Friday, March 02, 2007

The appeasers of Shushan

We all know, in the story of Purim, that Mordechai refused to bow down to Haman. We can also infer from this that the other Jews did indeed bow down to Haman.

How did the Jews who violated Jewish law and bow to Haman treat Mordechai? The answer is not surprising - according to the Gemara, they castigated him, telling him that he was going to get them all in trouble.

After the evil decree to murder all the Jews of the Persian Empire came down, one can imagine how the other Jews felt. They blamed Mordechai for their troubles. If only he wouldn't have been so stubborn, the Jews could have gone on to live happy lives as minorities in Persia where no one would bother them. He single-handedly gave the Jews a death sentence.

We all know who was right in the end. And we can also deduce what would have happened to those intellectual and practical Jews of Persia had Mordechai not done what he did - the second Temple would never have been built and the Jews would have disappeared as a people. Whether it would have been another Haman doing it with genocide or simple assimilation, the outcome would have been the same.

It remains to us to ask ourselves, honestly - whose side would we have been on had we lived in Shushan?

The Jews today who want to abandon Judea and Samaria have the same compelling argument that the Jews of Shushan had - a tiny number of "extremists" are rocking the boat and endangering everyone. Self-interest almost always drives how people act, and it is very easy to find logical arguments to support one's conception of self-interest.

Mordechai did not have a logical argument for acting as he did. In most moral systems, he would be considered to be in error. It is easy today to say that he was right and that he was a hero, but at the time it seemed obvious that he was dead wrong.

Do we have the conviction today to be like Mordechai?