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Rabbi's Week in Review - 3/7/2023

03/07/2023 02:01:46 PM


Wrapping up another Purim celebration this week, a holiday I always approach with some sense of trepidation. I don’t enjoy putting on costumes (although our cats are always in costume, whether they want to or not). The raucous nature of the holiday has been somewhat jarring for me, and I can’t seem to get past the violence of chapter 9 in the Book of Esther.

I did find a new purpose this year in the holiday, however. We speak often of G-d’s role in our covenant of being a G-d of redemption. We will delve into this idea a lot during the Passover holiday, coming in a month’s time.  

Our G-d is nowhere mentioned in the Book of Esther — our Purim story is hidden as we read of Haman putting our survival at risk. This theme of G-d’s hiddenness is often presented in our Jewish history. But rather than see this as some sort of abandonment, we can see this as an opportunity to recalibrate the meaning we derive from our covenant with G-d.  

Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, in The Jewish Way, addresses what I would describe as post-Holocaust Jewish theology via a discussion of the Jewish holidays. For Purim, he describes our journey as an imperfect experience of redemption brought about by us, well-intended and courageous yet flawed human beings. Redemption is not just G-d’s job nor is it something we simply wait for as some perfect utopian messianic state.

The redemption Esther and, to a lesser extent, Mordecai (and I would argue Vashti) bring about is less than perfect, and we know from our own history that it does not last. Yet it provides a needed message: That we must continually engage in the work of redeeming our community and our world from whatever struggle, turmoil and evil that exist.

Let us move forward from this year’s Purim celebration to engage in the work of a more just world, and may it flow into Pesach, a holiday where we find our Jewish identity, our meaning and purpose to bring that better world to fruition. 

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784