Our Sages teach us that in the time of the Mashiach, all holiday observance will cease except for Purim, which will continue to be celebrated. According to Mishlei 9, this edict was drawn from a sentence in the Megillah (9:28) that states “The memory of Purim will never cease from among the generations.” What is learned from this is that during the time of Mashiach, G-d’s presence will shine in all its strength and glory. This presence will be so bright that we will no longer require the lights provided by our holidays to perceive the guiding hand of G-d in historical events. The Midrash explains that the light of G-dliness will be seven times more powerful than the light of the sun. The holidays’ glow will pale when exposed to the sheen of redemption. Purim is the only exception, because the Jewish people were able to recognize the hand of G-d’s guiding providence when His hand was concealed; so it remains their eternal possession, and all attempts to destroy the Jewish people from then on will be null and void.
As we retell the story of Purim in the Megillah, it is quite natural to compare ancient Persia to its modern-day counterpart Iran, illustrating how history seems to repeat itself, especially in that part of the world. In our day and age, especially poignant this time of year, Iran’s mullahs, who are virulent anti-Semites, are calling for the Jewish state’s destruction. Instead of just declaring a day to kill all Jews militarily, as in the story, Iran now has a nuclear arsenal that can wipe out the entire region in a matter of minutes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, “The threats by the modern Persian state of Iran to annihilate Israel are frighteningly reminiscent of the murderous plot by the Persian viceroy Haman, whose plan to kill all Jews was foiled by the Persian Queen Esther, a Jew.” Netanyahu continued by saying that “Iran’s threats could translate into horrific violence due to the nuclear deal. Today, the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology.”
Just last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif submitted his resignation, reportedly over infighting about Iran’s foreign policy and the results of the 2015 nuclear deal that Zarif brokered, which was widely criticized by Israel. Iran’s economy is in shambles due to sanctions that the US has imposed on the country. The Iranian leadership will try to compensate for this by blaming Israel and fomenting their hatred on Jews.
As it has been described, “Both current Iranian politicians and Haman are characterized not only by their meaningless hatred, but by their compulsive animosity. The real Amalekite is absorbed and consumed with hatred of Israel that nourishes him 24 hours a day – when he is awake and in his dreams. A pure Amalekite is possessed by a crazed and deep hated of Israel. It’s his spirit, his heart’s desire, his soul, and his passion exclusively.”
The Iranians have just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, when the Ayatollah Khomeini took power. For the Iranian people, the euphoria that they displayed then has dissipated. Instead of expecting a democratic type of government, they are living under Islamic tyranny. The people’s lives are appreciably worse off.
It is ironic that the person who sounded the clarion call against Iran to save Israel’s Jewish population, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, is facing right before Purim indictments on bribery and fraud. People will say that the timing is just a coincidence. But I learned that there is no such thing as coincidences in Jewish history. It is too soon to know how Bibi will deal with these charges, but with Hashem’s help all that Bibi did to save Israel from nuclear Iran will be counted in his favor. We can only hope that in the z’chus of the season of Purim’s miracles, Netanyahu’s situation will remedy itself.
In the meantime, we must be encouraged by the story of Purim and see Hashem’s greatness, even if it is concealed. We must have faith that our people will once again be spared and our enemies will be vanquished.
Purim is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. The Jews were saved and their would-be murderer Haman was not. Queen Esther and Mordechai stood up for their Jewish community and prevailed. Today, too, it is incumbent on us to stand together against our modern-day Hamans who threaten Israel with annihilation while they are busy arming themselves (thanks to a feckless US policy) with nuclear capabilities. We can take comfort in the Purim story and, with Hashem’s blessings, we will be able to enjoy it to the fullest.
As we celebrate Purim this year, let’s make sure that we not only sound our groggers to stifle Haman, but for the modern day Hamans, as well.
Cynthia Zalisky is the Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org