The Dark Side of Purim

These days, many liberal Jews think of Purim as a play date for the kids and a night of drunken debauchery for the grown-ups. We think of costumes and songs and noisemakers, a kind of carnival spirit. But the levity with which we approach Purim is actually pretty astonishing. Because this holiday, fun as it may seem on the surface, has a dark and dangerous underside to it.

Orthodox Israeli scientist and philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903-1994) was once asked whether he would consider living outside Israel. Leibowitz allegedly responded that, no, he would not, one reason being that Israel was the only place he could live where he never had to celebrate Purim. On Purim he would be in Jerusalem (as a walled city, Jerusalem celebrates Purim a day after everyone else, called Shushan Purim) and on the evening after Purim Leibowitz would travel to Tel Aviv. Thus he never had to read the Megillah nor drink to celebrate an act of bloody revenge — that time we killed Haman, his sons and 75,000 of the Jews’ enemies throughout the ancient Persian empire. In typical fashion, Leibowitz cut to the chase. Purim is essentially about the celebration of violence.

Let us not forget that on Purim we drink to celebrate blotting out the nation of Amalek, of whom Haman is said to be a descendant. The Shabbat before Purim, called Shabbat Zakhor, Jews gather in synagogues to read the only biblically mandated Torah reading of the year, the verses that command genocide against the Amalekites. Perhaps we are commanded to get so inebriated on Purim to simulate the seemingly paradoxical notion of blotting out the memory of Haman through the very act of remembering Amalek. We must remember not only to not forget, but to blot out the enemy — not mercifully, but through genocide.

It is true that the rabbis long ago were aware of the danger of this commandment and put it to rest by saying we no longer know who Amalek is. But as Elliot Horowitz shows in painful detail in his must-read book Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence, Jews never really gave up on Amalek. In his introduction he cites an interview Jeffrey Goldberg did with now Knesset member Moshe Feiglin in Haaretz in 1994. Feiglin told Goldberg “that although he could not link the Arabs with Amalek ‘genetically,’ their behavior was ‘typical of Amalek.’” What did Feiglin imply here? A young settler, Ayelet, was asked if she thought Amalek was alive today, and she said to Goldberg, “Of course,” and pointed toward an Arab village in the distance.

This Purim is the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Hebron massacre. Since then, every year at this time many Jews feel a twinge of embarrassment as they remember Baruch Goldstein, the American-Israeli who murdered 29 Palestinian Muslims at the Cave of the Patriarchs on Purim 20 years ago. But a mere twinge of embarrassment is too easy. Moshe Feiglin is an elected member of the Israeli government. And Ayelet is not an atypical settler supported by the government. And Goldstein’s grave in Kiryat Arba is a shrine for a whole community of Israelis. Amalek is arguably alive today in the minds of many Jews in ways it has not been in a long time (I recently saw a picture of Ahmadinejad with Hamantaschen ears on the Internet). An enemy is one thing. Amalek is something quite different.

I have taken Purim very seriously my entire adult life. And I have paid for it the next day in spades. But Baruch Goldstein ruined that for me. It was a loss of innocence. Like many others, I could never celebrate Purim the same way after 1994. Because the problem with the Jews today is not only the liberals who don’t take Purim seriously. It is also the Jews who take Purim seriously. Very seriously. Too seriously.

So what should be done about this holiday? If you want to approach Purim with a spirit of open-mindedness this year, I’ve got an idea of how to do it. There is a story about blotting out Amalek told in the name of the Hasidic master Zvi Elimelekh of Dinov (1783-1841). I heard the story from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. During the Purim feast, Zvi Elimelekh suddenly stopped the festivities and said, “Saddle the horses and get the carriages, it is time to blot out Amalek.” His Hasidim were petrified. “What could the master mean?” Being obedient disciples, they got in their carriages and followed their rebbe. He rode into town to a local inn where the Polish peasants (the Amalekites of his day?) were engaged in their own drunken bash.

The rebbe and his disciples entered the inn. When the peasants saw them, they stopped dancing. The music stopped. Everyone circled around the rebbe and the Jews as they walked to the center of the dance floor. The room was silent. The rebbe looked at one of the peasants and put out his hand with his palm to the ceiling. Silence. The peasants looked at one another. Suddenly one of them stepped forward and took the rebbe’s hand. They slowly started dancing. The musicians began playing. In a matter of minutes, all the Hasidim and peasants were dancing furiously with one another.

You want to blot out Amalek? Go to the mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Or any mosque. Reach out your hand. And dance. That is how you blot out Amalek. Crazy? Ask Zvi Elimelekh of Dinov. That is what it means to take Purim seriously after 1994.

  1. #1 by rehmat1 on 03/13/2014 - 9:34

    The Jewish religious holiday of Purim is around the corner. The Jewish children are receiving ‘The Purim Superhero’, a children story book as a gift from the PJ Library. It’s the first Jewish children’s book with LGBT characters.

