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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Megillat Esther’

Title: Purim and the Persian Empire: A Historical, Archaeological & Geographical Perspective

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011


Title: Purim and the Persian Empire: A Historical, Archaeological &


Geographical Perspective


Author: Yehuda Landy


Publisher: Feldheim


 


 


   Feldheim’s motto, “Torah Literature of Quality,” is well-suited to Purim and the Persian Empire: A Historical, Archaeological & Geographical Perspective. Written by Yeshivat Itri graduate Rabbi Yehuda Landy, this magnum opus is wonderfully prepared, informative and valuable to a wide range of readers. Landy teaches at Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim and is a certified tour guide in Israel. His credentials served his research efforts well.

 

   Full-color photographs of statues, glass objects d’art and tools used on a daily basis brick, royal seals among other treasures appear in the 144-page hardcover. Handsome lintels and cornices from royal residences, the pathway leading from the women’s dwelling to the royal palace, ancient maps, building plans and other artworks depicted in this text exemplify what is recorded in Sefer Ezra, Megillat Esther and Gemara.

 

   There’s more to savor. Vivid blues, golds and white in the glazed bricks of the Babylonian Ishtar Gate are as striking as the aerial view of reconstructed remains from King Achashveirosh’s palace, photographs of Daniel’s tomb and that of undamaged, breathtakingly beautiful jewelry from a Shushan woman’s royal grave. They give life to our mental images of what Esther and Mordechai heard, touched and saw in those precarious times.

 

   Rabbi Landy’s meticulous research appears in the prose surrounding the illustrations of his groundbreaking book. Succinct explanations of Persian life alongside supportive excerpts from Yalkut Shimoni, Midrash Abba Gurion and other sources support and illuminate passages of Megillat Esther appearing on successive pages.

 

   The author makes the momentous unfolding of Jewish history more vibrant by focusing on Esther 3:1. Landy notes on page 73 that “Archaeology has yet to yield any clues regarding the name Haman The name Hamedasa, however, does appear as the name of an officer in Xerxes’ court inscribed in Aramaic on green stone utensils found in the Persepolis treasury His earliest appearance is from the seventh year of the king’s reign, approximately the time that Haman was promoted to his top position.”

 

   Page 78 puts a bit of perspective on Esther’s palace life in Megillat Esther 4: ” in Bava Basra 4a, Hasach was none other than Daniel. At first, Hasach is mentioned in the Megilla as the one delivering messages between Esther and Mordechai, but his name does not appear at the end of their dialogue. Targum Sheini explains that Haman became aware of this venue of communication and killed Hasach.

 

   Based on these two sources, we can conclude that Daniel ended his life in Shushan. The tradition identifying the tomb of Daniel in Shushan can be traced back for nearly a millennium. As mentioned above, Binyamin of Tudela and the Kaftor vaFerach referred to the tomb of Daniel and identified the nearby village of Shush as the Biblical Shushan.”

 

   Pages 82 and 83 hold riveting accounts about Achashveirosh’s golden scepter plus the 50-cubit gallows that Haman ordered to be built in full view from his private property and that of the palace. A few words from a book reviewer cannot do justice to Landy’s masterful presentation about the personalities that summoned up those items. It would be a shame to spoil reader reactions by revealing here Rabbi Landy’s explanation as to why Achashveirosh raised taxes, lowered them, and then raised taxes again and how all that pertains to personal circumstances, world political history and to MegilLat Esther.

 

   Mordechai’s role in Megillat Esther is studied from historical and Judaic perspectives, too. One slice of his examined life concerns the wool and linen robe he received and wore in reward for preventing Achashveirosh’s assassination. On the surface, he seems to have worn shaatnez.

 

   Citing the Brisker Rav, Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus, Rashi (Niddah 61b) and Megillat Esther 15, Landy clarifies the confusing passage with: 1) a supportive photo of a Persepolis relief showing the Persian king dressed in royal garments and with 2) a halachic hair-splitter. Mordechai wore a “[woolen] purple tunic with white [linen] woven in the center” woven, but not spun, together.

 

   The cloak thus did not violate the wearing of shaatnez mi d’rabbanan. Mordechai was permitted to wear the garment for the sake of peace with the king. Landy’s prose continues to explain Mordechai’s headdress in a colorful and informative look at the importance of royal appearance. Supportive photographs illustrate the attention paid to royal appearances.

