Purim Reflection - Thursday, March 8

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 10:32pm -- Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Rabbi Shalom Lewis

Yes, I know the Hamantashen are stale and the costumes back in the closet but permit me a post Purim reflection that I had never noticed nor thought of before.

Perhaps the best-known ritual of this rollicking festival is the reading of Megillat Esther and the drowning out of Haman’s name every time it is chanted. We wave the graggers with vigor, stomp our feet and hiss with every mention of this nasty villain. But after listening in the evening and then in the morning, I observed a trend of diminishing energy in the assault on this Jew hating knave.

When his name first appears in chapter three, young and old explode with a two-chapter suppressed chorus of pandemonium. The sanctuary rocks with jeers and pounding and swinging noise makers. We are all pumped up for a just and lethal crusade against Haman and his accomplices. And then, as we go from chapter to chapter, there is a fizzle. A fading. A perfunctory cranking of the gragger that gradually replaces the initial enthusiasm. As we approach chapter ten, we run out of steam. The shrill is gone. My thoughts, however, go beyond the ritual jeering of a murderous rogue.  Malevolence is a part of our world. It is a ruthless enemy that is found in the innocent classroom, on distant battlefields and everywhere in between.  Haman did not perish on the gallows of Shushan. We cannot allow a patient enemy to exhaust us as we approach chapter ten.

We must be relentless in fixing what is broken at home and far away. Fatigue is not an option. Retreat is not a choice. I get a sense that too often in our moral quest we despair and collapse because results don’t come easy. We become dispirited, our gragger falls silent. In making our world a better place, let us realize it is a noble adventure but not an easy one. And, until all that is wrong is righted, we must continue to swing the gragger with righteous passion to the end of the Megillah.

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