Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Purim – Recognizing Miracles

We are now in the moon of Adar (the 12th moon) where our joy is increased. But we are living in the galut (dispersion, exile) among the very anti-Semitic goy who try and make life for us Jews very difficult. Here in South Africa, our government is instituting a boycott of any Israeli products, persecuting us Jews and having many marches against us because they claim that we live according to an apartheid regime and that we are villains and evil. But is that really true?

But do we live by apartheid? And if so what kind of apartheid are we talking about?  If we are evil then how is this evil defined?  And then, would such opinions not depend on others point of view?  Looking at a torah life as the only way of life and survival may indeed seem stupid or evil from the outside. The Torah makes it very clear that Yisra’el is a kadosh nation. The question is, what does it mean to be kadosh?

Kadosh simply means, “separate” or, “set apart.” The Christian bible translates this Hebrew word, “kadosh” as “holy.” HASHEM made it very clear that we are not allowed to be like the other nations. Are we not to follow the commands and precepts found in the Torah, no matter where we are? To do this, we must separate ourselves in a torah life and culture, not so? Anti-Apartheid (Anti-Kadosh) literally means, “forced conversion,” which is a very wicked act. It is exactly what happened during the Spanish Inquisition where many Jews we killed. Anti-Kadosh, in this sense, is Anti-Semitic.

Now I need to make it very clear that the kadosh'ness' of the Jews is in no way the same as that of the other apartheid regimes, like what happened in South Africa. Us Jews do not hate or mistreat people from other nations or cultures. In fact, Although we are one of the smallest nations in the world, we are the second largest financial, humanitarian aid contributor among all nations. We have a deep love for people and live to be a light to the world bringing morality and righteousness, no matter where we may be.

Unfortunately, because we have not stayed kadosh, and most times, not been able to do so, there is a great amount of Jews that have assimilated into other cultures and religions. This has always been viewed as a great crisis among religious Jews. We have seen throughout history that Jews have been forced to assimilate and convert to other cultures and religions or face the penalty of being kicked out of the community, country or even killed. This is still happening at this moment all around the world to some degree or another, whether it be terrorist attacks, pressure from the governments, boycotts or simple hate speech against us.

So how are we to increase our joy? We could even be justified in being angry at the injustice and clear violation of our human and religious rights that our own governments show us. But no, we are not angry at all. In fact, we rejoice and really do increase our joy. But how is this even possible? There is one simple word that explains how it is possible, “Emuna.”

Through all this tribulation that we are going through, it is fitting that Purim is being celebrated now. Purim is the remembrance and celebration of the great miracles and protection that the Almighty grants us, His nation, Yisra’el. We read the story Esther on this day, which has so many lessons for us.

The story of Esther is about how we were exiled and were living under the Persian King. One of the King’s generals, Hamman, was an evil man and convinced the King to make a decree that all the Jews must be killed because they live by a different set of laws and separate themselves from the people among whom they live (the Persians). So the Jews were to be destroyed because they were living in apartheid.
But HASHEM had His hand over the situation at every single moment. HASHEM caused this to happen, even though it seemed bad. And As Jews we so many times feel that HASHEM has departed from us, and in worldly terms we may even have every right to moan about being persecuted. But this is not what we do. Such events caused us to fast and repent and turn to HASHEM for their salvation. Everything happened as it should have and at the right moments too. In the end, the evil Hamman and his sons were hanged on the very gallows that Hamman built for the hanging of the righteous Jew called Mordechai. At the end we Jews were not only saved then, we also gained all the respect of the King, something we did not have before.

Emuna teaches that there is only One being that is in control of everything and that everything that happens is from Him. And that everything that He does is for the good, even if it may seem bad.

The Name of the Almighty does not appear even once in the entire book of Esther. In fact it is the only book in the entire Tanakh that does not contain the Name at all. This teaches us, among other things too, that even though it seems that HASHEM has hidden Himself from us, that He is still actually in control and watching over us.

The ultimate goal in life is “tikkun” (soul correction) and everything that happens to us happens for the sake of tikkun, because HASHEM loves us.

That is why us Jews can be happy and Joyful at all times, no matter what our circumstances are at any time. We know that everything is for the good.

May we all continue to do teshuva (repentance) and grow closer to HASHEM, by the study and obedience to His Torah so that we may continue to joyfully say: BARUCH HASHEM no matter what our circumstance. To be kadosh (set-apart) is to be satisfied with being different, as we prefer to be what HASHEM wants us to be, no matter where we are or what the circumstances.
Purim Same'ach

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