Indian Jewish Congregation of USA Newsletter February 2013 Volume 7, Number 1

President’s Message by Rabbi Romiel Daniel

Purim, which got its name from word “Pur” – Lots that Haman cast to
see when Jews should be destroyed—falls February 24th this year. In
India, a customary celebration involved hanging the effigy of Haman and
then setting it on fire to the accompaniment of song and dance.

The Book of Esther is where the word “Jew” (Yehudi in Hebrew) gains
prominence. The word is derived from Judah (Yehuda), Jacob’s fourth
son. “There was a Jewish man in Shushan the capital, whose name was
Mordechai the son of Yair… a Benjaminite” (Esther 2:5). So, the first
person to be dubbed a Jew in a Biblical text was actually from the tribe
of Benjamin. In the next 2,500 years our “Jewishness” was to be tested
by countless regimes, some friendly but most hostile. We proved
ourselves true to G-d, earning the name Jew through blood and tears.
Megillah originates from the word “Gilui” meaning revelation. Esther
originates from the word “Hester” meaning concealment. In other words,
Megillat Esther is about the revelation of the concealed. The Book of
Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not contain the name of
G-d. But make no mistake, His Hand is seen clearly throughout the
powerful story of deliverance. One such example is the fact that Queen
Vashti, the granddaughter of King Nebuchadnezzar who had destroyed
the First Holy Temple, was either exiled or killed—hence the last vestige
of the evil dynasty was wiped out.

Haman, the Grand Vizier of Persia, tells the Persian King Ahasuerus:
“Annihilate the Jews.” In the 21st century, Iran’s Supreme leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said:
“The Cancerous state of Israel should be destroyed.” Different leaders,
same story. Let them read the Book of Esther and realize that Haman’s
fate on the gallows built for Mordechai the Jew is likely to be the fate of
anyone who thunders against G-d’s Chosen People. The same praying
and fasting people will survive and grow.

Darius the Second son of Queen Esther who succeeded King Ahaseureus
as King of Persia allowed the Jews to the rebuilding of the Temple. Let us
hope in our time that we witness the rebuilding of the Third Temple.

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