Lessons from Iraq
Volume 4 , Issue 3 (March, 1991 | Adar, 5751)
Megalgellin zechul leyom zakkai, says the Talmud (Taanit 29a) ?
good things happen on a meritorious day. On the 14th of Adar some 2500 years
ago, the Book of Esther tells us, the Jews rested after killing 75,000 of their
would-be murderers in the empire of Iraq-Iran. On the 14th of Adar, 5751, now
the feast of Purim, the coalition forces declared a cease-fire,
and a banner headline in the New York Times proclaimed that the Iraqi army had
been "crushed." The foolish and evil King Achashverosh fancied
himself the heir to Nevuchadnezzar, and at a feast
celebrating what he thought was the 70th anniversary of the destruction of the
In some ways, the victory over Hussein is even greater than
the one over Haman. The Rabbis tells us that because of God's anger at the Jews
- perhaps for their eating treif at Achashverosh's feast, perhaps for their attending the feast at
all - the miraculousness of the victory and the Divine presence itself were
hidden from the Jews. To symbolize this, the name of God is not mentioned
explicitly in the Book of Esther. By contrast, the miracles of the modern day
victory were apparent, if not obvious. Thirty-eight Scud attacks on
Too, the victory over Haman was a victory for Jewish unity: Haman sought to kill all the Jews, and all Jews rose up to fight him. So today, Scud missiles landed among both religious and secular Jews, and diaspora Jewry, both religious and secular, responded as one, with their money and their prayers.
Yet the victory over Haman's minions was both incomplete
and temporary. The
But, all in all, Jews may celebrate the victory over Hussein just as they celebrate their victory over Haman. For, as we say at the seder, "Not merely one person has risen against us to destroy us, but rather in every generation people rise against us to destroy us. But the Holy one, Blessed be He, saves us from their hand."