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Welcoming Our Newest Member: D'var Torah for Rosh Chodesh Adar

03/02/2022 12:03:35 PM


Rabbi Rudin

The Secret of Purim, the Call from the Darkness

As we approach the Holiday of Purim we are obligated to once again read and study the account of how the Jewish people was not only saved from genocide but the Second Temple was built, restoring our national homeland and independence.  That is the true backstory of the Megillah and why it matters so much now.   The Megillah, in terms of history, is the last story of the Bible.  No more splitting seas and fiery mountains where G-d descends to speak to humanity face to face.  In the Megillah, like now, G-d's Presence is hidden.  

It requires some incredible human act of courage and faith to pull aside the curtain for a fleeting moment and let the Light shine through.  That is what Queen Esther achieved.  Her greatness is revealed in two heroic acts:

1. Selflessly and courageously approaching the King unbidden, revealing her Jewish identity and pleading on behalf of her people. 

2. Demanding that the Jewish community in Shushan and throughout the Persian Empire unify in love and humility and face the obstacles to their survival and to rebuilding their spiritual center in Jerusalem. 

The secret of the rebuilding of the Temple reveals to us that  those the very same actions of faith can activate the latent forces of spiritual renewal in the world today.  Selfless courage and a direct appeal to the conscience based on that courage.

Those two superpowers are evident in the person of Volodymir Zelensky, President of the Ukraine and, I hope, the newest honorary member of Adath Shalom.  The Ukrainian Embassy Website is down and undoubtedly every resource at their disposal is dedicated to helping their citizens as they resist the immoral and illegal invasion.  But when the smoke clears, G-d willing, and the national security and integrity of Ukraine is restored and the Ukrainian people have the peace they so desperately deserve, among the emails and voicemail backup they will find one from the Rabbi of a small congregation in New Jersey, inviting Mr. Zelensky honorary membership.

Mr. Zelensky, a writer, comedian and producer turned politician, has selflessly and courageously remained at his post serving his nation despite being targeted by one of the world's largest and most ruthless military powers.  What's more, he has called upon all of humanity in general, and his people, the Jewish people in particular to not remain silent.  As the Babi Yar Memorial, where tens of thousands of Jews and others were slaughtered by the Nazi monsters, comes under bombardment by the Russian advance, we cannot but feel in the depths of our soul the need to cry out, to stand up to tyranny and violence and to stand by those who stand in the breach.  The Queen Esther example: selfless faith and sacrifice and calling for unity and advocacy, shines again from the bunker in Kyiv where Mr. Zelensky calls out to the world.  

We must be there for innocents.  The history of Ukraine features all of the horrors of Anti-Semitism.  From pogroms to the blood libel to massacres and collaboration with the Nazis, it is all there.  But we must also support those who turn away from that dark history, who reach out in solidarity with the Jewish people, who make anti-Semitism illegal and who have elected a Jew as their president.  The Ukrainian Jewish community of today was built on centuries of peace, tolerance and even being embraced as an important part of Ukrainian nationhood for centuries.  Yiddish was even recognized as one of Ukraine's State languages and Yiddish appeared on the Ukrainian currency. 

Will we be silent now?  Queen Esther called upon us, her people, to come together, to fast, to pray and to join in the struggle for survival and rebirth.  As Volodymir stands by his nation and fellow Ukrainian citizens and calls to his ancient people to do the same, will we not respond?  Let us all join together with the JDC, Jewish Agency, Chabad in the Ukraine and all of the other Jewish organizations helping the Jewish and general communities.  I have also reached out via the Interfaith Council to the Ukrainian Community here in Morris County to offer help and to stand in solidarity. 

I hope that the day may come when Volodymir may accept our offer of honorary membership, join us at Kiddush, drink a L'chaim with us and share his Torah of courage, faith and strength.  Until then, we read about his spiritual forbear, Esther bat Avichail, tell the story, respond to the call and, G-d willing, are part of the Light that shines through their example to illuminate the world. 

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784