Confession: I check my Facebook wall on a regular basis. I’m amazed by the workings of Facebook, totally fixed in algorithm formulas attentively watching my likes and shares and probably even the amount of time I may look at a post. Facebook has figured out what I want to see. (The Big brother predicted so many years ago.)I tend to like to view the political right and Jewish/Israeli posts. So when I opened it today, I was a bit surprised to see what and who Facebook thought I would agree with. No, it was not radical left or anti-Israel statements. It was the Right-leaning political views. The extreme right.
Whoa! I certainly don’t want anyone to think I have somehow a connection to these groups that support total freedom of gun purchasing (without vetting), anti- Muslim to the degree they don’t believe in their right to exist, and many other hate stances. The next time on Facebook they fixed up their mistake.
The left extreme is also anti-Israel (pro-BDS), pro-Palestinian, anti-Trump to the point of thinking of impeaching him (as if that was at all possible) and pro-Obama in spite of his betraying Israel. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the middle left is not so far from these extreme left stances that maybe I beginning to wonder if I even know what the extreme left is.
The reality is the world is very polarized. And the Jews are the most polarized since we sit on both sides of the spectrum. Many of us sit on the extreme left maybe a bit less of us (me included) are much closer to the right stance; tradition in Jewish history.
That is what made Purim such a miracle. The Jews were invited to the party of the century given a personal invitation from the King, of Persia and 127 provinces, King Ahasuerus. The party wasn’t just an evening affair but went on and on for 180 days. The King promised his constituents that the food would be kosher to their liking (probably brought in magshim from the Shushan neighborhood) and a Jewish steward to pour them their own kosher wine with dishes they would feel comfortable to eat – (stolen from our first Temple).
The debate among the Jews was pronounced. Should they go or not? Was it a political liability not to at least show their faces? A great uproar was heard and only Rav Mordechai from the tribe of Binyamin was adamantly against it. Why? Because the party was basically celebrating the falsity of the 70-year prophecy of the return of the 2nd Temple (which Ahasuerus had counted wrong). The others saw that it would cause too much aggravation and insult to the king; best to be avoided.
Mordechai made it even worse and won’t bow down to the 2nd man in charge, Haman. More material for those who hate(d) us to chew on.
And those who were against antagonizing these anti-Semites were proven correct. Haman decided to kill all the Jews and has no problem selling to the King, who is quite happy to make any deal with Haman. He accepts the money for the destruction of the Jews and gives the evil Jew-hater the signet of the ring as proof of his approval.
Yet, that very act is what turns all the Jews around and accept Rav Mordechai as their leader and accept his logic. And the miracle is that. Mordechai was accepted by all the Jews, an unheard of event since the times of Moshe. And like Moshe, Mordechai was able to turn the tables around.
Not by lifting his arms (like Moses) or advising Queen Ester how to approach the King, but by the prayers, fasting, and teshuva of the people. He even tells her “Who knows if you have not been put in the palace for this very purpose? If you are silent now, help will come to the Jews from some other place — and you will perish!” And this is why the Megillah goes out of its way of calling Mordechai ‘ish Yehudi’ the ‘man of the Yehudim, the Jews. He was not from the tribe of Yehudah. It is the first time all the Jews are categorized as one group (and not each from its own tribe) and the man from Binyamin (like King Shaul) became the Jewish leader – the ish Yehudi!
It is not the actual act of Esther that saved the Jewish people, but her accepting Mordechai’s as her Rav and acting selflessly.
Yet the Megillah is named after Esther and not Mordechai (though he does get a lot of praise with a slight condemnation on his too much involvement with the Klal and not learning enough). It was Esther who saved the Jewish people. And it was a miracle that the Jewish people accepted Mordechai and repented for their improper behavior of going to the party many years ago.
When Jews can be united in accepting Torah and our sages – our salvation will be in hand.