    Elizabeth Kushner, the author of ‘The Purim Superhero’, is a lesbian Jewish mother who lives in Vancouver, Canada with her spouse Lise and daughter. She wrote the book to enter picture book contest held by Keshet, a Jewish lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organization – and won the contest.

    The book was published by Kar-Ben publishing last year. It’s based on the story of a Jewish boy who turns to his two fathers for advice after his Hebrew school classmates tell him he cannot dress up as an alien for Purim.

    The PJ Library first decided to donate the book to Jewish families on a request basis only – in order not to offend the Orthodox (Torah) Jewish families which still hang-on to the “outdated” belief that homosexual activity is against the Moses Law (Torah). But after a furious campaign by the Jewish LGBT groups and the same sex couples with children, the PJ Library decided to send The Purim Superhero to all.

    “As a proud Jewish mother and a proud lesbian, I aim to surround my children with a rich Jewish life. LGBT families are in synagogues. We are in Day Schools. We are in Jewish summer camps and Hebrew schools. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the children you serve with PJ Library to see us in a book too,” Naomi Sunshine wrote to PJ Library, The Jewish Week, March 6, 2014.

    The American conservatives, reform and reconstructionist Jewish communities all recognize same-sex marriage and allow openly gay and lesbians to be ordained as rabbis. A 2013 survey carried out by Israel lobby group, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) found that 71% of American Jews support same-sex marriage being legalized in America.

    Purim (lot) or lottery used by Haman to choose the date for the massacre of Jews living in Persia – is one of the three most important Jewish religious holidays (the other being Passover and Chanukah). Purim is usually celebrated in the month of March (Adar 15) each year. According to Book of Esther (Magillat in Hebrew)), the Crypto-Jew Queen of Persia, Esther, pleaded to her husband, King Ahasuerus (who did not know that his wife was Jewish), to save Jews living in province of Shushan, who were declared ‘disloyal’ by King’s prime minister Haman. With the blessings from the King, Queen Esther and her adopted father, Mordechai, armed the Jews, who killed Haman and his family and carried out slaughter of over 75,000 Persian (Goyim) civilians. Haman’s entire estate was given to Esther and Mordrchai replaced Haman as country’s new prime minister.

    It is not a coincident that American Jewish extremist, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, founder of Jewish Defense League (JDL), chose Purim 1994, to murder 40 Muslim worshippers inside Hebron mosque – or Bush ordering the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Muslims and Christians (Goyim) on Purim 2003 (March 18-19, 2003).

    This year Purim begins the evening of March 15 and ends at sundown March 16.

  2. #2 by Vickie Jacobs on 03/13/2014 - 9:34

    Esther, the Jew queen, saved these people, yet no mention of her? It was because of her saving these people that they celebrate Purim.

    Esther 5:1……….she put on her ROYAL apparel. It took three days to have her looking clean and presentable to gain favor in the sight of others. She had everyone in her court do the same. No one was seen drunk or in bad taste.

    Even Isaiah 52:1 tells these people to put on beautiful garments that they don’t present themselves as uncircumcised and unclean.

    I don’t know what these people are reading but it’s not their own scriptures.

  3. #3 by bigcree1 on 03/13/2014 - 9:34

    I first learned of this ‘Holiday’ about ten years ago and ever since then have been appalled by the brazen hatred of non jews the adherents embrace. Baruch Goldstein is just one example of it. Their building a bloody murderer a ‘shrine’ is an abomination. A vexation to all that is sacred. When I read of his violent machine gun slaughter of innocent people in their sacred place, taking part in a prayer Ceremony I become enraged and livid with righteous indignation. He deserves no such honor as he was a coward and mind controlled minion of the Cult of lies, anti human sentiments and hardcore ethno centrism. This same group of self anointed pathological liars presents themselves as perennial ‘victims’ to the world when they are quite the opposite. They know their days are numbered as of recent. When the proverbial scat hits the fan their goose is definitely cooked. Note this alleged ‘holiday’ follows the Spring Equinox. The Kaballah seems to have a zodiacal twist. All based on ancient Astrology of which they stole from great Cultures such as the Vedics of India, the Celts of Ireland (Ayre’lnd) the ancient Chinese and Persians of whom they fear as ‘Amalek’. What irony!

  4. #4 by nooralhaqiqa on 03/13/2014 - 9:34

    This was a very interesting take on Purim. It shows that once in a blue moon or fifty a non Satanic type rabbi existed….. It is encouraging to see such a piece appear in Jewish media. A sop? Perhaps. But would we have seen such a piece even ten years ago? It is small proof that slowly some of these folks are catching on which is why I, for one, cannot damn every one of them. You know what? If one of them offered me a non drunken hand to dance, I might ~ in the spirit of peace, not remembrance of the horrors the event signifies. Heck, guess I am a dreamer…

  5. #5 by NLG on 03/13/2014 - 9:34

    It’s sickening on so many levels. But what do you expect from an identity-group incapable of true self-reflection? Anything that holds up a mirror to their true nature, the half they hide, that gets projected onto their enemies, is anathematized, ritually, politically, and socially, period. It’s a mental disease. God doesn’t love you more because you’re a Jew or love Jews. Get over yourself.

