Laughter is the beginning of prayer, and humor is a prelude to faith
Purim reminds us our deeds matter. Esther bravely stood up against Haman, a narcissist obsessed with power. As we enter the second year of war in Ukraine, we see the on-going destruction caused by Putin, a modern Haman. The population of Ukraine, like Esther and Mordecai, are desperately defending their people against a tyrant.
This week we also witnessed an intensification of a power-struggle in Israel. More than 300,000 Israelis took to the streets demonstrating against changes to the structure of Israel’s government. It is painful to see Israeli society in turmoil. The President of Israel, Herzog, called on Prime Minister Netanyahu, to slow down radically overhauling governance and to make the process as inclusive as possible. The Torah teaches the health of society is measured by the way it includes the powerless, “The stranger, the orphan and the widow.” I pray Israel will find a way to achieve an internal peace with compromise and dignity.
Purim is about power and the abuse of power. Power is wielded ethically when there is a process of respectful discussion with all involved. Power is abused when an individual pursues a selfish agenda.
Haman abused his power because he felt insulted when Mordecai would not bow down to him. The source of Haman’s rage was a bruised ego. Haman obsessed with his own honor wanted revenge not just against Mordecai, but against all the Jewish people.
Esther, risked her personal safety and position to save not just her own skin, but to save the entire Jewish community of Persia. Esther is a model of selfless courage. Esther shows us that when we stand up on behalf of others we have a moral power, greater that the abuse of power by a selfish tyrant.
Tonight, we will celebrate Purim with groggers, the megillah and hamantaschen. I invite you to come to the Temple tonight with a costume or a funny hat. Mother Nature might don a costume of snow tonight so if you join via live stream you can still dress up at home.
It is an important mitzvah to embrace our holiday with joy. Niebuhr wrote “Laughter is the beginning of prayer, and humor is a prelude to faith.”
May Purim bring us laughter and joy to strengthen our faith in hope.
Purim Sameach, (Happy Purim),
Rabbi David Wilfond