Purim reminds us that we live in an olam hafuch, an upside-down world. To wit, in the book of Esther Mordecai rises to the position occupied by Haman, while Haman hangs from the gallows built for Mordecai, and the doom decreed for the Persian Jews is visited upon their enemies.
On Purim we embody this upside-down world. Men dressing as women! Students teasing their teachers! Wild revelry prevailing in usually dignified places.
And after all the Purim revelry, we return to post-Purim normalcy. That which was briefly upside-down returns to right-side up.
Unfortunately, one aspect of our world is perpetually hafuch, turned around and upside down. It is the persistence of anti-Semitism. Disturbing news stories continue unabated – Nazi-themed drinking fames among American high school students, a parade float with heinous anti-Semitic imagery in Belgium, anti-Semitic canards rehashed by a member of Congress, French Jewry still experiencing frequent attacks on synagogues and individuals. And more.
I do not want to overstate the problem, but it would be foolish to ignore it. How do we respond?
First, we should support financiallythose organizations – Jewish and not – that are on the front lines of the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred. Those who work in this field are motivated not by financial gain but by a sincere desire to create a society in which citizens of the world feel safe and can thrive.
Second, we ought to live our Jewish lives fully, openly and proudly. And so, let us all come together to celebrate Purim. Come to our Purimshpiel, to Purimpalooza, and to Purim evening and morning services. Celebrate this holiday with a happy heart, knowing that at the heart of our tradition is a belief that justice and joy will prevail, and that dark days will be followed by bright days.
Purim’s coming! Let’s have some fun!
Happy Purim, Happy Spring, Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill