One of the basic tenets of Judaism is that nothing happens ‘by accident’. It is no coincidence that the Jewish holiday of Purim falls smack in the middle of the election race in Quebec. No matter how one looks at what is happening these days in our province, one thing is certain: both sides are fighting for the future. What happens on election night will determine which direction this province will take. The stakes are high.
The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, this year Sunday March 16. It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”
Purim is a noisy festival. Every time Haman (the antagonist) is mentioned in the reading of the Megilla* the children try to drown his name out with noise. He was the embodiment of evil. But why try to drown out his name with noise? After all, it’s an old story, which happened long ago.
Noise is a symbol of tension and conflict. Tension is a time of confusion when the lines between good and evil are blurred and an eroded value system invades our minds. And this is what we are holding here in our beloved province of Quebec – in a time of loud noise, tension and conflict.
Most people strive for morality and inspiration, trying to create an awareness of a higher purpose. They try to take the high road. They do not bend to the lowest common denominator using devious means to achieve their end.
There are times in our lives when good is hard to see, when hope is clouded over, when morale is low. When it appears that evil will triumph over good. Purim comes to tell us that, even in times of turmoil, tension and very loud, ugly voices, we must not lose hope.
We drown out the noise of Haman even today because, as Jews, our Torah is not a history lesson. Nor is wearing a kippah. It’s not a thing of the past, nor is it a meaningless piece of cloth. It is a constant reminder that there is someone higher than we who runs our world.
Torah is a living, breathing entity. We run our lives by it. It gives us morality, purpose and shows us right from wrong.
Madame Marois may want a ‘secular’ society to achieve whatever end game she has in mind, but she is forgetting a very important piece of information. Nothing is happenstance. There is a G-d and He runs the world. And therefore we have nothing to fear but G-d Himself. Not Madame Marois, not M. Drainville and not M. Lisée. We may be uncomfortable with some of the tests thrown at us, but we know that, in the end, the ‘truth will out’. It has been proven over and over again in history, as it was in the story of Purim.
The true meaning and purpose in our world is peace and harmony, where illness will be eradicated and swords will turn into plowshares.
We must band together, take our current challenge and turn it into an opportunity to make our four cubits a better place to live. We must become stronger human beings with greater meaning and an even stronger purpose. We must take back our province and make it a wonderful, peaceful and honest place to live.
*The Megilla is one of five books of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) that are appointed to be read on certain Jewish notable days. The Megilla, the Book of Esther, is read at the festival of Purim.