 

   The bibliography at the end of the book illustrates the meticulous research that Landy invested in his ground-breaking book. Printed on paper stock strong enough to support the clear type, excellent photographs and vivid pace of the information unfolding upon page after page, the book is a treasure. The extraordinarily insightful, well-designed and easy-to-read format of Purim and the Persian Empire suits many needs.

 

   Archaeologists, students in Batei Yakov and yeshivot, high school, kollel and university students can benefit from this academically competitive text. Academics will appreciate the scientific information presented in clear, lively language that holds attention spans. Halachic authorities will find satisfaction in the secular historical records that verify Jewish teachings about Purim. The entireMegillat Esther appears in side-by-side English and Hebrew at the back of the book, richer for the education of its readers and ready for fulfilling the requirement for public readings.

 

   Purim and the Persian Empire: A Historical, Archaeological & Geographical Perspective is a model for future publications of a simultaneously high academic and spiritual stature. The entire Jewish world would do well to add this book to community, personal and school bookshelves.

 

   Yocheved Golani is the author of E-book “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge”  (www.booklocker.com/books/4244.html).

Warning: Arrogance May Be Bad For Your Health

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I know Purim is over, but Megillat Esther is so rich with lessons on how people should live their lives – along with the consequences of not doing so – that I wish to share one of the many wisdoms that I have gleaned from reading it. I believe that the world wouldn’t be in the mess it is in – economically, socially and spiritually – if people would only open their eyes to the megillah’s masterful insights on how to behave.

 

A personality trait that often leads to really bad behavior imbues the personality of the story’s bad guy, Haman. Its diametric opposite is found in the characters of the story’s heroes, Esther and Mordechai. These traits are ga’avah and anivut.

 

I suppose that arrogance is the English word that comes closest to describing ga’avah. But this does not do it enough justice. It’s a state of mind whereby a person feels he is better than and superior to everyone, and is even above the rules. It is an attitude that enables a person to look down on other individuals – or even entire groups.  Ga’avah often manifests itself as elitism at best – where only certain people are, for example, allowed into a club, hotel or organization – or blatant racism at worst, which can lead to life-threatening oppression or genocide. It is a characteristic that is ruinous to all relationships and interactions, be it at home or in the workplace, in houses of worship, or in the halls of government.Sadly, there are individuals and groups in our own Orthodox communities who are afflicted with unwarranted ga’avah, which translates into looking down on a fellow Jew because he has, for example, less money, less power, or less “yichus.” It can also apply to things as superficial as having the wrong head covering.

 

Sometimes a ga’avadike person has really achieved quite a bit, and may be financially or socially ahead of the pack. Hence he truly feels “important.” I believe, though, that ga’avah is actually fueled by a subconscious lack of self-liking, the outcome of which is low self-esteem. Since no one likes to think that they are worthless, their bruised ego tries to artificially elevate itself by putting others down, minimizing those they see as an easy target. Unhappily, that target is often a spouse, child, classmate, neighbor, or student. All are at risk of being humiliated or denigrated – or even worse.

 

Looking down in distain, mocking, or making fun of someone is a manifestation of ga’avah. Another sign is a sense of entitlement. An unwavering belief that you deserve more than the next fellow by virtue of your superiority more often than not leads to unmitigated greed. I believe that the collapsing global economy and the near drowning of so many financial and corporate giants who did not sink because of the monetary life-buoys thrown to them by the government was caused by a rampant sense of entitlement and greed that led to caution being thrown to the wind. No doubt it is blatant ga’avah that makes these corporate executives feel that they deserve astronomical bonuses to the tune of millions of dollars – paid for by the “lesser” beings, namely the typical American taxpayer.

 

Conversely, anivut can be described as modesty as it pertains to one’s sense of self-achievement. People with this attribute are usually high achievers; they actually do have something to crow about. But they don’t, since they believe that their accomplishments are not a big deal. Unlike ga’avadike people, they do not toot their own horns or feel superior to anyone.

 

Esther definitely had bragging rights, for she was related to the royal house of Saul and was so incredibly beautiful that she was chosen from hundreds of other gorgeous women to be the king’s consort. Yet she was very unassuming. Her modesty and lack of arrogance even endeared her to Hegai, custodian of the harem, who took her under his wing and advised her.

