Politics & Purim

By Rabbi Dovid Markel

In various places, the Lubavitcher Rebbe discusses the mistake of the Jewish People during the Purim story and what they did to repair it.

The Talmud (Megilla 12a) recounts that the sin of the Jewish people was that they enjoyed Achashveiroshe’s party.

The Rebbe explains that the mistake was not that they went – as they could not turn down the governmental invitation – but that they enjoyed.

If one reflects on the situation of the Jewish People at the time, it would seem that they were the most politically connected. Esther was queen, and Mordechai a minister of the court.

Indeed, their mistake was that instead of relying on the G-d, they believed that their political connections will save them in the event of any potential disaster.

However, in truth Israel is like a lamb that is surrounded by 70 wolves that is only saved due to our great shepherd – G-d himself.

G-d wanted them to realize this, so (Megilla 12a) “He pretended to exterminate them.” Only when they realized that they must throw their burden unto G-d, were they saved from the decree.

When Mordechai told Esther about the decree, her reaction was to tell Mordechai that the she and the Jewish People should fast for three consecutive days before she enters Achashveirosh’s chambers for an audience.

Rationally this made no sense. Her entire clout was due to her beauty and going into the chambers without an invitation was a capital offense.

One can imagine that fasting for an extended period of time would surely diminish some of her charm and beauty. It seemed then, that fasting would have a detrimental effect on her mission.

Yet Esther was not deterred; she knew that the salvation would come from G-d, not mere physical charm and political clout.

Indeed, the Talmud (Megilla 15a) says on the verse (Eshter 5:1) “on the third day, that Esther clothed herself regally,” that the Divine Presence enwrapped her, and gave her an extra measure of charm.

When the Jewish People repaired their blunder, G-d came to their rescue, showing them that throughout the entire story their had been Divine providence and order.

In our times we face similar situations; many are either exuberant about the current state of political affairs or extremely frightened about them. Some see us as living in the times of Esther, and others at the time of Haman.

The response of many is to obsess over politics, post incessantly and be completely mentally absorbed with the minutiae of the happening in Washington.

This is though is a mistake, we should realize that ultimately it is G-d that is running the show. Sure, we still need an Esther and a Mordechai to influence the government, but our main hope should be in G-d.

When we fulfill the beginning of the verse (Tehillim 55:23) “Cast your burden on G-d,” the end of the verse, “and He will bear you; He shall never allow a righteous man to falter,” will be fulfilled as well.

L’chaim & a freilichen Purim!

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