Purim Reversal

March 24, 2024, Israel

Now in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's command and edict were about to be carried out, on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. 2 The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all people. (Scroll of Esther, Chapter 9)

The Hebrew words for "the reverse occurred", mean the opposite happened, or, things turned out the opposite of what was planned, those who wished to oppress the Jewish people were killed and the Jews were saved. These two words are used as the reason for the custom of dressing up in costumes. I say used as the reason because I feel it is just a justification for the fun idea of a costume party. As my dear mother taught me, every ancient culture had a costume party holiday but the rabbis, in their wisdom, incorporated this idea into a religious setting rather than allow it to be used for debauchery and sexual promiscuity, as it was with the Pagans of that time. 

Taking this idea, of the reversal, the tables having been turned, and the intended victim becoming the powerful defender, does not require historical or divine justification. We do not need an order from the king, we do not need Divine intervention. I believe the message of the story is that the weak, scattered, humiliated, people were able to come together, unite and defeat their enemies. Similar to the Wizard of Oz, where the seekers of the wizard believe that only his magnificent powers can cure them of their ailments, and then when the meet him they discover that they had this power within them all along, I believe the message of this great story is precisely that: You already have the power within you. The Jewish people are described as a people scattered and dispersed among the nations, and Esther calls to "gather all the Jews". It is a call for unity, it is a call for united action. 

The story of Purim is a universal message; the weak intended victim can prevail. The Jews use political influence, prayer, community action (creating unity) and military self-defense. I think it is a brilliant story and a truly inspiring story. But I do believe that the message is lost on many today. To me the holiday is not about the Fast of Esther, it is not about dressing up in silly costumes, but if that makes you happy that is fine with me, it is not about drinking and eating. To me it is about building a sense of community, it is about coming together, and it is about taking matters into our own hands and saying we can defend ourselves.

Can you defend yourself???


Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.

Understand the Israeli Fighting Mentality - Israel a Nation of Warriors by Moshe Katz


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