Responding to the Call of Christ - Rabbinic Thoughts for Purim 2019

Esther is one of the only two books in Tanach (Jewish Testament, i.e., Old Testament) which does not contain the name of the Lord, the other one being Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs). But whereas Shir HaShirim is a book about the Lord’s love for us, Esther is a fearful book because it records the moment when it was resolved Lehashmid laharog ule’abaid et kol hayehudim mina’ar v’ad zakein taf v’nashim beyom echad, “to destroy, to slay, and to exterminate all Jews, young and old, children and women, in a single day,” when the first warrant for genocide against the Jewish people was issued. Purim is the only festival in the Jewish year set entirely in Galut, (in Exile). Every other festival is either based on an event that happened in Israel or on the journey toward Israel. Purim alone takes place when the people of God are in exile – where it was harder for them to feel the presence of God in an alien land (Psalm 137). Yet there is one line in the Book of Esther that cuts through like a knife and represents the most powerful statement in the Bible which shows that that the Lord has not abandoned us.

Towards the end of the fourth chapter in the Book of Esther, we find Esther telling her uncle Mordechai about all the problems she might encounter while interceding with King Xerxes regarding the fate of the Jewish people. Mordechai listens and then responds to her with the famous words, Im haharesh tachrishi, ba’et hazot revach v’hatzla ya’amod layehudim mimakom acher, “If you are silent and you do nothing at this time somebody else will save the Jewish people.” U’mi yodeia im l’et kazot, higa’at lamalchut? “But who knows, was it not for just this moment that you became a Queen, with access to King Xerxes in the royal palace?”

For a believer in-Christ, this statement by Mordechai is the ultimate statement serving the Lord despite not sensing His presence… that wherever we are, sometimes the Lord is asking us to realize why He put us here, with these spiritual and natural gifts, at this time, with these dangers, in this place. It comes down to is our fundamental belief that God never abandons us, that He puts us here with something to do (Hebrews 13:1-8). Even in the worst “apparent hiding” of God, if you listen hard enough, you can hear Him calling to us as individuals, saying U’mi yodeia im l’et kazot higa’at lamalchut? “Was is not for this very challenge that you are here in this place at this time?” (Esther 4:14)

I want to tell you a story about a man named Eddie Jacobson. Eddie was an ordinary Jewish guy from the Lower East Side of New York. When Eddie was a child, his parents moved to Kansas City and there he met a child his own age. Soon they became close school friends, did military service together during the First World War, and decided that when the war was over they would go into business together. They set up a clothing store in Kansas City, but the business was not a great success and soon they drifted apart. Eddie Jacobson went on being a travelling salesman selling clothes. His friend, Harry S. Truman, took a slightly different route and landed up as president of the United States.
In 1947-48, the Jews of the world needed the support of the United States of America for the state of Israel to be proclaimed and recognized. The State Department was against it and advised the president not to support the creation of the state of Israel. Jews and Jewish organizations tried their utmost to see the president in the White House, and every single attempt was refused. Even the leader of the Zionist movement, Chaim Weizmann, the man who would become the first president of the State of Israel, was refused a meeting.

As time became desperate, somebody remembered that Harry S. Truman had a childhood friend called Eddie Jacobson. So, they reached out to Eddie and asked if he could get the president of the United States to meet with Chaim Weizmann. So, Eddie phoned up President Truman and said he had to come and see him. Truman’s officials tried to block the meeting, but Truman said “This is my old friend, Eddie, from school, Eddie, from the Army, Eddie, from our shop together! How can I not see this man?”

When Eddie arrived at the White House, Truman said “Eddie, you can talk to me about anything, except Israel.” “Okay”, said Eddie and he stood in the Oval Office, in front of the president of the United States, and began to cry. “Eddie, why are you crying?” asked the president. Eddie pointed to a marble statue in the room and said, “Who is that, Harry?” “That’s my hero, Andrew Jackson”, Truman replied. “You really admire this man?” asked Eddie. “Yes.” “And he had an influence over you?” “Yes” said Truman. Then, said Eddie, “I have a hero. His name is Chaim Weizmann. Harry, for my sake, see this man.” Harry looked at Eddie and he knew that he couldn’t say no to his old friend. That is how Chaim Weizmann got to see president Harry S. Truman, and that is how America voted in favor of the creation of the State of Israel. If they had not voted, Israel would not have been brought into being. What’s more, Harry S. Truman made the United States the first country in the world to recognize this State when David Ben Gurion pronounced it.

We don’t know exactly how the Lord writes the script of history, but if it can happen to Eddie Jacobson it can happen to any one of us. The Lord Jesus Christ is calling on each of us, saying there is a reason why we are here, because He has something for us to do, something that only we can do. Did Esther, growing up with Mordechai, know that one day, the entire future of the Jewish people will rest with her? You never know what significance one friendship, or one little moment might have for you and for somebody else that might just change the world.

We must always ask ourselves, what does the Lord want of me in this place, at this time? Because there is always something He wants of us, and we don’t have to be anyone special to have a sacred task. We can just be an orphan called Esther, or a simple man called Eddie, and yet, somehow or another, our acts might have consequences that we cannot even begin to imagine
When Hashem calls, may each of us have the courage to say to ‘Hineini, Here I am, Lord, tell me what to do and I will do it.’ May we all go out into the world, walking tall as Judeo-Christians, walking unafraid, and may we be true to our faith and a blessing to others regardless of their faith or faithlessness. May we hear the call of Christ, carry our Cross and follow Him in serving the world. May we all bring blessing to the world.

Blessed Christ-Shalom on this Purim, 2019 😊

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