  6. #6 by on 03/13/2014 - 9:34 This is my narration of the fake/fable “The Book of Esther”.

    Here is my commentary on the fable that is perceived by the gullible masses to be reality, but in my VERY strong opinion, is an allegory to jewish infiltration throughout humanity’s history:

    If you disagree and actually believe that this event occurred as outlined in The Book of Esther, then show me the evidence for this, because I have not seen it, yet.


  7. #7 by Veritas on 03/14/2014 - 9:34

    @Lindsey The Book of Esther is recognize in the Church as inspired by God. It has been recognized as inspired by God from the very beginning of the Church, i.e., by the apostles who were tranmitting what they had received from our Lord Jesus.

    It is a matter of Faith to believe in all books of the Bible and without Faith nobody can please God. We are in a period of Graces preceding the second coming of Jesus-Christ. When He will come back to install his kingdom on Earth, he will exterminate all his enemies. We have to,consider that all who are not with Him are against Him, in other words : enemies.

  8. #8 by ariadnatheo on 03/14/2014 - 9:34

    “all who are not with Him are against Him”
    An unsettling suggestion that Dubya is godlike…. 🙂

  9. #9 by Todd Raine on 03/14/2014 - 9:34

    When did Jesus advocate violence? When in His voice or action did he recognize the book of Esther? As far as I could tell, He is The judgement of the scribes and Pharisees. You remember them? “Vengeance is mine, saith The Lord”. Our Lord had nothing to do with the book we know as Esther. It does have a most important part in a pagan Jewish holiday known as Purim though. When did Jesus advocate this kind of violence? Any violence? Please share the chapter and verse with me? I, in my Christian ignorance, missed that line. Which church believes this is Gods word, even though God is not once mentioned in this book? Which church accepts this as Gods word? Inspired by God? No, sorry princess. Not any more than a Steven King book or movie. I assume you understand that Steven King’s movies are just stories? You do understand that much don’t you?

  10. #10 by kittie kittie on 03/14/2014 - 9:34

    Not to be outdone by Leonidas King of the Spartans in pitched battle with a superior army of Xerxes I at Thermopylae, Jews fabricate the Book of Ester some five hundred years later where their Chosen dual citizen becomes a “Persian queen” then butchers 75,300 Persian subjects.

    You see, Jews celebrate their enemy’s death whereas the rest of the world celebrates victory between adversaries and mourns all of those fallen.

  11. #11 by A-TP on 03/14/2014 - 9:34

    @ Bigcree1,Amalek is the jewish name for Aryans,the first agrarian cultivators.Amalek= valley dwellers.

  12. #12 by Obama Bin Bush on 03/15/2014 - 9:34

    #4 by nooralhaqiqa on March 13, 2014 – 8:21 pm

    This was a very interesting take on Purim. It shows that once in a blue moon or fifty a non Satanic type rabbi existed….. It is encouraging to see such a piece appear in Jewish media. A sop? Perhaps. But would we have seen such a piece even ten years ago? It is small proof that slowly some of these folks are catching on which is why I, for one, cannot damn every one of them. You know what? If one of them offered me a non drunken hand to dance, I might ~ in the spirit of peace, not remembrance of the horrors the event signifies. Heck, guess I am a dreamer…

    I can and I do. They simply have to overcome their evil and wickedness and then they can escape their well-earned damnation.

    That’s the only reason they’re still around… people far far less evil were utterly destroyed for fewer and less severe transgressions…

    They either shape up and join the human race or they can continue being damned, just as God had said would happen (love the book of Jeremiah).

    This same cycle of sympathy keeps hitting me as well… and each time I muster up the courage to extend my hand, it comes back bloody.

    It’s very simple, they want help leaving the cult? Fine, we’ll be more than happy to help. Until then, they are still the enemy.

    Here’s a quote from Rehmat’s site:

    Rabbi Steve Greenberg wrote at My Jewish Learning website that it’s okey for a Jew to hide his/her Jewish identity if it serves his personal or Jewish community’s interests.

    “In many ways, we are all Marranos (Crypto Jews), hiding behind our various masks and robes,” said Rabbi Greenberg.

    The BEST of them are our enemy. It’s something I have to beat into my head constantly… it’s because of my goy nature I suppose.

  13. #13 by restinpieces on 03/15/2014 - 9:34

    Want to boycott Israel? There’s an app for that.

  14. #14 by Ingrid B on 03/15/2014 - 9:34

    re. comment #1 by rehmat, on jewish acceptance of lesbians, and gays, I mjight have said this was a good thing, leading to fewer members of the clan, but they still manage to have kids..

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