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Purim 2022

03/18/2022 09:42:21 AM

Mar18

Rabbi Hearshen

Today we celebrate the incredible holiday of Purim. It’s a day of joy and merriment but its origin is one of darkness and fear. On Purim each year, we recall a time when a mad man tried to destroy our people. He did so out of deep anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Both of these forces are still real in the world today. While the words “Never Again” were not coined by Mordecai and Esther, I do think it’s fair to say the spirit of the command to read the story of Purim each year points to such an intention. We’re to read the story every year so we’ll remember and step forward before it ever happens again.

In 1945 after the Shoah/Holocaust, the world took those words as marching orders. We were commanded to never allow such atrocious atrocities to ever happen again. Such was the mind of the world at that time, but what happened after the Holocaust? Cambodia, Rwanda and Yugoslavia are just a few to name. Each of these represent gross neglect for humanity and mass murder. The list is actually much greater than this limited one. In order for the words “Never Again” to have meaning, we have to actually stand up and forcibly stop genocide and abuse from happening. We must, in the words of Leviticus 19:16: “Not stand idly by the blood of your fellow.” We must see that “never again” didn’t mean only never again for the Jewish people. If we’re to be an אור לגוים, a light unto the nations, we have to lead. It’s not only our responsibility… it’s all of humanities, and all of humanity needs to equally commit themselves to stopping the murder and maiming of innocent people.

Much has been made of the misappropriation of Holocaust language during this conflict in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin has desecrated the sacred memories of Hitler’s victims by turning the world on its head and accusing his victims of being Nazis. He has gone further and claimed that his enemies, the West, were also Nazis. None of this is true and all of it’s an insulting assault on the memories of our loved ones. As Yad VaShem has also pointed out, the Ukrainians have at times found it convenient to employ language of the Holocaust in this conflict. That is wrong as well. But one thing is not wrong. When President Zelensky said we have to adhere to the watch words of “Never Again” he was 100% correct. The purpose of those sacred words was that after the Holocaust we must not allow the victims deaths to be 100% in vein. We all need to learn from history and prevent more atrocities from ever happening again. We all need to work as one civilization to safeguard our collective tomorrow by employing the lessons of yesterday. If we all truly believe in preventing genocide from happening again, then we all need to stand by that belief at all times.

Please click here to join our community in standing up on the right side of history and helping with relief work in Ukraine and Europe. Please join us in celebrating the Ukrainian people next Shabbat and help us raise more money to support them.

Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782