Ilhan Omar, the Benjamins and Purim Today

Ilhan Omar, the Benjamins and Purim Today

Mar 13, 2019 | by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

The Purim story’s warning of enemies who seek our destruction assumes such powerful relevance today.

George Elliott is credited with saying, “History repeats itself.” Mark Twain sharply improved on it with his observation that “history doesn’t repeat itself – but it does rhyme.” No matter how much things may change, one constant always remains: the Hamans of the world, the Jew haters who seek “to destroy, to murder and to bring to an end all Jews, from young to old”, are somehow forever with us.

It was foretold in the Torah. In the first battle against Amalek, prototype of the anti-Semite throughout the ages, we are informed that although the Jews won the fight, Joshua only “weakened” our enemy. Amalek survived. He continues to plague us in many disguises – masks which have become part of Purim ritual to remind us that people often conceal their true intentions under the guise of noble goals even as they plot the genocide of our people.

What happened in Shushan is the story of our people throughout the ages. It isn’t just ancient Persia, the persecutions and the pogroms of the Middle Ages or even the Holocaust of the 20 th century. Tragically it is the story once again of our own times. Not only Persia/Iran but sophisticated France, cultured England, educated Europe and the rest of the “civilized world” are again proving the truth of Elie Wiesel’s insight that “the only thing we have learned from history is that we do not learn anything from history.”

As we recall the Purim story once again, its warning of enemies who seek our destruction assumes such powerful relevance even here in the United States today.

Let me remind you a little bit about the Jews in Persia of old. When King Achashverosh celebrated his ascent to the throne he threw a huge party to which all were invited. Jews were welcome guests. The drinking was in accord with people’s different faiths. In retrospect, a bill decrying hatred against any and all minority groups would almost certainly have passed in the Persian Congress. Yet it only took a short while for Haman to turn his strategy of genocide into national policy.

What was the key to Haman’s succ