Pre-Purim Poem 2011 / 5771

Following the precedent set last year, my sermon for the Shabbat before Purim was delivered in rhyming couplets. I’m also pleased to report this one was equally well received

It’s Purim again and you know what that means.
It’s time to revisit our Purim routines.

Gifts to the poor and baskets of fruit
Reading megillah as we holler and hoot

And the meal of course which should make you rethink
Just how much of whiskey and wine you should drink

But when we celebrate this particular season
We often ignore or forget its main reason

For unlike hagim when we reenact miracles
On Purim we mostly promote the satirical

We’re laugh, we sing, and we put on a spiel
One day to have fun – so what’s the big deal?

God saved us again, this time through means hidden
And where does it say letting loose is forbidden?

Now I don’t mean to stop anyone from enjoying
And I’m sorry in advance if I’m being annoying

But I’d like to remind everyone in this shul
We have deeper meanings as a general rule

There’s of course nothing wrong with our celebration
I’d just like to include a small contemplation

Yes we were saved from a terrible danger
From a drunk king and Haman – the whole plot’s arranger

We all know by now how the story begins
But consider the question – just when did we win?

With all of our parties we hardly give thought
To the end of the story and the war that was fought

Haman’s great plan was to have the Jews killed
And so he affected how the king willed

Ahashverosh decreed that throughout all his lands
The Jews could be killed just by his command

Esther and Mordechai worked out their own plot
To ensure Haman’s plan would come out for naught

It involved Achashverosh getting drunk one more time
Which it seems is as easy for this Rabbi to rhyme.

It is a long story and so I’ll condense
This “great help” from the king just allowed self-defense

The whole of the empire – still free to attack
The only change now is that Jews could fight back

Now as miracles go and what God can do
This seems kind of lame – to me if not you

At least by Hannukah we fought with poor odds
That we can say that we won with assistance from God

In the story of Purim there is nary a mention
Of even a hint of divine intervention

The groups of the Jews seemed to fight on their own
And any assistance was at best unknown

For Achashverosh too did not intervene
And the outcome of battle could not be forseen

And yet they took arms to fight for their lives
And because of their courage, our people survives

But there’s an important description our Megillah makes clear
That our deadly opponents were overtaken by fear

At the climax of Haman’s elaborate scheme
נָפַל פַּחְדָּם עַל כָּל הָעַמִּים

So why were they frightened – what need to be scared
Of a people for whom the king barely cared?

An answer I’d offer lies within all mankind
That it is towards freedom that we are all inclined

And when banded together to fight for what’s right
Few forces can stop us, no matter their might

The greatest response to a powerful bully
Is to stand up as one and oppose him quite fully

As we’ve seen recently, sitting here quite complacent
Middle East revolutions – some only still nascent

The price that it takes to create a free nation
Cannot be adjusted to any inflation

But people will tell you that despite lives that were lost
That sometimes the battles are worth every cost

To be perfectly clear and avoid all confusion
I am not advocating for armed revolution

But to remind everyone that in times of distress
We cannot remain silent while being oppressed

There are all sorts of reasons and tired excuses
For ignoring one’s pain and recurring abuses.

It’s too big, too hard, our opponents too massive
There’s no need to act, I’ll just sit and be passive

On Purim at least – for one day, or two
We put those aside for what we had to do

When we join together, united as one
There is no evil we cannot overcome

Unique to Purim, for all lessons learned
Is that sometimes our comfort and cheer must be earned

Having faith in God is all well and good
As long as our own role is as well understood

For the Jews in the Megillah, Purim meant to them
קִיְּמוּ וקבל וְקִבְּלוּ הַיְּהוּדִים עֲלֵיהֶם

They reaccepted the Torah with total free choice
And only after committing, were they free to rejoice

So recall as we dine on meal that’s most hearty
That sometimes we must fight for our own right to party


  1. Josh
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