 

Mordechai also was entitled to feel arrogant. After all he saved the king’s life, and was related to the queen. But he obviously did not brag about his importance, since no one knew these facts. The fact that the king asked if Mordechai was rewarded for saving him clearly shows that Mordechai did not bring it to his or anyone else’s attention after the incident happened – though he certainly deserved to have this publicized.

 

So here’s the life lesson offered by Megillat Esther: Ga‘avah is dangerous – not only to the targets of one’s arrogance but also to the one who exudes it. Haman’s extreme arrogance led to his total downfall. After telling his wife and friends about “the glory of his wealth” (5:11), how the king promoted and elevated him above the other officials, his many sons, and the invitation he received to the queen’s exclusive party, Haman seemingly had it all. Nonetheless, it is declared in 5:13, “all this means nothing to me because of the Jew, Mordechai.” Haman’s bruised ego and insatiable arrogance could not deal with the fact that this one person – out of thousands – would not bow down to him. Ultimately his ga’avah caused him to lose everything. And Esther’s and Mordechai’s anivut led to their elevation – and the saving of the Jewish people.

See What Happens When You Don’t Pay Attention?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

         I’m not quite ready yet to shut the door on Purim. Perhaps it’s my way of avoiding dealing with Pesach, and the physical and emotional effort that comes with it. Or perhaps I am reluctant to let go because I was born three days before Purim and it is the holiday I am most familiar with, although my first Purim was spent being “hatched” in an incubator reserved for preemies (which my twin brother and I were). I like to think that we made a quick exit just so we could enhance the simchah, allowing my mother to begin her Pesach cleaning with literally a load off her chest.

 

         At any rate, I learn something new each time I peruse Megillat Esther – and this time was no different. The beauty of our holy texts is that no matter how many times you read them, you gain a new insight.

 

         From reading the megillah, we all know that Haman “had it all,” but was unable to enjoy the impressive largess he was blessed with. In chapter six Haman gripes to his wife and friends/advisers that he has great wealth and lots of sons, and enjoys an elevated social and political status; even the queen seems infatuated with him. But he grumbles that it doesn’t mean a thing to him because of Mordechai, whose presence ruins it all for him. Haman’s attitude exemplifies the flip side of the passuk in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) that points out that one is rich due to his satisfaction with his lot in life. Therefore, he who isn’t content can be considered poor. With a disgruntled Haman unhappy with his “lot” (except for the one he later cast regarding the destruction of the Jews), his fame and fortune seemingly did not exist for him.

 

         In the midst of Haman’s whining, griping and complaining about how all that he has attained has no value, he clearly refers to his nemesis as Mordechai the Jew (5:13). In the next passuk his wife and cronies, who the megillah refers to as “those who love him,” tell him to build a gallows and ask the king for permission to hang Mordechai.

 

         However I noticed that later, when he describes to these very same people – his wife and “those who love him” – about the fiasco of ending up publicly honoring Mordechai in the city’s streets, they say to Haman that if Mordechai was a Jew, then whatever Haman plans against him will fail. In their view, Haman himself will fall!

 

         Thus my burning question: Did they not hear him when he clearly stated that he could not enjoy his fame and fortune because of Mordechai the Jew – right before they gave their good friend and soulmate the very bad advice regarding how to get rid of Mordechai? Weren’t they listening?

 

         Either Haman’s wife and close buddies had severe short-term memory loss, or they weren’t paying attention. Whatever the reason was for this failure to communicate, this lack of listening resulted in Haman’s downfall. As soon as Haman told them Mordechai was a Jew, they should have immediately warned him not to mess with him because it would backfire. But it was too late for them to share this bit of vital information with him.

 

         Here’s the valuable lesson for anybody in any kind of relationship to internalize: pay attention when someone is speaking to you – be it a spouse, child, colleague or service person. Hearing someone, without listening to what they are saying, can have grave consequences. Just ask Haman.

 

         While on the topic of Haman, the megillah mentions several times near its conclusion that Haman’s 10 sons were hanged. I have wondered about that since words are usually not wasted in our holy texts. The 10 sons are actually named (9:7-9), yet after receiving this information their hanging is repeated in verses 13 and 14.

