2016-03-16 / Editorial

Echoes of Esther’s story resonate in the Middle East of modern days

Some 2,500 years ago, the Jewish people, exiled in the vast empire of Persia, faced a plot engineered by the king’s chief minister to annihilate them.

So sets up the plotline of the Megillat Esther. The Purim story, which will be recited, acted out and celebrated next week by Jews worldwide, has all the suspenseful elements of a best-selling adventure novel. Most relevant are the intriguing characters, starting with the beautiful queen of strong character who puts her life on the line for the Jewish people. Then there’s her cousin, a wise man able to outsmart the evil mastermind.

The narrative feels both historical and timeless, and therefore easy to relate to in modern times. It almost seems too coincidental that Iran, the nation most responsible for international terrorism today, occupies the land that once was Persia. Now that the Middle Eastern nation is flush with cash freed up by the historic nuclear deal, it is back to funding Palestinian terrorists in their quest to destroy the Jewish people. Moreover, the threats by Iran’s leaders of death to Israel and Jews have not diminished even as Iran has been welcomed back into the international community.

In the Megillah, it is Esther who saves our people, summoning the bravery to prove to the king that Haman was disloyal and wrong to target the Jews. In modern times, who or what will serve as our Esther? Will the influx of opportunities and money as a result of the lifting of sanctions send Iran away from extremism? Will the nations that came together for the deal unite to push Iran in the right direction?

To be sure, Purim is a fun holiday and the Megillah reading a chance to make a lot of noise (with groggers, of course), dress up and drink. But it also provides a message of hope. We come away with a sense that – just as Haman fell – other tyrants will not succeed. Let’s hope history repeats itself..

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