9 Adar II 5779 – Vayikra

I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a happy Purim and I hope to see you at the many events that our Shul will be hosting this coming week! 

Purim gives us the opportunity to reflect on the dangers to Jewish existence today and how we overcame such threats in times gone by. Over two thousand years ago a genocidal regime in Persia (modern day Iran) was presided over by King Ahashverosh and the wicked Haman, his key adviser. Today, Iran still presents an existential threat to the Jewish State Israel and it has openly declared its intentions to annihilate the Jewish nation and empty that part of the world of its Jews. Then we have the rise in anti-semitic attacks taking place around the world, even here in Sydney with swastikas scrawled over artworks at Bondi Beach only two months ago. Sadly, there are many people who are consumed with hate and the world’s oldest form of hatred – anti-Semitism.

The Megillah recounts how the Jews of ancient Persia dealt with their predicament. At that time, many of the Persian Jews had assimilated completely as evidenced by the fact that a significant amount of Jews were invited and attended Ahashverosh’s large banquet in which they celebrated the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple. So Mordechai and Esther came up with a plan. Esther would use her charm to convince the King to change his edict while Mordechai would gather the Jews, and specifically the children, to pray and unite themselves around their history, heritage and beliefs. Further, they understood that only when the Jews are together, united as one, will they be a force that can’t be defeated.

History tends to repeat itself and today we are again facing similar threats. As Purim comes around, we must reflect on what we as communities are doing to face our threats. Do we have sufficient protection and pre-emptive strategies in place to face whatever may come our way? And internally, are we proud of who we are as Jews and are we united as communities and as a nation?

This Purim, let’s unite around the Megillah and listen to its messages that are as pertinent today as they have ever been. And let’s stand tall and proud as we celebrate together. After all, we are still here after all this time and we are not going anywhere. 

Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach!

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman