Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
We Are All Esther - Times of Israel
On the Fast of Esther, I think of Esther 8:6, as Esther begs the king to send out an order reversing Haman’s decree extermination of the Jews, and she says, “How can I look on while my people are being destroyed?”
That verse explains how so many Jews are feeling these days, about Iran especially, but also about other existential threats to Israel, including global anti-semitism and, for many, the weakening of democratic as well as Jewish values. People differ on 1) exactly what those threats are and 2) the best way to address them, but there is absolute agreement that the dangers are so great that they can’t be ignored. We can not just look on.
With Iran, for those who are actually listening and reflecting, as I have been, we are humbled by how fateful will be the choices that lie in the immediate future, for Israel, America and the world. It is clear to many (including me) that any choice involves significant risk. But in the current atmosphere, to express doubt is to show weakness to the other side, and by “other side” I do not mean simply Iran.
So let’s just recognize that right now, all of us are Esther. That means we are on the same side. Let us listen to reasoned alternatives and play them out, as to what will leave us in the best position a month from now and a decade after that. And let’s have a little humility, people. If we recognize that we are all Esther, we’ll see as well that there is no “other side.”