Rav Yisrael Krengel
Former Rosh Kollel Johannesburg (2002-3)
Purim is definitely one of the most enjoyable Jewish Holidays. People all ages can easily get into the spirit of partying and fun. This day, however, at the same time is laden with powerful messages and lessons that are very applicable to our present situation. One of these lessons is highlighted by the Sfat Emet (Rav Yehuda Aryeh Leib- “The Gerer Rebbe”-from the late 1800s)
He explained that when Haman reveals his plot to King Achashverosh to fill the Jews, he highlights their weakness. He points out that the Jews are “one nation scattered and separated among the nations” (Ester 3:8). The fact that they are scattered is understandable since that is the feature of exile. We can, however be scattered and still be unified . Haman realized that not only were we scattered but we were in fact separated- not united. He was confident, therefore, that he could destroy us.
Queen Ester was aware of this, when Mordechai turned to her to intervene, the first thing she tells him is to “gather all the Jews” in order to fast for 3 days (Ester 4:16 ). Only then can she turn to Achashverosh. What she was really saying is: only when we are unified can we overcome the enemy. The story ends with the Jews together as a force being victorious.
This is the reason why the mitzvoth of Purim like giving charity, sending food parcels to a friend, a joint meal were instituted. Every year we recreate this tremendous unity so we can in every generation understand its power.
This is the message today, with all the challenges facing the Jewish people. Yes, we are again in exile , scattered among the nations. However, we can be victorious if we today can achieve this powerful attribute of unity