By Diane Peck

Purim begins sundown February 25, 2021. 

It is said; “In every generation, they rise up to exterminate us and every time, God saves us from their hands.”

Purim is a victory we are to remember every year. From generation to generation there have been many attempts at a Jewish genocide. The result is a strong bond of the Jewish people based on survival. The book of Esther is one such victory celebrated for the last 2,500 years. It is celebrated with great unreservedness, partying and wild funny parades in crazy costumes. 

As the story goes, in 587 BC, Jews were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Then the Persians conquered the Babylonians. It is here, in the Persian Empire, that the book of Esther takes place. 

Esther was a young Jewish lady who had been raised by her Uncle Mordechai after her parents were killed. She happened to be very beautiful and was chosen by the King to be the Queen of Persia. Her uncle Mordechai told her to kept her Jewish identity a secret.

Haman, who weaseled his way into being second in command to the Persian King, plots to kill all the Jews in the entire Empire. What would Queen Esther do?

It was dangerous to be a Jew and speak up for the Jewish people. When Esther heard about this plot she could have remained silent while her people were slaughtered. She must have been very afraid. Her life may not have changed if she said nothing about being a Jew. She may have still been the Queen. She may have even been able to ensure the protection of her uncle Mordechai. Or would she speak up for the rest of the Jewish people?

Mordechai told her that she had been placed in the position of such favor to the King “for such a time as this.” And that if she did not speak up, salvation would come from another place because God will save His people.

She understood that not to speak would be saying, “Go ahead and kill them.” She understood that the survival of her people was more important than her own life. So Esther spoke.

First, she told her uncle Mordicai to have the Jews throughout the Empire fast and pray for 3 days. The Jews in the Persian Empire had been in captivity for years. They may have thought God had left them all alone there, like He was hiding His face from them. If God does not seem to show Himself in desperate life threatening times, like being captives, what do you do?

Then Mordechai spoke up. He said, “Send the riders out!” Tell your brothers, your kinsmen, all over the land to fast and pray for 3 days with Queen Esther. And so they Fasted and prayed, corporately throughout the empire. Bonded together.

Esther made a plan during these days of fasting and prayer to gain the King’s favor.  Although terrified, she spoke up and revealed her Jewishness and asked the King to save her people. The King responded to the woman he loved. Haman was killed and the Jewish people were saved.

We should take note of this.  It may look like God is hiding His face from us.  Antisemitism is on the raise. Polarization, Corruption and violence are common.  We are for the most part, far from God as a country.  Times are coming when we will need to take a lesson from Esther and Mordechai. 

In todays world very few people are willing to give up their conveniences, not to mention risking their life for others.  So we can’t wonder too much- why very few people spoke up during the holocaust.

The Holocaust did not begin with gas chambers. It began with the indoctrination of individuals: a political and social swaying, a creating of a “we” and “they”. So “they” can blame all their troubles on the “other”. Eventually the “other” is the Jew; the bad people lower than themselves.  Small things that are not right, things done and said, may not seem so bad at the time, but it all adds up compounding into erroneous truth. 

Some world powers want the elimination of the Jewish State. Some people say that the genocide of the Jewish people should have happened already. To some people it is socially acceptable to express antisemitism in public.  

Mordechai told Esther, Don’t imagine that you can escape. And neither should we.

Mordechai watched out for dangers to his people. He was a watchman  A watchman stays in covenant with God, because God is our only and strong defense.  A watchman gives warning big and small.  We must be on the alert and take courage to say, “That is wrong”, in the small things, because the bigger things are coming. So when do we speak up?

As it is said, “In every generation, they rise up to exterminate us and every time, God saves us from their hands”.  So we must remember today people who took action in the middle of aggression and God saved them. 

Esther is our hero so as we read the story of Esther we say Ahhh when Esther’s name is mentioned and Boo for the evil Haman and Yay for Mordechai.  We dress up in costumes, have fun, and have parades celebrating victory. 

(The final two sentences below are from a wonderful story. I don’t know who the author is, but it is so fitting for today’s world I am including it. Thanks to the author.)

At a Purim parade somewhere in the world, in a large crowd, a father may gently look down at his little girl dressed in a flowing gown or a tutu with a tiara on her head and ask her sweetly, “Are you Queen Esther?”  

Who knows, she just may be.

May God’s blessings be yours! Happy Purim!