Saturday, Mar. 20, 1943
Purim is, or should be, a joyous Jewish holiday. It celebrates the salvation of the Jews of ancient Persia from extermination. Esther, a courageous Jewish woman, saved her people from the Grand Vizier Haman who had persuaded King Ahaseuros of Persia to murder all the Jews in the kingdom. Festivities include children parading in costumes, lots of noisemakers, and retelling the story: A Persian Jew serving in the king’s court learns of the plot. He turns to his cousin Esther and persuades her to be offered into the king’s harem. Once there she captivates Ahasueros with her wit and beauty. When she reveals the plot and the fact that she, too, would be murdered by Haman’s decree, Ahasueros is ashamed and appalled. The tables are turned. Ahasueros hangs Haman and awards Mordecai the position of Grand Vizier. A happy ending for all but Haman.
Today, there isn’t just one villain but an entire nation determined to exterminate the Jews. And while King Ahasueros was clearly negligent about his kingdom’s affairs at first, Hitler was the very architect not just of the plan but of the process to destroy every Jew he could.
At least one infamous Nazi, Julius Streicher, saw the parallel. Committed to Hitler’s genocide and convicted of war crimes at Niuremberg, he shouted “Purim Fest, 1946” as he was led to his execution. The tables had been turned on him, as they had on Haman.
A sorrowful time to light the Sabbath candles.