The late Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik highlights four lessons that arise from Megillat Esther, that have contemporary relevance: 1. Man has satanic demons inside him, therefore don't trust man. The Jews of Persia had no reason that a new prime minister would seek to wipe them out. But Haman prevailed upon king Achashverosh to issue a decree to kill and to destroy every Jew man woman and child. Presumably the Jews of Persia trusted their environment, they had no reason to suspect that something terrible was about to come upon them. The emissaries went forth in haste to carry out the king's bidding. The edict had been announced in Shushan the capital. The King and Haman were dining, but the city of Shushan was cast into bewilderment. (Esther 3;15) Their bewilderment was due to the traditional naivety of the Jew who cannot believe that human beings can act like predatory beasts of the jungle. That was a traumatic discovery for the Jews of Persia. Over two thousand years later, Jews were once again making that traumatic discovery. In the run up to the Holocaust, Jews in Germany and even in concentration camps, discounted rumours of mass killings, until it was too late. In communist Russia, many Jews continued to believe in Stalin, despite his going to bring peace to the Middle East. The arms with which our enemies were supplied have been turned against the Israelis, to deadly effect.

2. Jews are particularly vulnerable. Human monsters, although they are an enemy to all mankind, somehow specialise in the hatred of the Jews. Hitler had nationalist ambitions. But he could have sought the same territorial expansion, without his war against the Jews. Communism was a political and economic ideology, but again somehow it had to be directed against the Jews. Again, in our day radical Islamists have a fight against the whole of the west - but who do they single out? The Jews. Somehow we are always the target. Why is that so? There is no answer. It is an absurd situation which has accompanied the Jew since the dawn of history. Our Sages suggested a link between the word hatred sin'ah, and Sinai, the mountain on which the Torah was given. We got the Torah, that brought jealousy and hatred to us. The very presence of Mordechai irrationally arouses the animal in Haman. Haman has been awarded great honour by the king, he is the highest dignitary in the country. But when Mordechai one Jew refuses to be humbled. All of the honour that he receives is worth nothing to him, Vechol zeh eynenu shoveh li (Esther 5;13) An uncontrollable hostility is directed against us.

3. All Jews share a common destiny. It did not matter what sort of Jew you were in Persia; committed or assimilated. With mezuzah on the door or without. Haman's decree applied to all Jews. At Achashverosh's banquet, thousands of assimilated Jews, drank and participated; they felt secure. And yet when Achashverosh's royal decree was promulgated, like in Nazi Germany, all Jews were subject to a common destiny. No one was exempted. The common destiny of suffering serves to unite our people. Achashverosh took off his ring and gave it to Haman, signifying the formal transfer of authority. That removal of the ring, was more effective, says the Talmud, in uniting the Jewish people in a return to G-d and teshuva, than all the warnings given by 48 prophets who had warned the people about the need to return to G-d and to Judaism. Jews become unified when under threat. They feel a sense of common bond. Remember Trafalgar Square?

4. The fourth lesson: G-d does not abandon His people. G-d rescues His people, and in particular, He does so by the means of human messengers who are sent to do his work. Mordechai and Esther, strategically placed - the one as courtier, the other as queen - in the very royal circle, sent as G-d's messengers frustrate Haman's strategy; to do G-d's work, and to rescue the Jews. As in every situation, redemption comes to the Jewish people, in the form of human messengers, who are agents sent to do his work. Moshe in Egypt. The Messiah at the final redemption will be an actual personality, and not just a general messianic era.

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