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Purim: The gentle power of a loving family

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The Chief Rabbi’s D’var Torah for Purim 2021


The Megillah is a tale of two families. It is clear from the Biblical text that Haman didn’t act in a vacuum. His family were his partners in his evil plan and its intended implementation. That is why ten of his sons were hanged on the very gallows that were built for the Jewish people.


The Midrash tells us that Haman had 360 advisers, and chief among them all was his wife Zeresh. She was the one who led the others in recommending to him that the gallows be built in order to hang our nation and thereby to annihilate us.

The Targum describes chillingly how, while the gallows were being built, Zeresh stood alongside the builders, playing a musical instrument and rejoicing in what she believed was just about to happen.

Contrast this with a different family.

A baby girl

In the saddest of circumstances a little baby girl was born. Her father had died after her mother fell pregnant and her mother died in childbirth. She was Esther.

She was adopted lovingly by her cousin Mordechai. How moving it is to read that when Esther was in the king’s palace, Mordechai would come every single day to the palace gates to enquire after her welfare.

The end of the Megillah is very revealing. It is full of accolades to Mordechai. We read:

“Mordechai hayehudi mishneh lemelech Achashveirosh,” – “Mordechai the Jew was second only to Achashveirosh,”

“V’gadol laYehudim,” – “and great for the Jewish people,”

“V’ratzui l’rov echav,” – “and popular amongst the majority of his brethren,”

“Doresh tov l’amo,” – “He only wanted the best for his people,”

“V’dover shalom lechol zaroh,” – “And got on peacefully with all his descendants.”


Isn’t that extraordinary? The Megillah is our most comprehensive and important biblical textbook about Jewish survival but the bottom line of it all is about family. Mordechai got on well with all his descendants. Mordechai was a great family man.

What’s so important about that? There’s a profound message here for us. Sadly, we have needed to fight against the ‘Hamans’ of this world time and time again, and with help from God we have prevailed. When it comes to Jewish survival, in addition to our strategies for counteracting the influence and the actions of those Haman-style families, we need to raise Mordechai-style families, because strong Jewish families, will give us all the more chance of guaranteeing our survival.

I wish you all a Purim sameach.



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