PURIM LESSONS 5778
Rabbi Susan Elkodsi – Newsday -February 2018
Purim, on Wednesday and Thursday, commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people from annihilation in ancient Persia. This Jewish holiday’s traditions are joyous and include reading the megillah, or the scroll of Esther, acts of charity and child-oriented carnivals. Jewish clergy discuss the serious lessons for children amid Purim’s festivity.
There are many things children can learn from celebrating and learning about Purim, but one of the most important lessons is the importance of standing up for their beliefs and for what is right.
In The Scroll of Esther, which tells the story of Purim, people are empowered to act — especially the women. Queen Vashti refused to “display her beauty” before the King’s drunken friends. Queen Esther could easily have distanced herself from her Jewish heritage and people, but she put her fears and personal concerns aside and approached King Ahasuerus to expose Haman’s plot to kill the Jews.
While God’s presence in the story is certainly evident, God’s name is never mentioned. People are empowered to act; they don’t wait for a miracle from God to save the day. While it often seems as though evil is rewarded and “nice guys finish last,” Purim gives us hope that good will ultimately prevails if people are willing to take responsibility, speak up and step up.
Haman, who was the king’s second-in-command, allowed his ego and emotions to get the better of him and ended up hanging on the gallows he had built for Esther’s uncle Mordechai, who had angered him by refusing to bow down before him. Haman’s evil plot to destroy the Jews was foiled and Mordechai, who had earlier saved the king’s life when he overheard a plot by two of the palace guards, was elevated in his place.
Being empowered means finding the courage to act and displaying that courage in the face of adversity.