Krav Maga Purim: Empowerment for All
By Moshe Katz
Krav Maga instructor, Israel

April 9, 2012

Today Jews around the world celebrate the holiday of Purim. It is a very festive holiday where many Jews behave in uncharacteristic manner. Ordinary restrained and conservative Jews appear in public in silly costumes; they drink, sing and dance.

Foolishness is considered an act of religious piety. What is all this based upon and is it relevant to Krav Maga?

The story of Purim, or "The Drawing of Lots", comes from the Biblical book, Megillath Esther, the Scroll of Esther. This scroll was written about 2,400 years ago, about 500 - 400 B.C.E. 

The story involves a plot by Haman, a Persian court official and a sworn enemy of the Jews. His goal is to destroy the Jewish people. Without going into the entire story (You can read that on the internet quite easily, or in your Bible), through a series of human and Divine acts, Mordechai and Esther not only save the Jewish people from genocide but fight back against their enemies and inflict massive damage and great carnage.

It is not clear if the events really took place as described in the scroll or if this is some sort of historical novel. What is clear is that this is a holiday that the Jewish people desperately needed. Being persecuted for many generations, suffering at the hands of nearly every nation on earth, we certainly needed a happy holiday where things are turned around and we become the victors. Basically, even if the story never took place, we would do well to create such a story; it raises hopes and lifts the spirit. (some suggest that perhaps it was written at the time of the Maccabean revolt - a true historical event without a doubt - to raise the hopes of the Jewish rebels and assure them of Divine assistance).

One of the reasons given for Jews wearing costumes, and behaving so differently than they usually do, is that on this day of Purim things became "reversed"; the Jews killed their enemies. Instead of the Jew being hung in public, it was Haman the Jew-Hater and his 10 sons. The German Nazis "avenged" this act by hanging ten Jews on Purim during that era when they ruled. 

Thus matters were "reversed", and here is the lesson of empowerment for all mankind. A small nation, described as being "Scattered and separated among the nations", takes bold action, defies the odds and fights back. Again it is the few against the many, the oppressed against the oppressors, the weak against the strong.

A people unprotected by a government without an army of its own, fights back and wins.

There are many clear historical inaccuracies in this story, and some scholars doubt the story of Esther as history, but it is an inspiring story; for every abused housewife, for every victim of rape, for every inner-city kid abused by gangs, for every small nation fighting to be free - this is a story to raise your hopes and give you courage.

Krav Maga is all about this "reversal"; it is about the victim, or potential victim, taking charge of his or her life and putting his attacker on the run.

Purim is a Krav Maga holiday and a holiday for all people. 

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