Many centuries the 14th day of the month of Adar was a day of gladness and feasting, a holiday, and of sending portions to one another (Esther 9:19). This year the month of Adar is one of sadness.
23 Adar I, 5782 Russia invaded Ukraine.
For many, there are no villages left over to dwell in. Their houses are ruins.
This Adar Aleph, Russia invaded Ukraine. In Adar 5780, coronavirus shut down the world, and it has been sickening and killing people ever since. In other Adars, other terrible things happened.
Still, the Jewish People chose to do acts of rejoicing. On the evening of March 16, 2022 we had the beginning of the celebration of Jews’ salvation from slaughter by the Persian empire thanks to the bravery of Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai. Though this year it was not such a time for the most fun-filled, action-packed day of the Jewish year. Continuing through Thursday, March 17 (extending through Friday in Jerusalem) several of us instead of celebrating joyously, with respect to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, had a time of extra reflection on the possible pleasures in life that are so often cruelly destroyed by people.
Like the previous year, the mitzvahs of Purim could only be safely performed in private. We did not think it appropriate this year to dress up and asked our children to pray with us for those who are now living in horrible conditions.
This year, it was even more crucial to think about the unity of our people. Like Haman tried to kill us all, today we see the King of the North (Gog) going frantic telling lies all the time. More than ever we remind ourselves how the Scriptures speak about the “king of the south” made up of Sheba and Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish and the young lions. We have been anxiously waiting the last few weeks to see how far this man from the North will go. More than once, we have seen how he is tripping over an entire nation and is trying to get other countries to join him or Ukraine, in the struggle he started against Ukraine, so that he could attack all these countries and thus advance further south to eventually attack Israel as well, as the prophecies describe the enemy of God’s final acts of strength.
These days therefore we looked at Britain and the other English-speaking nations (her offspring, the young lions) – US, Canada, Australia etc. as Tarshish, whilst we notice the Gulf Arab states as Sheba and Dedan, south of Israel, rubbing their hands together because that war will benefit their oil business.
In a way today we can feel already the impact of this war in the north in our regions, with an increase in prices for fuel, energy and food. And this is still only the beginning. We’re all in danger together, so even when we celebrate not as such, this year, we feel that we are united together too.
Normally we would give money or food to at least two needy people around us, during the daylight hours of Purim, March 17. This year we took as the neediest people, the Ukrainians. Also, in the coming days we still can fulfil the mitzvah to take care of the needy. There is the synagogue collecting money for sending humanitarian aid to the conflict zone as well for the reception of Ukrainian refugees.
We may not forget that we not only on Purim day should place special emphasis on caring for the less fortunate. In this time of crisis, our help to others is of great importance, and therefore we should be standing ready in the coming days, to help those who fled the horror of that useless war.
As with the other mitzvahs of Purim, even small children should fulfil this mitzvah. We should not be afraid to tell them what is going on at the moment in this world, where the unbeliever and adversary of God is showing his teeth. It is good that our children keep Mishloach Manot, so that they too learn to share with others and come to see that there are people who are lesser off than they. They also should learn to resist the allure of material comfort over helping those far away from us. This year it might well be that send packages to Ukraine would be too late to reach the addressed person, but then we still can hope somebody over there shall be able to make good use of it.
Even though we were soberer this year, we still took the opportunity to invite a guest in complete safety. Now even more than ever we should allow the words of Torah spread and let the message go out to prepare for the coming Passover. Let us go out of our houses to be a watchman and malachei or messengers to warn people for times coming.
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