Purim in the 20th and 21st centuries


 The Pesach (Passover) seder reminds us that in every generation, there are those who rise up to destroy the Jewish people, but God destroys the enemy and saves the Jews.. In the Book of Esther, Haman was the one who plottedto destroy God’s chosen people. In modern times, there have been three significant figures, a German, a Russian, and an Iraqi, who threatened the Jewish people in the 20th century, and there are echoes of Purim in their stories. And today there is a third the Prime Minister of Persia.

Two fascinating incidents involving the Nazis,Hitler and Purim

In 1941, Hitler banned Purim, and Nazi territories, Synagogues closed for the day of Purim.
Then on January 30, 1944. Hitler addressed Germany on the 11th anniversary of the Nazi Party coming to .
In that address, he blamed international Jewry for all the ills of Germany and Europe. He said, If Russia defeats Germany, “Jewry would celebrate the destruction of Europe by a second triumphant Purim festival.”
A little over a year later, in an amazing turn of events, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker, and the Jewish prisoners in the Nazi death camps were liberated.

In the Nuremberg war crime trials there was an even more incredible echo of Purim. In the Book of Esther, Haman’s ten sons were hanged (Esther 9:13); in 1946, ten of Hitler’s top associates were put to death by hanging for their war crimes (including the crime of murdering 6 million Jews). One of the men seems to have been aware of the parallel: on the way to the gallows, Julius Streicher shouted “Purim Fest 1946!” See: The Execution of Nazi War Criminals. It is also interesting that, in the traditional text of the Megillah (Book of Esther), in the list of the names of Haman’s sons, the letters Tav in the first name, Shin in the seventh name and Zayin in the tenth name are written in smaller letters than the rest. The numerical value of Tav-Shin-Zayin is 707, and these ten men were hanged in the Jewish year 5707 (the thousands digit is routinely skipped when writing Jewish years; there are no numerals for thousands in Hebrew numbering). They were not hanged on Purim, though — they were hanged on Hoshanah Rabbah. Hoshannah Rabbah is celebrated on the 7th day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). The congregation makes seven circuits, carrying the ark containing the Torah around in the synagogue, and crying out Hoshanah which means “Please save us.” How appropriate that these ten Nazi war criminals were executed while the Jews were crying out in their synagogues, “Please save us!”

Another year, another land, and echo of Purim was found in the Soviet Union. In early 1953, Stalin was planning to deport most of the Jews in the Soviet Union to Siberia, but just before his plans came to fruition, he suffered a stroke and died a few days later. He suffered that stroke on the night of March 1, 1953: the night after Purim (note: Jewish days end at sunset; you will see March 1 on the calendar as Purim). The plan to deport Jews was not carried out.

A story is told of that 1953 Purim in Chabad (Lubavitcher Chasidic Judaism): the Lubavitcher Rebbe led a Purim gathering and was asked to give a blessing for the Jews of the Soviet Union, who were known to be in great danger. The Rebbe instead told a cryptic story about a man who was voting in the Soviet Union and heard people cheering for the candidate, “Hoorah! Hoorah!” The man did not want to cheer, but was afraid to not cheer, so he said “hoorah,” but in his heart, he meant it in Hebrew: hu ra, which means, “he is evil”! The crowd at the Rebbe’s 1953 gathering began chanting “hu ra!” regarding Stalin, and that night, Stalin suffered the stroke that lead to his death a few days later.  

An Asian nation, in 1991. To understand what happened, we must remember that Jewish people all over the world celebrate the Festival of Purimto  commemorate the miraculous national deliverance of the Jews of Persia.  To celebrate the national deliverance, friends and relatives give gifts to each other, and children wear costumes at Purim parties.  There are also street parades.  
During the first Gulf War (“Desert Storm”) 1991, there were unforgettable scenes of mothers taking their children to school dressed as little Esthers and Mordechais.  The Esthers wore their crowns and carried their golden scepters.  But that Purim, the children also carried their gas masks.   And that Purim, 1991, the first Gulf War ended. Since then, that particular “Haman” (Saddam Hussein) is now gone It was the prayers of Esther, Mordechai and the people of God, and His faithfulness on behalf of His people which brought the great victory and delivered the nation … again!.  Fasting and prayer changed the history of a nation!

In this 21st century there’s a new enemy threatening to destroy all Jews, specially those in Israel … to wipe Israel off the map. He is, like Haman, the Prime Minister of Persia (Iran), and in his vile plan he has two rabid supporters: Hizbullah operating from Syria, and Hamas in Gaza (Hamas as a name is incredibly close to Haman, in both sound and spelling!). Unknown to this unholy trio, the God of Israel is watching, and will surely act to preserve the Jewish nation as He has promised He will do, and as He has done in the past. As Paul says in Romans 11:28, of the Jews who have rejected their Messiah, God still loves them dearly because “as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” Hallelujah!

Let’s see how this year’s Purim plays out under the sovereign power of the God of Israel.

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