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Parashat P’kudei ~ Purim is Coming!

The Iron Swords War: How We Are All Affected!

B’Yachad N’Natzeach/Together We Shall Be Victorious!

On Tuesday morning, Ellen and I attended a profoundly moving and truly painful session at Gratz College presented by Esther Marcus and Gal Horev, two survivors of October 7th Massacre.  It was overwhelmingly difficult and simultaneously inspiring to listen to the accounts of these two residents of Kibbutzim that were overrun by Hamas terrorists and murderers on October 7th.  We all know the catastrophe that was perpetrated by Hamas terrorists resulting in the deaths of over 1250 men, women, and children, along with sexual brutalities and mutilation of Jews, on the day that is now recognized as the worst day of Jewish murder since the Holocaust. 

These two heroic Israeli citizens presented moment by moment accounts of where they were at exactly when the terrorists attacked their Kibbutzim. They showed videos taken by security cameras of the Hamas murderers as they entered the main gates of their settlements and ruthlessly proceeded to kill Israelis. 

The events of this day and the subsequent war in Gaza is now called the Iron Swords War. Esther is from London, and she has lived in Israel for many years.  She is the mother of four children and the grandmother of several.  Her husband, who survived this horrible day, died two months later from a heart attack that occurred as he was cleaning the livestock area of their Kibbutz. Esther is a trauma therapist, engaged in providing aide to the victims of the terror attack. 

Gal served as a counselor to the IDF commander, aiding reserve soldiers as they fought the terrorists who stormed the kibbutzim. He told harrowing stories of entering shelters along the highway and rescuing wounded IDF female soldiers who were covered with dead bodies of both soldiers and civilians killed in cold blood in these shelters. 

They told us that, “the survival of the Jewish people is in our DNA.”

They stated that there is universal agreement in Israel that, “the job must be done. There is NO POSSIBILITY that Hamas will remain!” They commented about their loss of trust in the IDF.

The “joyous” holiday of Purim is fast approaching, and we must ask how we can maintain the levity associated with the celebration of the Purim holiday. Jews the world over will celebrate Purim on Saturday evening, March 23, and Sunday, March 24. There are a few painful connections between Purim and the search for peace during this terrible time. 

We read about Purim in Megillat Esther, in the “Ketuvim/Writings” section of the Bible that is read in its entirety on Purim. The traditional song, Hag Purim, teaches us that “the holiday of Purim is a great holiday for the Jews!” We wear masks, spin the groggers to blot out the name of the evil Haman when it is read in the Megillat Esther, sing songs, and dance together.  But we must remember that the evil Haman attempted to murder the Jewish people! He was thwarted by the Jewish Queen Esther and her Uncle Mordechai! He is the second dastardly villain in the Bible, preceded by Amalek, whose efforts at Jewish genocide were described in the Torah, because he hated Jews! Haman is the spiritual ancestor of Hitler and his Nazi henchmen, who succeeded in killing six million Jews in cold blood, may their names be blotted out.  The word “Hamas” is found in the Scroll of Esther.  This book describes the Purim story taking place in the ancient kingdom of Persia, the exact location of contemporary Iran, the home of contemporary haters of Jews and sworn enemies of the State of Israel.

Nevertheless, Purim will be here soon, and we should review a few basic facts about Purim. 

A few years ago, I compiled a “Jeopardy” style collection of questions about Purim.  You can use these questions at home: first give the answers, then wait for the questions!

TEN – Chapters in the Megillah

TEN-Sons of Haman

VASHTI- The King’s first wife

MORDECHAI- The Jewish uncle of Queen Esther

CHAPTER 3 – The first mention of Haman

CHAPTER 9 – The last mention of Haman

HADASSAH – Queen Esther’s Hebrew name


BIGTAN AND TERESH – Spies collaborating to kill the King

By reaffirming our observance of Purim and our loyalty to our Jewish traditions and identity, we go a long way toward defeating those evil people who want to destroy Jews, including you and me. The current slogan of the Israelis is “B’yahad N’natzeiach/Together we shall be victorious!” When Esther and Gal told us about this statement, they pointed to the audience in Gratz College room as proof of our collective assertion of Jewish identity.  Let us continue to grow as knowledgeable Jews and as passionate Zionists.

Hag Purim Sameach/Happy and Joyous Purim!