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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Gerber

This Purim, Can We Be Joyful?

Perhaps the most poignant question I was asked on my trip to Israel came from a winemaker on the first day. After we sat together and tasted his amazing Jezreel Valley Wine, he said, “Rabbi, how can we drink and rejoice on Purim during these times?”

Indeed, Purim requires us to celebrate, rejoice, and drink (as long as it is in a healthy, responsible manner).

Hearts are heavy in Israel. Every thought is about the return of the hostages, the ongoing war in Gaza, and the pending conflict in Lebanon. For Jews outside of Israel, we have faced increasing antisemitism in our communities and online. How, indeed, do we fulfill the mitzvah to rejoice on Purim?

My answer to the winemaker was as follows:

Throughout our history, from Pharaoh to Amalek to Haman to Hitler, our enemies have risen up time and again to destroy us. They want nothing more than to kill our spirit and our hope. They detest the sounds of our faith and the expression of our religion. They want to make us afraid to be Jewish.

Hamas is Haman. Hamas is Amalek.

Every l’chayim we say on Purim is a resolute response to our oppressors. Every word in the Megillah is a reminder of our eternality. Every hamantaschen we enjoy, every grogger we spin, every mask we put on is an act of defiance against those who want nothing more than to quiet our Jewish souls.

Perhaps the masks that cover our faces will also cover tears this year. God knows we deserve to be mournful. But Jews are stubborn. We’re resolute. And above all else, we are diligent in upholding our faith.

I hope this Purim holds deeper meaning for all of us. A reminder of the existence of the evil that is Hamas. I hope our joyful noise blots out the wickedness of the Haman of our age. I hope our groggers shake their walls like Jericho. And above all else, I hope our commitment to our faith and our people gives us the resolve we need to bring our hostages home and defeat the wickedness that seeks our destruction.

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