Today is Purim, a strange holiday in Jewish tradition as we are told to get drunk, dress up and act crazy. Plus, throughout the entire book of Esther, G-d who usually features heavily in our texts, never appears. So what is Purim all about?
This year upon reading the Megillah, I was struck by something in particular. Every major character in this story, goes out of his or her way to fight for what he or she believes in, even when it is inconvenient, dangerous or unlikely. This is true not only for our heroes and heroines, but also for the villains too.
Vashti loses her exalted place in society and is excommunicated after she stands up for the independent sexual rights of women.
Mordechai sacrifices (or at least risks) his stature in the court by not bowing down to Haman. He also sacrifices his closest relative to the throne so that she will be in a position to help her people.
Hadas sacrifices her name, becoming Ishtar (or Esther). She sacrifices her autonomy to serve as her people’s representative in the court, and she risks her life and status to come before the King to fight to save her people.
Even Haman is constantly manipulating the King and using his position to get his anti-Jewish decree made and to get the treatment he believes he deserves as an ‘honoured man by the King.’
Throughout the story people are constantly advocating, manipulating, lobbying, positioning, etc., to be able to achieve something, usually for the greater good. God is not mentioned, even once. No one prays, except maybe during the fast of Esther, which also doubled as a public hunger strike, because Purim stands as a reminder we have to do it ourselves.
This Purim and for the rest of Adar, focus on an issue facing your community, society or the planet. Stand up, strive and sacrifice to help address a specific concern and to promote what you believe is a good alternative.