What Purim Teaches Us About Jewish Pride
3 weeks ago Noah Roffe 0
One of the many lessons that we learn from Purim is the importance of maintaining Jewish pride. The Purim story takes place during a time of exile and in an environment of anti-semitism. The Jewish people had recently been driven out of the land of Israel and were living under the authority of the Persian empire.
During this time, the Jewish nation was in a state of despair: besides for the insane amounts of hatred and disunity between each Jew, there was a general lack of Jewish pride. No one wanted to identify themselves as being a part of the “inferior” Jewish nation who had been exiled from their land. Anti-semitism was at an all-time high, and Jewish pride did not exist.
In fact, one of the main reasons why Achashverosh was so quick to accept the annihilation of the Jewish nation was because there was negativity and hatred among them. Additionally, Haman describes the Jews as being a nation without pride when convincing Achashverosh that the annihilation of the Jews is beneficial to him.
However, we learn that there was one person who did not give into the social pressure, or the anti-Semitism around him: Mordechai. Throughout the megillah we see examples of Mordechai displaying his Jewish pride and adhering to his beliefs. In fact, his own name – Mordechai the Jew – shows that he was publicly known as a Jew during this time.
When faced with adversity, Mordechai stayed true to his beliefs and remained a leader for all of Am Yisrael to look up to. When everyone else, including the other Jews, succumbed to pressure and bowed to Haman, Mordechai did not.
So it is pretty clear that Mordechai was a proud Jew – but what about Ester who concealed her Jewish identity?
The most accepted opinion on why Mordechai forced Ester to conceal her identity would be for the benefit of the Jewish nation. Mordechai knew that in order for Ester to save the Jewish people she had to reveal her identity at the right time; therefore, she had to conceal it until the point arrived. When she did reveal her identity it ended up saving the whole Jewish nation.
One reason to be proud of our Judaism is our perseverance. Throughout history we have experienced anti-Semitism all over the world- Arabia, Europe, Asia, Australia, Americas, and Africa, to name a few. Yet we are a thriving nation that is still existent despite of the constant hatred that we were/are faced with.
Another reason to be proud of our Judaism can be seen through the following pesukim:
|שְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם֒ כִּ֣י הִ֤וא חָכְמַתְכֶם֙ וּבִ֣ינַתְכֶ֔ם לְעֵינֵ֖י הָעַמִּ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַחֻקִּ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְאָמְר֗וּ רַ֚ק עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּֽה׃
Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.”
כִּ֚י מִי־ג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל אֲשֶׁר־ל֥וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים קְרֹבִ֣ים אֵלָ֑יו כַּיהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵ֔ינוּ בְּכָּל־קָרְאֵ֖נוּ אֵלָֽיו׃
For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand as is the LORD our God whenever we call upon Him?
We should be proud of our Judaism because we are not like all the other nations: we are closer to Hashem and the truth. Because of this, we are often judged on a higher level – both by Hashem and other nations. Jews are often singled out when we make mistakes. For example, if a Jew is caught money laundering the media will most of the time mention that he was Jewish. The Jewish nation is a moral, god-fearing nation, and hence we are special.
Last week was the annual CTeen shabbaton and the theme was transcending the tide. What does this mean? This means that Jews need to be proud of their Judaism because we are special. We should not just blend into the crowd and succumb to peer pressure! We should be like Mordechai the Jew, who understood the importance of maintaining Jewish pride.