Prudes and Party-Poopers
Mordechai, by doing Hashem's will, saved the Jewish People from certain annihilation. If he were alive today, would he be accepted by the liberal Jewish establishment?
Mordechai really upset the liberal Jewish establishment of his day. All the Jews were looking forward to participating in the festive ball that King Achashverosh was hosting at the royal palace in honor of his monarchy. This was a chance to solidify connections in the upper echelons of the king’s governing administration and to seal lucrative government contracts. As the Megillah tells us, the king promised to fulfill the wishes of all his guests, with the best wines, the best food and more. Undoubtedly the event of the century, the date of the royal ball was marked down with highlighted letters in every home calendar. Jewish dressmakers, tailors and jewelers had no time to breathe, for customers were standing in line to prepare themselves for the monumental affair. Jewish businesses were booming.
Afraid of being labelled as “uncool”, “prudes”, “primitive” and “party poopers”, a few traditional Jews timidly asked, “Will the affair be kosher? Will there be separate seating?”
The community activists answered forcefully, “Of course! We’ve made all the necessary arrangements with the palace staff. There will be a Glatt-kosher caterer with Glatt-kosher wines. The meat will be Badatz Shushan (slaughtered under the supervision of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinical court of Shushan, the capital city) so no one will have an excuse for not attending. And yes, there will even be separate seating. No problem at all – we must all honor the king and show up for the ball, showing our Jewish solidarity, loyalty, and support for the monarchy. No one must miss this historic event!”
The activists were correct about one thing – the event was certainly historic. But just as the Jewish activists and establishment said that everyone must show up to honor the flesh-and-blood king, Mordechai the tzaddik said that no one must show up, for this would be a terrible affront to the King of Kings – Hashem.
The Jewish community thought that Mordechai was daft…
Imagine the protest in the liberal Jewish media after Mordechai issued his kol koreh, his Torah-oriented proclamation prohibiting any Jew from participating. Mordechai, one of the exiled members of the Sanhedrin, was an unblemished righteous individual whose every act, utterance, and thought was daat Torah, the purest expression of Torah outlook. His views were in no way popular, even though they represented what’s best for the Jewish nation. He ruffled the feathers of the liberals, the progressives, and even the traditionalists. The Counsel of Persian Hebrew Elected Representatives, “COPHER” (כופר in Hebrew means “heretic”), condemned Mordechai’s unreasonable, ultra-Orthodox, undiplomatic, and anti-establishment views in the strongest of terms. Full-page ads appeared in all the Hebrew and Jewish dailies with tremendous placards plastered up and down the walls in all the Jewish neighborhoods condemning Mordechai.
By the time the week of festivities arrived, Mordechai was literally chased out of town, according to one historical opinion. Another opinion says that he fled town on his own, fearing that any Jew who refused to attend the royal ball and feast would be incarcerated. At any rate, Mordechai and a handful of loyal followers were far away from Shushan during the entire week of the ball.
Sure, Glatt kosher food and separate seating were available to those who wanted them. Yet, the ball was administered in accordance with the finest Persian traditions of hospitality, which included a number of amenities that constitute the worst transgressions of Torah and personal holiness. While the kosher-observant Jews were eating their Glatt-kosher lamb-and-rice pilaf, their eyes were indulging in the many not-so-kosher sights all around them, which we need not describe…
That same night, the ax of judgment fell in the Heavenly Court. Enough is enough. If the Jews want to subject themselves to spiritual contamination and annihilation, subject their sons to foreign woman who will not only bear them non-Jewish children but will sever them from their faith in the G-d of Israel, then the Heavenly Court will expedite the process. Soon, the Haman-engineered edict was signed and sealed by King Achashverosh himself, calling for the imminent global annihilation of the Jewish People, Heaven forbid.
Thanks to Hashem’s limitless compassion and to the true tzaddikim Esther and Mordechai, the evil edict boomeranged on the heads of Israel’s enemies. Haman and his henchmen were hanged, and the Jews were miraculously saved.
By virtue of the “unreasonable, ultra-Orthodox, undiplomatic, and anti-establishment views” of Mordechai and Esther, we Jews are still here today to celebrate the festival of Purim.
The liberal Jewish establishment still fails to understand why the Heavenly Court was so severe. That’s why, to this day, they condone pluralization and dilution of Jewish holiness, whether it’s an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall or the Israeli Supreme Court decision to force mikvahs to enable the immersion of converts who haven’t been properly converted according to Jewish Law.
So why was the Heavenly Court so severe? Even after the miracle of Purim, when Ezra the Prophet returned to Zion with 40,000 Jews to rebuild the Holy Temple, many Jews had already intermarried . Ezra and Nechemiah worked hard in restoring the Jewish People, who had taken a spiritual dive in the Diaspora but were now on the way back up. Ezra the Prophet made a number of rabbinical ordinances to help prevent Jews from intermarrying, for intermarriage is a serious transgression of Torah .
The Code of Jewish Law contains a whole series of rabbinical ordinances that originated with Ezra the Prophet, which limit what a Jew may eat and where. For example, even if the ingredients of a certain type of bread are perfectly kosher, a Jew may not partake of it if the bread was baked by a non-Jew . The same goes for wine. Why? Our sages explain that the act of breaking bread and drinking wine breeds familiarity; the Jew and non-Jew eat and drink together and before long, their children marry one another. Our sages knew that if one doesn’t walk along the edge of a cliff, he won’t fall off it. The rabbinical ordinances, as such, are designed to distance Jews from the cliff of assimilation and intermarriage.
No one says that the true tzaddikim are democratic or populistic, but majority opinion and popular attitudes neither reflect Divine opinion nor what Hashem wants from us. That’s why it behooves us to listen to the true tzaddikim of our generation. As King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, there’s nothing new under the sun. The lessons of Purim are a guiding light for us today, which we certainly should not ignore. Happy Purim!