ZAYIN ADAR, MOSHE, ESTHER, PARSHAT ZACHOR AND POLAND
By: Suri Davis
Zayin Adar is most famously known for being the birth and yahrtzeit/death anniversary of Moshe/Moses. It is also the yahrtzeit of Queen Esther, whom we read about next week on Purim in the Book of Esther.
There are no coincidences in life, so there has to be a connection between Moses and Esther and their deaths.
There are two parts of Torah, the written and the oral. Moses lead us out of Egypt to redemption to receive the written law on Mount Sinai. He remained there 40 days learning the oral law which was then orally transmitted from generation to generation and is called the Talmud, i.e., Mishnah and Gemara.
When G-d asked the Jews if they were prepared to receive the Torah they accepted it by saying we will do then we will hear. We are willing to accept them “sight unseen.” But that wasn’t really so. The midrash tells us that G-d had to twist their arm a bit, he held over their head a mountain and threatened to kill them if they did not accept the torah. They accepted the written law, oral law was not yet accepted.
Queen Esther became Queen married to a gentile drunkard ultimately so she could save the entire Jewish population of 127 provinces under Persian rule. It was after her redemption of the Jews from the Persian, Haman, that the Book of Esther informs us Kiymu v’kiblu Hayehudim/the Jews observed and accepted the oral law that they had not accepted at Mt. Sinai.
Moses and Esther were redeemers. After their respective redemptions, that the Jews took upon themselves the laws of the Torah and Judaism.
The servitude of the Jews in Egypt and Persia were the desire of the king to kill the Jews because they were Jews. Pharaoh murdered hundreds of Jewish babies daily for his own gain. The Persians wanted to kill the Jews, not because the Jews would not assimilate into their culture, but because they wanted to physically eradicate Jews.
Where they differ is that G-d commanded Moses to speak to the rock to draw water from it, so that Moses would sanctify G-d’s name to the Jews and other nations. Moses hit the rock and was punished by being denied entry into Israel.
Esther was taken against her will to the palace of Achashverosh. She could have stayed from the king who had not asked to see her for weeks. Mordechai asked her to sacrifice her Jewish life to save the lives of the Jews, she did, thereby sanctifying G-d’s name, at her own personal loss. She was married to Mordechai, and a married woman who willingly goes to another man, cannot return to her husband. After Esther approached the king to beg for the lives of her people, she lost her opportunity to return to Mordechai. Ultimately, of course G-d rewarded her. He gave their union a child who permitted the Jews to return from exile and rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
In every generation Jews are persecuted and prosecuted for being Jewish. So it goes this week, that Poland would like to exculpate its sins in Jewish History by passing a law which criminalizes the use of the phrase “Polish death camps.” While the camps were built by the Germans, critics claim it is part of an attempt to white wash Poland’s own anti-semitic history.
But this week we read in the Maftir in shul parshat Zachor, which is the section of the Torah which discusses how the Amalek nation attacked the Jews soon after the Exodus when they were weak and vulnerable, and how it is a commandment to always remember, lest we forget and permit history to repeat itself.
How ironic, that the week that we remember the story of the Jews first attack by a foreign nation, we read about Poland who would like to white wash its recent collaboration against the Jewish nations last atrocity, the Holocaust.
So on this day that we commemorate the deaths of Moses and Esther, redeemers, we ask G-d that their souls beseech G-d to bring the final redemption so that we no longer have to be subject to the terror at the hands of other nations from generation to generation. Let G-d fulfill his prophecy that war tools will be repurposed into plow shares, and may we celebrate the coming of the Messiah speedily in our days.