Our Children are Our Future Guarantors
As our children and grandchildren are exposed constantly to immoral behavior in our media, Jewish education has always focused on the spiritual and humanitarian respect, including proper language, among people. It is this strong conscious from generation to generation that has helped us triumph over those who have tried to undermine our existence.
(Article by Aish HaTora organization).
From: Pamela in Portland, OR
I seem to remember some story about school children saving the day for Mordechai against Haman. Could you refresh my memory and explain what that was all about. I teach at a Jewish school and think my kids could relate to the involvement of children in the Purim story. Thanks in advance.”
It seems you are referring to the Midrash which relates that after the letters decreeing the destruction of the Jews were sealed and sent in Achashverosh’s name, Haman and his cohorts rejoiced. They then saw Mordechai approach three school children, each of whom he asked to recite a verse he’d learned (children, according to the Talmud, can be a source of prophetic information even after the destruction of the Temple and termination of true prophecy).
The first child replied by quoting “Have no fear of sudden dread, or of the calamity of the wicked when it comes” (Prov. 3:25). The second answered, “Take counsel [you enemies of the Jews] and it shall be nullified, speak a word and it does not transpire, for G-d is with us” (Is. 8:10). The third child cited a verse in which G-d says, “Until old age I am…I shall endure and I shall save” (Is. 46:4). After hearing these verses, Mordechai became very happy and began to laugh.
When Haman saw that Mordechai, who should have been mourning because of the decree, was actually jumping for joy, he became irate. “What have these children told you that has made you so happy?” Mordechai replied, “They have revealed to me that we need not fear your evil counsel which you have contrived against us because G-d will rescue us from your evil designs.” The enraged Haman retorted, “I’ll show you. I shall start the slaughter with none other than these very children.”
Of course, Haman’s declaration against the children was never executed – he was. But what was the meaning of this exchange with the children and in what way did the verses they quoted prophetically reveal G-d’s intention to save the Jews?
Mordechai realized that these three verses allude to the three wars that Amalek ( a ancient viscous nation, but with descendants who harbor the same sentiments) waged against Israel whom G-d delivered, and would deliver, from their archenemy. The first time Amalek attacked Israel they did so suddenly after the Jews departed from slavery in Egypt: “And they happened upon you while you were on your way” (Deut. 25:18). The verse quoted by the first child applies to this war, for it states: “Have no fear of sudden dread”. The second time Amalak attacked, they plotted against Israel in disguise as Canaanites to trick and confuse the Jews’ tactics and prayers. The verse quoted by the second child thus assures: “[Their] counsel shall be nullified”.
The third attack of Amalek against the Jews was lead by the Amalekite Haman. In the letter he composed in the name of Achashverosh to the nations he wrote that the time had come that this people could finally be destroyed. Their G-d, he claimed, had grown old. Just as He was not able to save His Temple from the onslaught of Nevuchadnetzar, so too could He no longer save His people from destruction. G-d’s response to Haman’s audacity was communicated through the verse quoted by the third child: “Until old age I am…I shall endure and I shall save.”
Thus encouraged by the prophetic inspiration communicated through these pure and Jewishly-learned children, Mordechai led his people to a third victory over the forces of evil as described in the Megilla (Scroll of Esther).
May the Hamans of the world and their cohorts be eradicated for good and may we merit a world of peace speedily in our days. Amen.
May we all be blessed with the spirit of Purim, a world of brotherly love.
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
Purim is the most joyous of Jewish holidays as Yom Kippur is somber. The festival commemorates the events found in the Book of Esther, celebrating the nulification of a decree seeking the deaths of Jews.
Rabbi Mark Washofsky comments: “The Biblical Scroll of Esther, recounts the courageous acts of Esther and Mordechai through which the Jews triumphed over enemies bent upon their destruction,maintaining their- self respect and religious integrity and refusing to bend before any authority but G-d.
Unfortunately, over the past several months we have seen the rise of antisemitism not only here in the United States, but throughout the world. Gilad Erdan, permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations stated : “The internet has become a cesspool of Jew-hatred. And the only way to combat this is through legislation ,enforcement and accountability.The law must draw red lines where they belong.All bigots must understand that their hatred carries a heavy price , that their words and violence will not go unpunished.We must go on the offensive and our response must be harsh and immediate.”
But this is precisely the paradox of the Purim story.In the shadow of a genocidal decree, at what was the most precarious time of our nation since we were slaves in Egypt — with the help of the Almighty we survived. Relief might have been the logical response.Inhibition and trepidation might have been expected.But instead we rejoiced.
In the words of the late Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l “The people that can know the full darkness of history and yet rejoice, is a people whose spirit no power can break.”
On behalf of my wife and our family we wish all our members and your dear families a joyous and safe Purim.