Rabbi's Message

Rabbi's Message

Rabbi Feingold's bimonthly message

February 2015

on Tuesday, 03 March 2015. Posted in Rabbi's Message

With a foot of snow on the ground as I write and sub zero wind chills, it hardly seems like Purim and Pesach could be the main subjects of the this issue of Achshav, but so it is. Before we know it, Purim, our end-of-winter "cabin fever" holiday, will be here. It provides for a bit of fun relief and release after the long, cold months. And exactly one month later, Pesach, the harbinger of spring, will arrive. Almost all of our holidays have a connection to the cycles of nature -- in addition to their historical meanings.

Observing the troubling rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the news, these holidays cause us to reflect upon our history as a people and the fact that hatred of Jews has always been a part of it. Anti-Semitism keeps cropping up in places and situations where we least expect it. While we pray for a messianic age when all divisions, hatred and oppression will be banished from our world, until that time comes to pass, we must find ways to cope with the reality that our people are still maligned and mistreated in certain places and under certain circumstances in our world.

Purim and Pesach provide two very different ways to cope with this sad history and continuing reality: Purim's observances, with the silliness and spoofing of the Book of Esther and evil Hamah's plot to kill the Jews, allow us to pause for a moment and laugh a bit at ourselves and enemies who have made our lives difficult. Pesach, on the other hand, takes a more serious approach, having us taste the bitterness of slavery at the Seder, eat the "bread of affliction," and retell all of the details of our ignominious past under Pharaoh's oppression, so that we will remember to work for the freedom of all people.

Both of these approaches have their place. Both provide coping mechanisms when confronting the truth that there have always been and still are people who hate Jews just because of who we are. Fortunately, we live in a land of liberty where we are free to be who we are—free to turn our graggers and wear silly costumes while we laugh at our predicament on Purim; free to eat matzah and read the Haggadah in our homes as we consider how to defeat tyranny on Pesach.

I would be interested to hear from each of you: As you contemplate anti-Semitism or the oppression of any people, which of these two approaches work best for you- laughing it off or digging in to remember and respond? Please share your thoughts at the blog portion of the BHT website by clicking here.

Happy Purim and Chag HaPesach Samei'ach!

Rabbi Dena A. Feingold

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