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Will We Survive?

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

The prolific author and orator Rabbi Dr. Akiva Tatz sheds an interesting light on the question of the survival of the Judaism and the Jewish people. Professionals involved in Jewish Outreach often view their mission as ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people and Judaism.

Rabbi Tatz views this as a fundamental mistake. He reasons as follows: The eternity of the Jewish people and the Torah has been guaranteed by God and is God’s ‘problem’ and not ours. He has promised and will clearly fulfill his promise. Our purpose is not to ensure the continuity of the Jewish people, but rather to ensure that ourselves, our descendants and the broader Jewish community remain connected to Judaism and the Jewish people. The spiritual destiny of our nation is a fait accompli, our own individual survival and connection is what is in question.

It occurred to me that a dialogue in Megilat Esther supports this line of thinking. Mordechai implores Esther to approach King Achashveirosh on behalf of the Jewish people. Esther responds that this would be going against the royal protocol, which was a capital offense. Mordechai’s response is fascinating: ‘Do not imagine for one moment that you will escape from the fate of the Jews in the King’s home. Because if you are silent at this time, salvation will arise for the Jews from another source, and you and your father’s house will be destroyed…’ Mordechai is effectively telling Esther that the Jewish people will be saved with or without you. Nonetheless he explains to her for her own personal benefit and for that of her family to choose to be a link in the chain of Jewish continuity and tradition.

Friends, perhaps then the question of Purim is not one of the survival of the Jewish People, but rather the question of our willingness to connect ourselves, our children and others to the eternal, spiritual Jewish nation. Let us use this Purim holiday to ponder upon our unique calling in this regard.