web analytics
August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 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
Brooklyn's "Vote No on the Nuclear Deal" rally organizers singing Ani Ma'amim. (L to R) Cantor Shlomie Rabin, Councilmember David Greenfield, Jeffrey Davis (back row), Kalman Yager (back row), Chanina Sperlin, State Sen. Jesse Hamilton, Zaki Tamir, Yaacov Berhman, Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Aug. 26, 2015.
In Show of Unity, Bklyn Pols Rally Against Iran Deal
Latest Indepth Stories
Proud Members of Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

Israel Football Game in Jerusalem; Alex Swieca, Quarterback

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Koran teaches the concept of "Tiqqiya," strategic lying

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

Rabbi Akiva and Layala Males with Israeli soldiers.

Yashar Lachayal’s mission is to learn what IDF soldiers’ need and get it to them when they need it.

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

Mr. Nadler’s support for the deal is a naked political gift to a president who has defied logic in his quest to reinvent international affairs according to his ideological inclinations.

In practical terms, the proclamation surely makes a compelling argument:

BDS activists are not shy about discriminating against Israelis simply because they are Israelis –

A Federal Ct Judge ordered the PA to post JUST $10 million due to interfering letter from State Dept

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: