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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Korban’

The Capacity to Change

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Fundamental to the idea of the korban, which we begin reading about this week, is the power to change oneself. After all the term korban comes from the word karov, meaning coming closer to God. Yet change is not easily accomplished. On its most basic level, the process involves a belief that one has the capacity to transform.

This capacity is implicit in the Purim story. Note how Queen Esther undergoes a fundamental metamorphosis in chapter four of the megillah.

When told that Mordechai was in sackcloth, she wonders why. At this point, Esther does not even know the Jewish people had been threatened. She had become so insulated in the palace of the king that she did not feel the plight of her fellow Jew. Furthermore, when asked by Mordechai to intercede on behalf of the Jewish people, she refuses, claiming that the rules of the palace did not allow her to come before the king.

Yet when Mordechai rebukes her, declaring that she too would not be able to escape the evil decree, perhaps the most powerful moment of the megillah takes place. Esther courageously declares that she would come before the king, even if it meant she would perish.

Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah. Once she becomes queen, she adopts the Persian name Esther. This name, which means “hidden,” reminds us that at the outset of her rulership she abides by Mordechai’s request that she hide her Jewish identity. But as the narrative in chapter four reveals, she returns to her roots. At a key moment she is ready to speak out powerfully on behalf of her people. Esther provides an important example of how change is possible.

Rabbi David Silber notes that one of the smallest words found in the megillah, dat, is used often and teaches an important lesson about Purim. Dat means law. In Persia, the law was immutable, it could never change. And so when Vashti refused to come before the king, Achashveirosh asks, “according to the law (dat) what shall be done to Queen Vashti?” And when it is decided that a new queen would be selected, the megillah once again uses the term dat – the law of selection. And when Haman accuses the Jews of not keeping the king’s laws, again the word dat is used. Indeed, the decree that the Jews be killed is also referred to as dat.

Even when told of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews, Achashveirosh declares that he cannot change the prior decree that the Jews be killed. The law must remain. All Achashveirosh can do is allow the introduction of a new dat, a new law that stands in contradiction to but cannot take the place of the first.

Rabbi Silber points out that not coincidentally, when Esther agreed to come before Achashveirosh, she declares, “I will go to the king contrary to the law. Esther had been so transformed that she is prepared to defy the immutable law of Persia.

Turks Praise Israel’s Apology

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

It is unpleasant when two long-friendly countries behave like enemies. Many have been uneasy seeing Israel and Turkey growing distant, even if only in the political arena. Friendship, love, trust and affinity are most valued universally, so I would like my Israeli friends to know that we, the Turkish nation, cherish our friendship with the Israelis and thus appreciate the prime minister’s apology as a virtuous act, and we are excited to leave this regrettable incident behind and to be able to move forward.

Although as a general principle I am against any preconditions for peace and friendship—since true friendship is unconditional—this apology was still important for the Turkish people, we heard an affirmation that Israel cares about Turkey. And we see this move as a dignifying act, a gesture that will glorify Israel in the eyes of many.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did the right thing in the right manner and with the right words. We take this as a direct message to the Turkish nation rather than to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan alone.

However, there will be people who would take this as an opportunity to create ugly propaganda against Israel. I condemn the comments and news trying to devalue this virtuous act by Israel. Loveless people are free to issue their comments, however they only reflect their inner world by expressing their hostility and by looking at everything in a negative manner rather than thinking with wisdom and compassion. If we look at things through the prism of rage and allow ourselves to hold on to grudges, no one could ever be friendly with anyone else. What happened in the past stays in the past; if one does not evaluate things with this mentality, no country could ever be friends with any other.

So let us look at the future rather than getting hung up on the past, because we are both living in an unstable region and we need unity now more than ever. I believe Israel and Turkey’s alliance will definitely help to bring stability to the region because unity and unconditional friendship are a strong deterrent against terrorism and radicalism, and against all those who promote violence and hatred. Let this be a message to all the countries in the region that we are moving forward and we—as Turkey and Israel—will not let any provocation, propaganda or mischief destroy peace and friendship in the region.

On the other hand, I humbly ask from my fellow Turks to be kind and unconditionally compassionate, and to act with dignity, and disallow the negativity of those who seem to follow a policy of promoting tension. The friendship of Israel and Turkey is crucial, and we will spread this friendship to the whole region together. Therefore, let us see things positively and use this opportunity in the best way. Israel made a move that is precious to the Turkish people, and we surely hold it dear.

Additionally, preserving peace for a few days is very easy, but to preserve peace over a lifetime is very hard to do. To preserve peace until the very end, patience and persistence are needed. Upholding peace, brotherhood and love unconditionally may seem hard or progress slowly, but it never comes to a deadlock as long as we continue to make efforts persistently and determinedly.

On this occasion I also would like to share my Passover wishes with my Jewish friends around the world. In these day, we, along with our Jewish friends, remember the exodus of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) from the oppression of the Pharaoh, and their rescue and their amazing journey with God’s help. We pray for the blessings of God upon all His servants. May God bring the Days of Mashiach (Yemot HaMashiach) soon; the times that we can altogether make Korban (sacrifice) in peace and joy in the Holy Land.

“[God said:] And remember, We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: They set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons and let your women-folk live; therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord. And remember We divided the sea for you and saved you and drowned Pharaoh’s people within your very sight. And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence you took the calf (for worship), and you did grievous wrong. Even then We did forgive you; there was a chance for you to be grateful. And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (Between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright.” (Qur’an, 2:49-53)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/turks-praise-israels-apology/2013/03/24/

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