In this week’s Parasha there is a clear hint to the holiday of Purim. In Parshat Tizaveh Moshe Rabbeinu is commanded to tell Aaron the High Priest to make special garments and ornaments called the bigdey kehunah. (Exodus 28:12) “The two stones placed on the shoulders of the High Priest, (each one symbolizing 6 tribes) will be a remembrance of the twelve tribes of Israel.” This imagery brings to mind the first station in the Land of Israel when Joshua entered the land straight to the shoulders of Israel- Shechem (literally- shoulder), to Har Gerizzim and Har Eval the two mountains that received six tribes on each. The Priests stood in the valley of Shechem and blessed the nation. This occurred in the tribal portion of Yosef who signifies unity, who gathered all the brothers to him. The ideal of achdut (unity) is what protected and blessed the Bnei Yisrael. This is what Haman noticed about the Jewish people and it disturbed him greatly. Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is one nation scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain in peace.” (Ether 3:8) As long as the Jewish nation remained united they were able to conquer the land and defeat their enemies. Later, as we read in the book of Judges, they began to assimilate and fall apart. They became exposed, endangered and most of all disillusioned. Their faith dropped. They lost their national and religious identity. This was a good time for the enemy to strike.
The first scene in the book of Ester has Achashverosh, the evil king that swears to annihilate Israel, dressed up in the bigdey kehunah (the very ones we read about in this parsha) at his banquet. This was a clear act of disrespect for the sanctity of the Priesthood, and the Jewish people, but worse, the text vividly describes how the Jews who participated in the merrymaking there, at this point of the game ate, drank, and danced the disco of peace, love and music for all… (Oh the illusion of assimilation!) There was one person that stood in holy chutzpah and did not bow down to Achashverosh and Haman – Mordechai the Jew, from the tribe of Binyamin. When Yaakov came to the Yabok on the Jordan after leaving Lavan’s house for once and for good, he met Esav, who he feared. The Torah describes how all the camps of his household bowed before Esav, one after the next. The only one not to bow before him was Binyamin. ( He was not born yet.)
Achmanijad was invited to speak at a famous University in New York. The liberal Jews said, “what the heck, let him talk”. Goldstone, a Jew, thinks he’s placating and discoing the dance of peace. But a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Purim is not even a story of banquets, partying, and masquerading. It is a scenario familiar to us all. Whether it’s a Haman, Pope Urban II in 1095, a Nazi, or a Chamas terrorist- they DO NOT differentiate if we are partying with the world or being actively Jewish. It is those that don’t bow down, like Mordechai Hayehudi, that have the holy chutzpah and wear the uniform of an idea, the ones that call for achdut (unity), the ones that go to fight for the truth- they are the heroes- They have internalized the message of Purim.
Shabbat Shalom, Leah Goldsmith