 

         I believe that this is a warning to the physical and spiritual “sons” of Haman – past, present and future – whose main focus is the destruction of the Jewish people. The triumph of the Jews over their enemies as represented by Haman’s offspring was not a one-time fluke.

 

         In this case, the “named” sons of Haman were vanquished. But the repetition of Haman’s 10 sons being slain might very well represent future generations of Amalek.

 

         The message is clear: Try destroying the Jews and you will be destroyed!

Megillat Esther: The Graphic Novel By JT Waldman

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008


Megillat Esther by JT Waldman


The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, Pa. (2005)


 


Megillat Esther: The Graphic Novel


Select Original Pages


The Bronfman Center Gallery


7 E 10th Street, New York, NY


Mon-Thurs; 8 a.m.-10 p.m.


Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday; 9 a.m.-9 p.m.


Until March 24, 2008


 


 


JT Waldman’s Megillat Esther is brash, loud and groundbreaking. Created as a graphic novel, it is the first time the Megillah has been illustrated in this radical, late 20th-century art form. Nonetheless, the question remains; can a comic book express the complexity of the Book of Esther?

 

Megillot come in all shapes, sizes and kinds. There are cute little portable scrolls encased in finely wrought silver, large unadorned parchment scrolls piously unrolled to follow along on Purim eve, beautifully bound books with Hebrew and English text and commentaries, and cheap pamphlets handed out to the crowds who flock toshul once or twice a year. So too the illuminated megillah is seen in many different forms from purely decorative ornamental borders to finely entwined illustrations of the ancient tale, each character lovingly depicted; Esther is beautiful, Haman ugly and Ahashverous regal. There are a handful of illuminated megillot from the 18th century (Germany) and a growing number of contemporary examples, almost all depicting the events as occurring in their Persian historical context.

 

 



Esther, pg. 51


Megillat Esther by JT Waldman (2005)


The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia


 

 

Elaborate costumes abound and much of the pictorial motifs are couched in the ornate visual language of the Persian miniature, carefully surrounding blocks of sacred text.

Waldman’s megillah is radically different from all that came before. His visual model, the graphic novel, is uniquely capable of depicting multiple scenes that elapse through time on a single page, much like flipping though motion picture stills to give the appearance of real-life action. He utilizes this technique extensively, even while occasionally interrupting the narrative with interludes several pages long that form a kind of counter-commentary on the main story, asserting that the Book of Esther is but one part of “a greater saga” of the history of the Jewish people as found in the rest of Tanach.

 

These interludes (traditional and non-traditional commentaries) are mapped out in the frontispiece, a Tree of Abraham, which depicts the family tree of human life starting with Abraham as the trunk and finding Moshiach ben David and Moshiach ben Joseph along with Haman in the upper branches. Additionally it includes: Rachel, Leah; Judah and Joseph; Bezalel and Joshua; David and Saul; Esau, Eliphaz and Timna, all of whom appear somewhere in this megillah.

 

The story of Timna’s senseless rejection by the family of Abraham found in Sanhedrin 99b, her subsequent marriage to Esau’s son Eliphaz and giving birth to the vicious Amalek interrupts the megillah twice. It forms both a poignant prelude and achingly insightful interlude that probes the justification for Amalek’s (and hence Haman’s) genocidal hatred of the Jews. Waldman’s schema insists upon asking the intractable questions all of us try to avoid. Is the Jewish struggle for survival simply a matter of us verses them, or perhaps it is also a kind of internecine warfare?

 



Esther Denounces Haman, pg. 110


Megillat Esther by JT Waldman (2005)


The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia


 

 

Waldman worked four years on this megillah and produced a volume 172 pages long including extensive lists of rabbinic sources, bibliography and background on the various interludes. As his first illuminated Jewish text he felt that Megillat Esther was a perfect place to start because it is a uniquely Diaspora narrative, immediately accessible to a modern-day Diaspora Jew. He created his megillah essentially from scratch, starting only with the Hebrew text, struggling to hammer out his own translation as he illustrated verse by verse. While he was learning in a progressive liberal yeshiva in Israel he simultaneously immersed himself in Talmudic commentaries and a vast spectrum of art sources ranging from the frescos at Dura Europus, Persian Court Painting to 20th century illustrations of Ephraim Moshe Lilien.

