Dreaming of Moshiach

Friday, March 14, 2008

It’s the End of the Year as You Know It

The winter is coming to an end and with it the end of this year’s cycle (Nisan being “rishon hu la’chem”). We should therefore investigate what messages Purim and Zachor convey to us, stationed at the turn of the year, and how these messages elevate us to a higher level of this spiral life cycle.

We start with the Megillah itself, i.e., the parchment itself. It is rolled around itself in a spiral fashion revealing only but the prologue of the new and unknown Persian Empire. “Is this good for the Jews?” we ask as we feel familiarity creeping into our mind (elections in Russia and the United States). Does anyone know what this new year holds for us?

We then unroll the Megillah only to find out that nothing has changed. Festivals are festivals, anger and impatience will shed blood. Personal interests turn the wheels of economy and of the legal system and Jews still don’t seem to have any luck. Notice how the uprising of Haman strongly contrasts Mordechai HaYehudi’s saving of the king only a pasuk earlier.

Indifference comes to mind as the fitting attitude towards this world which doesn’t seem to go anywhere new or better. Indifference permits enjoying a good kosher meal in an un-kosher environment (Achashverosh’s feasts) and could also explain why no one is doing anything to stop Ester HaMalka, a'h (and probably many more Jewish girls) to be taken to the palace.

Unrolling a bit more crumbles it all down. Haman’s Pur seems to shatter this gray picture into pieces. Indifference is no more an option. Haman’s pride and anger don’t burst out but rather focus into an intentional, predetermined randomality. It is then that the world comes to an end! The world as we know it, as we expect it, the world we chose to be indifferent towards its quiet and creeping hints and messages. This mundane and seemingly grey world has come to an end and is shattered before our drowsy eyes. That is one thing that Haman and Starbuck’s coffee have in common. They sure do wake you up!

Yet a choice is at hand. You could choose the line:
“It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine”. This is the apathetic response of he who chooses to give up before the battle is over. It is the acceptance of mediocrity and skepticism as a way of life. It is Amalek striking the week (in faith) and lingering (in practical mitzvoth) but through them, penetrating all the way into the hearts of the impatient nation who will ask for Egel Ha’zahav, the Golden Calf (Sfat Emet).

On the other hand, you could choose to adhere to the battle cry of Mordechai HaYehudi, zs'. The cry for Teshuva and change. This approach realizes, both in mind and in action, that there is a One who is running the show and therefore fears not the incomprehensive circumstances such as Ester HaMalka’s enthronement (Ester Rabah), or the contrast of Haman’s uprising.

The Midrash draws lines of similarity between Mordechai HaYehudi and King David (zs'l) who were both alert and listening to Hashem’s mysterious running of the show. Mordechai HaYehudi is confident that Ester HaMalka being taken to the palace is for the purpose of a future salvation.
These two options, Mordechai HaYehudi’s attitude vs. Haman’s randomality, are the essence of our everlasting war with Amalek. Haman convinces the weak that life is grey and circumstantial and there’s nothing much to it, just like there’s no real meaning to the 13th of Adar,it’s just by chance. The end of the world, should it come, has neither meaning nor escape. Live long and whimper.

Mordechai HaYehudi, on the other hand, is the flag of belief in the deepest of darkness. Hope beyond despair for those who believe in the One. Nothing is left to chance and so nothing is out of place. Search for the meaning, the message and the mission. This belief is in itself the victory over Amalek and its venom/memory.

Taking in Mordechai HaYehudi’s approach is both difficult and crucial. It is the prerequisite Adar, Zachor and Purim demand to enable the coming of new year, a step closer to the final redemption that Nisan and Pesach will positively bring with.

Shabbat Shalom




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו