Tuesday, March 22, 2016
And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword....And the Lord said unto Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and tell it unto the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven..the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."- Exodus 17:14
That's the way the Big Boys talked in the old days...when conversations with the Lord were commonplace and Amalek and his pals were freely labeled as the rabid, evil animals they were for picking off stragglers and attacking and killing Jews out of hand just for the pure sport and profit of it as the Jews moved through the desert after leaving Pharaoh's Egypt. No illusions there...you have to defeat evil, not negotiate with it. G-d said so,and He most likely knew what He was talking about. In any event, He'd been right enough times so that Moses, Aaron and Joshua weren't about to argue the point.They girded themselves, defeated Amalek and then proceeded on their way in peace.
Nowadays, the so called 'international community' makes a practice of shrugging off the murder of Jewish women and children as 'resistance' and screaming like wounded peahens about any efforts to defend them. For that matter, it seems they shrug off the rape and murder of their own after a few candlelight vigils, hashtags and platitudes about the latest 'tragedy.'
Some things never change, just the names of the players. Appeasing evil never ends well.
Note another thing about the above passage...it says there will be war with Amalek from generation to generation, and gives the Jews the responsibility of fighting in that war to defeat evil wherever it rears its ugly head at them.
The Jews commemorate one of those victories over a latter day manifestation of Amalek Wednesday night when they celebrate Purim, the victory of Queen Esther and Mordecai over the evil Haman, who successfully manipulated the King of Persia into signing on to the murder, enslavement and plunder of every Jew in Persia.
Yes, crazed, genocidal Persian maniacs are not a new situation for the Jews. Like I said, only the names of the players change.
The Megillah known as The Book of Esther which is read in every synagogue in the world at Purim relates how Queen Esther,wife of the Persian king initially reacted like a great many people do even today, by simply pretending that what was going on didn't concern her,and rationalizing it. However, she came to her senses and realized that a threat to her people was a threat to her, even in her place as high up and removed as the King's palace. Esther realized it wasn't enough to save herself. She knew she needed to save her people as well, or perish with them. She took the commandment to battle Amalek to heart and risked her life and position to defeat Haman and his evil allies and, along with her brother Mordecai, lead her people to victory.
Purim is preceded by a fast in honor of Esther, and then, it's party time. Many Jews observe the custom of sending a special basket of goodies to friends and family, the Megillah reading is a noisy and joyous affair especially loved by children, celebrations, noisemakers and costumes abound, and even a bit of liquid libation is quite common..along with some traditional special pastries known as humantashen, shaped like the three cornered hat Haman traditionally wore.
Think of it a sort of like the Jewish equivalent of carnival.Without the steel pan music and bare midriffs, but still lots of fun.
As far as I'm concerned, Purim may have special meaning for the Jews, but it ought to belong to the whole world. It's a joyous occasion celebrating the triumph of good over evil, as well as a lesson we badly need to take to heart, given what all of us face today from Amalek's modern descendants.
One more thing... I'll let my pal Ya'akov at Dry Bones let you in on a little something, the hidden joke of the whole holiday, something he catches perfectly with his usual wit: