BDS?

This year it is hard to concentrate on anything but Iran building nuclear weapons to destroy Israel

Bibi failed the moment he transferred Israel’s Iran problem to the international arena.

I was entranced by Kaddish, a song of sorrow of the whole of Israel for the 1000s of years of exile

Like the Avos, we are invested with the mission to inspire humanity to become nobler and greater

Iran accords are worse than Munich; even Chamberlain would be shocked at what is transpiring again.

An unhappy person cannot become happy by acquiring items. Happiness has to come from somewhere else.

More Articles from Ziona Greenwald
Front-Page-071715

Some hard-core Israelis and would-be olim believe there is no life for the Jewish people outside of Israel, period.


Numbers permeate our culture,not advanced mathematics but snapshot stats that provoke snap judgments

The Lion’s Gate takes us from the dawn of the state in 1948, through intervening battles, to the lead-up to June 1967, and finally through the harrowing six days of fighting.

Even a foxhole Yid has to admit that antisemitism is on the upswing.

Geller, a mother of five who made aliyah from Monsey last year, offers a glimpse – with lots of photos – into her busy family life.

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.

It is ten o’clock in the morning. I am at a local park with my daughter. A number of children are climbing and sliding, imbibing the fresh air. In their orbit are a smaller number of women, some milling around on foot, others sitting on the benches conversing and minding strollers. Trailing my own child, I play a silent game: Who is a Mommy? Which, if any, of these women (who range from lovingly attentive to disturbingly disengaged) are the children’s mothers, and which are babysitters?

We asked several experienced mechanchim for their insights on how to shepherd children from their first “Modeh Ani” to the understanding that Hashem alone holds the key to every aspect of their existence. Here are the key principles they shared.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/purim-power-and-politics/2008/03/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: