Prayer: Purim and Ukraine Have Some Similarities
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Prayer: Purim and Ukraine Have Some Similarities

Haman is promoted to be a dictator under the king, an autocrat, just as Putin is today.

Allen H. Lipis
Allen H. Lipis

This week, we will celebrate the holiday of Purim. A key element in the story is Haman, the evil enemy of the Jews. Haman is promoted to be a dictator under the king, an autocrat, just as Putin is today. Everyone is told to bow down to Haman just as Putin is trying to get Ukraine to do. As you may recall, one person, Mordechai, the leading Jew in his time, and the uncle of Queen Esther, refuses to bow down to Haman. Ukraine is today’s Mordechai.

Haman then speaks to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from every other people’s, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” As a result, the king gives Haman permission to kill all the Jews.

What is going on in Ukraine has some similarities. Haman today is Putin, the autocrat of Russia, who wants Ukraine to bow down to him. They refuse, just as Mordechai in the Purim story refuses. Once again, we see that autocrats want total control over the people, whomever they may be, and have them bow down to his total control. Ukraine has refused and wants to be a separate country with their own rules, and they do not want to observe Putin’s laws.

What we have on the world stage today is a country that wants democracy, not autocracy, a country that wants to move in its own way that is different than Russia. That has a ring of truth for us Jews, because we have our own ways of living in terms of how we pray, what we eat, and even how we dress.

Dictators like Putin want total control, and the fight the world is in now is about Democracy versus Fascism, freedom versus autocracy. We Jews have been fighting this battle for freedom for centuries, and it is interesting that the man in charge of Ukraine is a Jew himself, the Mordechai of our times. We are often attacked because we are different.

The Purim story is, of course, quite different than Ukraine’s war today. The Purim story took nine years to unfold, five of them under the control of a Haman. Let us hope the story of Ukraine is resolved much more quickly, but no one now can tell. What we do know is that the battle for freedom is never won easily or quickly. I hope that the deciding king in today’s battle is NATO, the power of Western Europe and the U.S., is more powerful than Putin, and they are supporting Ukraine to fight for freedom as we Jews have fought for freedom again and again.

In the Purim story, Mordechai is honored by the king and Haman is despondent. When he tells his wife what happened, she says, “If Mordechai is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him, but will undoubtedly fall before him.” Haman is hanged along with all of his children. So may it be for President Zelensky of Ukraine, that he will prevail over Putin and all his bureaucrats.

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