In yet another inexplicable, some would say divine, turn of events, the future of Israel is once again weighing in the balance, and just in time for Purim.
Israel’s general election just weeks away, Hamas rockets are flying over Tel Aviv, antisemitism has been unleashed around the world, there is mayhem in Gaza and on the Temple Mount, Hezbollah is digging in on the northern border and terror attacks are on the rise. The timing of these events and more coinciding with Purim cannot be ignored. Who can forget Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with former-US President Barack Obama on Purim during the Iran nuclear crisis, when he placed into the hands of the American leader a magnificent, hand-written manuscript of the Scroll of Esther? With Mordechai-like clarity, Netanyahu declared, “Mr. President, we must stop Iran, before they destroy us!”
For the Jewish prime minister, Israel is facing a modern-day Haman. Netanyahu has described Haman as “a Persian antisemite who tried to annihilate the Jewish people.” Netanyahu explained that “in every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people. In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.”
Again today, Netanyahu’s message rings clear. Purim reminds us that we must take action to save ourselves. It is not enough to just allow events to take their course and wait for divine intervention, though it come.
Purim is the assurance that the divine hand will turn the tables on Israel’s enemies, when someone is willing to stand up for what is right. The hero of Esther’s Scroll is not fate or consequence, though the story unfolds around a series of humorous coincidences. It is about a young girl, who with good sense, a woman’s intuition, and feminine persuasion manages to convince a king to listen to her plea. It is about the “stroke of luck” that happens when a faithful uncle risks everything to stand up for what he believes, and without hesitation warns his people of impending danger.
Purim is our annual reminder that Jews have enemies dedicated to our destruction, and that we can, and must, do something about it. When the chips are down, and it seems like the cards are stacked against us, we do not sit around and brood. The celebration of Purim shakes us out of apathy. It calls us to do whatever we can to turn the tables on our enemy, to foil our foe by exploiting his own foolishness.
Netanyahu has stood alone against Iran. He is not afraid to declare that Israel is a Jewish state, for the Jewish people, and more than most, he will resist US President Donald Trump’s pending “peace plan,” if necessary, to protect our country. Watching Netanyahu is like reading the pages of the Purim story, the only biblical text without God’s name in it. That’s an indication that the message of this story is that human initiative is required, even if divine assistance is implied. Netanyahu is reading Esther and Mordechai’s story correctly when he calls for active Israeli self-defense against our nation’s existential threats.
Long ago, the die was cast. There is no diplomatic solution to Israel’s security in the Middle East. Israel cannot risk her survival with wishful thinking. The only question remaining is whether the US, or any other nation in the world, will cast their lot with our people. When Bibi sent that Scroll of Esther to the US president, he could have highlighted Esther’s warning with a yellow marker: “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place… And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
PHOTO: Netanyahu addressing congregants at the Great Synagoge in Jerusalem on Purim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)