The holiday of Purim can lead also to hatred and vengeance. When I was young and grew up in a Reform Jewish congregation, we never read the whole book of Esther, so I never got to the back of the book.
In today's world, holiday celebration is usually juxtaposed with whatever else is going on at the time. I couldn't help, but reflect on Purim in the context of technology, and I discovered that the Book of Esther is full of helpful tech tips!
I'm still awaiting word on what actually happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight #370. While there will be those who find the 'miraculous' story of the man who didn't get on that flight because of his Shomer Shabbos travel agent to be inspirational, I remain troubled by its message.
Congress needs to hear from us, to know that as American citizens we support our government's efforts to halt violence against women. It is imperative that we write, email, tweet, call or visit our members of Congress and urge them to sign on.
In the key scene in Megillas Esther, Mordechai zigs when he seemingly should have zagged, asking Esther a question instead of making a statement. What hidden message was he trying to send to her -- and to us?
Though we don't often speak of ourselves this way, we as American Jews live in the diaspora. We live outside the land of Israel. Though we may have risen to great heights outside of the Land of Israel, we are always, in some sense, strangers in a strange land.
The Maryland Commission, understanding the fundamental principles of the progress of civil rights in this country, reversed its position and stood with us, once again, in the Senate. We thank them and are proud to be a part of that tradition.
Growing up Jewish, one of the 15 million in a world of 7 billion people, is growing up feeling like a survivor of so many historical massacres, lucky to be alive and stay alive. Given our history it is not surprising that there would be a slight "paranoiac" tone to real or perceived threats.
One of the most beautiful books of the Bible, Esther is the only one that doesn't specifically refer to God. Esther's story defies moralizing, but perhaps one of its lessons is that God's hiddenness is not God's absence. Even in the face of death.
We end public readings of the Scroll of Esther with a blessing. "Blessed are you, God, who takes up our grievance, judges our claim and avenges the wrongs against us. You bring retribution on our enemies and vengeance on our foes." It's a tragedy when those we have in mind are other Jews.
Purim is the consummate Jewish carnival, and puppetry -- very much at home in the carnival -- is often considered a lowly art, if an art at all. So what can we make of lowly behavior, lowly art and inverted souls?
Purim is a radical embrace of the uncontrollable nature of life, celebrating the concealment of God through wearing masks, and the confusion of life through intoxication. With faith in the Divine, we go through chaos and transcend into something higher, into a place of Oneness.
We ought to never become oblivious to all that which life has to offer. And we ought to remember that the blessings of life emerge precisely when we learn to synchronize what we want from life with what life wants from us. Herein lies the secret to a life of purpose and meaningful achievements.