A Purim Message


There is a lot to be afraid of in the world today.  It seems every day we pick up a newspaper (uh…at least those of us who still read paper papers) to see that people are under attack simply for being who they are.  Christians are rounded up as minority citizens, Muslim women are attacked because of their head coverings; Jews in Paris and Copenhagen were killed because they were Jews.  “Zionist”, a word I know to mean one who cares about the homeland of the Jewish people, is often used as a term of denigration toward Jewish people.  So much fear!  Is this just a bad dream?

Tonight when we gather to read from the Book of Esther, (7:30, JRC) we’ll be reminded that this is an old story.   We’ll read the Megillah and noisily shout down Haman’s name because he wanted to kill all the Jewish people just because one of us wouldn’t subserviently bow before him. “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other peoples in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people…and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them.”  (Ch 3:8)  Because some people are “different”, not like “us”, they have no right to live.  Even in our country, some would create laws that limit the rights of immigrants, impose religious standards in public places, and create distinctions between “them” and “us”.  Fear and suspicion of the “other” is a horrific part of too many lives.

When we read the Megillah, with all appropriate silliness, we can also remember that we live in a world where fear and hatred come too close.  What can we do about that?  What action can one person take?  Maimonides answers this question: be kind to your neighbor, give to charity, add happiness to another’s life.  I think part of our joy on Purim is from sharing gifts of hamentaschen and sweets (did you check your su box today?)  And even more joy will come from some act of kindness that you can do for a total stranger today.  I know horrible acts of hatred will not suddenly cease.  But when you share a smile, make your friend laugh, and confidently celebrate who you are, these acts of worth diminish the fear that seems to hover close to us.

Purim ushers in the hope of spring…even in rural New England!  Be happy—it’s Purim!

Purim Sameyach,

Cantor Bob