 

The process is painstaking, starting with a simple drawing of each individual scene, followed by the much longer process of inking the image and the calligraphy of the Hebrew text that Waldman also created. In this megillah, the Hebrew never resides in well-behaved little boxes. Rather the text takes on an especially dynamic presence, wrapping around scenes, shaping and providing emphasis to the images and operating as an integral part of the dramatic graphic design. After that, the page is scanned and manipulated digitally, adding the English text, correcting minor flaws and adjusting contrast. The result is a breathtakingly complex, intense and at times, crowded set of images and text that leads us through the Megillah.

 

 



There Can Be No Rivalry On The Day!, pg. 35


Megillat Esther by JT Waldman (2005)


The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia


 

 

The artist was determined to explore what it means to be Jewish in a time when God is hidden. Megillat Esther provided that opportunity by Waldman’s emphasis that there be no pictorial distinction between Jew and non-Jew as is true in a pervasively assimilated society. As depicted where Mordechai refuses to bow to Haman he is seen with a shaved head and distinctly Persian-styled beard. Throughout there is no sense of a Jewish people suffering in exile, rather all in the kingdom are equally oppressed and subject to the whims of the buffoonish king. Even the Hebrew, yehudi, is translated throughout as ‘Judean’; technically correct but totally distancing the reader from what was a watershed moment in Jewish history. Waldman explains that in today’s Diaspora, all Jews are Judeans, i.e. exiles from Judah and Jerusalem.

 

Based on the tone and format of superhero comics, this graphic novel similarly treats the story of Esther in hyper-dramatic form. Vashti’s angry refusal to parade naked before the king is fleshed out with the queen stalking out of her bath shouting; “Tell him I have leprosy – or that I’ve grown a tail! I am not stable boy’s plaything!” This of course reflects the Midrash even as the cartoonish reaction of the eunuchs in nail-biting terror provides a perfect prelude to the king’s burning rage. The artist plays every scene for all its dramatic potential even introducing Hegai, the king’s eunuch and keeper of women as an effete Persian/Indian character straight out of a 1940s Hollywood stock production. All this leads to a somewhat camped up version of Esther, but considering our own wild costumes and outlandish traditions of the Purim spiel, not altogether inappropriate.

 

 



Mordechai Refuses to Bow to Haman, pg 61


Megillat Esther by JT Waldman (2005)


The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia


 

 

In what is the most dramatic moment of the book, the turning point in which the King’s sleepless night results in Mordechai’s triumph and Esther’s action to save her people, Waldman’s megillah literally is turned upside down on the page depicting the king’s nightmarish dreams. From here on the reader must read the captions from right to left and the turn the pages from left to right, exactly as one would a Hebrew book, thus fulfilling the dictum that on Purim everything is turned upside down.

 

In perhaps one of the most intriguing motifs running throughout the book, we are shown in an early interlude that “in a later Greek translation of the text, Mordechai has a dream, depicted here as a game show that determines who is the real Messiah,” a television face-off between Moshiach ben David and Moshiach ben Yosef. The show is interrupted by violence from the studio audience as they shout, “Esau will only fall by the hands of the sons of Rachel! Surely the youngest of the flock will drag them away! And we will ensure that reality. There can be no rivalry on the day!” As puzzling as this may initially be it starts to distill out in this formula; Haman is from Esau; Mordechai is from Benjamin son of Rachel as is Moshiach ben Yosef.

 

Waldman is convinced that underlying the megillah is the theme of sibling rivalry between all the descendants of Abraham. This is strikingly reflected in the very last interlude that we find placed in the tedious summation verses of Chapter 9. Suddenly a character appears shouting; “Stop!! The word has come to me!!” It is none other than Ezekiel proclaiming his vision in Chapter 37: 15-23 of the two sticks incised with the name of Joseph on one and Judah on the other. They are placed together and become one, proclaiming “and I will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land of the mountains of Yisrael. One king shall overlook them all. And they shall no more be two nations”

 

The one thing that is certain is that the graphic novel, especially as seen here, is eerily suited to exploring a complex and multifaceted narrative. By means of intertwining normative text and midrashic material, a restless imagination and visual invention JT Waldman has created a megillah that opens up the possibilities of meaning and consequences in the Book of Esther. The struggle to remain vigilant and defeat our enemies emerges with a parallel demand for the urgent need to reconcile our Jewish rivalries and perhaps, just perhaps, understand that we must reconcile with our enemies as well because they just might be family too.

 

Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com 

‘Poor-him (Purim)’ – Haman Should Have Listened To His Wife

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

      Smart husbands know that their wives as a rule are full of common sense and wisdom and if they want to be successful in life, they should listen to what their wife has to say – and follow it.

 

      No evidence of this truism is more obvious then in the Book Of Esther (Megillat Esther). Here there are two clear instances when a wife gives sage advice to her spouse: One follows it and saves himself and the entire Jewish nation from doom – and the other just goes off, gets drunk – and ruins his life.

 

      In the first instance, Mordechai HaYehudi, to his great horror, finds out the ruler of Persia has ordered the annihilation of the Jewish people. He quickly runs to his niece Esther – who many believe was also his wife – and asks her to intervene with the king – who she is married to against her will, making her, literally, a “captivating” wife. Esther had been forced to participate in the ancient Iranian version of “The Bachelor” and because she was a beautiful Jewish girl – and because it was God’s plan – she was chosen out of thousands of willing contenders.

 

      While initially reluctant to listen to Mordechai and go to the king – approaching him was strictly by invitation only – unwanted guests being ushered instead to their Maker – Esther agreed to proceed, but not before instructing Mordechai to tell the Jews to fast for three days and nights – which she herself did. He wisely listened to her and rallied the Jews into three days of repentance and supplication for heavenly salvation. And it worked. The Merciful Judge accepted their teshuva and revoked the heavenly decree against them – thereby invalidating the earthly one.

 

      Haman, a member of the nasty nation of Amalek, the timeless enemy of the Jewish people, chose not to listen to his significant other who warned him not mess around with Mordechai because any attempt was doomed to failure. Although it is true that Haman’s friends and wise guys told him the same thing, a look at the text of the megillah reveals that Zeresh, his wife, had the last word. “Then said his advisors and Zeresh, his wife: ‘If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the seed of the Jews, you will not be successful against him, but will surely collapse before him’” (Megillat Esther 6:13).

 

      This insightful declaration was in answer to Haman’s bitter rant about how he had just publicly honored the man he was planning to have hanged. Instead, the tables had been totally turned around and Haman had spent the day with the mortifying task of leading a regally dressed Mordechai, sitting on a royal steed, around the capital city of Shushan, and declaring at the top of his lungs how this was the way the king bestowed honor. It’s surprising Haman’s voice was still strong enough to narrate his woes later that evening.

 

      Haman did have an opportunity, after hearing his wife’s advice, and then whisked away by the king’s men to the private party Esther had planned for him and the king, to set things straight. He could have told the king that he regretted misleading him about the Jews – that in fact they were model citizens – and asking him to do what he legally could to void his command ordering their destruction. Instead he drank himself silly. It definitely was not good PR on his part to fall on Queen Esther’s couch – just as the king walked in after cooling off. The king had become all hot and bothered when Esther spilled the beans about her being slated to be butchered because she was a Jew, courtesy of Haman’s royal manipulation and brainwashing.

 

      As we all know, Haman, who fancied himself high and mighty – ended up high alright – swinging from a 50 cubit gallows – about 75 feet – that he had originally had custom built for Mordechai.

 

      There are three very valuable lessons that should be embraced by anyone reading Megillat Esther. The first and most important is to always have hope. No matter how bleak or horrific or seemingly unchangeable a situation – have faith that things can be turned around. The Jews of the Persian Empire were facing total annihilation. Though the king regretted his death decree, he insisted he could not revoke it – and the plight of the Jewish people seemed hopeless. However not only were they not killed, but were able to turn the tables on their would-be murderers and wipe them out instead. Whether you are hoping for a shidduch, despite being older or handicapped, or a baby after being told its impossible, or a cure when told there isn’t one – no matter how high the odds against you, have faith and hope and keep on trying – reversals of fortune do happen.

 

      The second is one that the haters of Israel should take to heart. The one Zeresh and her hubby’s cronies understood. If you are thinking of trying to destroy the Jewish people, do yourself a favor and forget about it – not only will the children of Yaacov prevail – but their enemies will fall before them.

 

      And the third lesson that can be construed – one that is sure to promote shalom bayis in every Jewish household is – listen to your wife. Chances are she’s right – even when she’s wrong.

Hating the Wrong Son Of Abraham

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

        Anyone who listens to the news or reads a newspaper on a regular basis is aware that in Iraq, suicide bombers blow themselves up in crowded marketplaces full of shoppers, outside mosques as worshippers are done praying, in areas where day workers gather looking for employment, in fields where youths are playing soccer and just about anywhere where there are crowds of people just going about their daily business.

 

         This past Sunday in Iraq a suicide bomber blew himself in the midst of mourners at a funeral, killing at least 10 people and injuring at least 18. It seems that in terms of not “crossing the line” the line does not exist for crazed Islamic fundamentalists – even though the men, women and children they are randomly butchering are fellow Muslims, not “infidel” Christians, Jews or Hindus. It seems that if you are not of the same sub-division of Islam, to wit Shiite or Sunni, then you deserve to die and there are no impediments, no rules of engagement to stop your annihilation.

 

         These demented fanatics have a lot of catching up to do. Even in the Dark Ages, many centuries ago, felons such as thieves or even murderers being chased by those intending to capture or kill them literally found sanctuary in churches. Those trying to capture them had to stop at the church’s doors and could not enter. And hardened criminals, such as those belonging to the Mafia had an unspoken agreement that the wives and children of their enemies were untouchable. Only adult men could be targeted.

 

        Obviously, if the Islamists were too getting rid of all Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, atheists, etc., they would soon be cutting each other’s throats. There is no room in their beliefs for any iota of diversity.

 

         Sadly there are many clueless people in the world who feel that Israel’s existence is the root cause of all this planet’s woes. Get rid of Israel/the Jews and the Islamic world will calm down and globally become model citizens. But I have a few nagging questions: When a train full of passengers in India who were commuting home from work during rush hour was blown up by suicide bombers killing and injuring hundreds of men, women and children – almost all of whom were Hindus – how did Israel’s existence influence this wanton carnage?

 

         Several years ago, in Afghanistan, two massive ancient Buddha statues in the central province of Bamiyan were destroyed by the Islamic Taliban militia. Its leader shrugged off international condemnation of his order to destroy the centuries old statues saying, “All we are breaking are stones” insisting, “Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be worshipped, not anyone or anything else.” Again, how does Israel’s existence factor in with this blatant destruction of religious icons cherished by millions?

 

         Hatred of Israel is fuelled by a paranoid fear that the Jews want to take over the world. Are those who believe in this “Zionist conspiracy” so blind that they can’t see that they are accusing the wrong descendants of Abraham? Jew-hatred is so strong that many countries, especially in Europe, would rather condemn and hamstring Israel in its fight for survival than look out for their future of their own citizens.

 

         There is global outrage when Moslem civilians are killed by Israeli rockets fired in defense, a reaction fostered and encouraged by the international media, especially in Europe, whose media outlets seem to be in a competition as to who can vilify the Israelis the most. Why is there barely a whisper when Israeli children have been blown up as they go to school or eat pizza? Talk about disproportionatism!

 

         I truly believe that Europe will rue the day they allowed the cancer to spread inside its belly while trying to undermine Israel – the “Jewish doctors” who were trying to save it. It very may well be that for some Western countries, the cancer in its bowels has spread too much and is terminal.

 

         Europe has a history of “biting the hand that feeds it.” Its peoples have greatly benefited from Jewish talent, ingenuity, resourcefulness and morality. The quality of life for mankind in general has been greatly enhanced by the Jews, a mere grain in the sands of humanity. If anything about the Jews in general and Israel in particular is “disproportionate” it’s the number of Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Economics, Literature, etc., Jews have won. Yet Europe has a thousand-year history of viciously abusing the Jews who gave so much to improve it.

 

         All Jew haters, in particular the Iranian president – the current virulently anti-Semite leader of Persia who is determined to destroy Israel – would do themselves a favor by picking up a Megillat Esther and heeding the warning uttered by the advisers and wife of a previous Jewish hating Persian politician. When her crestfallen husband, Haman, returned distressed and ashen-faced from his attempt to have the Jew Mordechai killed – indeed he ended up having to publicly honor him, Zeresh, his wife, exclaimed, “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”  (Megillat Esther 6:13).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/hating-the-wrong-son-of-abraham/2006/08/09/

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