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Evil in Stages

Rabbi Stern compares Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Haman, and there’s certainly reason for comparison–but there’s also at least one important difference. In the Purim story, it is striking that Haman displays a level of hatred and arrogance that is unique in Jewish history–which is really saying something.

After being snubbed by Mordecai, Haman immediately hatches and promotes a plan to destroy all the Jews. This is in contrast with other Biblical archenemies like Pharaoh and historical figures like Hitler, and, I would argue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. None of these other figures jump immediately to the place of genocide, or at least that’s not the seeming intention. At first Pharaoh ‘merely’ enslaved the Jews and Hitler ‘just’ persecuted the Jews and took away their rights; the road that led to a plan to annihilate the Jews was gradual. Ahmadinejad, too, does not openly state an intention to wipe out all Jews–he ‘only’ wants to wipe the State of Israel off the map, after which, officially at least, Jews will be allowed to remain as Palestinian citizens (so, too, is the stated position of Hamas, at least regarding those Jews who lived in the area before 1948).


Of course, all of these positions eventually morph into a desire to annihilate the Jews–and it would come as no surprise if Ahmadinejad were to follow his predecessors in that direction. But there is a subtlety to the incremental approach, and Ahmadinejad has learned it well.

Haman, and his forerunners, Amalek, are unique in going immediately to the place of annihilation. Perhaps this is why the Purim story is farce: It’s hard to imagine this tactic working in the real world. Haman is ultimately a clown and buffoon at whom we can laugh. The greater danger comes from the subtler, incremental approach of Pharaoh, Hitler, and Ahmadinejad.

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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted February 28, 2007 at 10:17 pm

Rabbi Waxman, does the spirit of Haman and the Amaleks only have to focus on Jews? Doesn’t the situation in in Darfur have the same flavor and feel as the spirit of Haman and the Amaleks? Does G-d’s command to remember what was done to us only apply to us? Are we also to remember and to act when we see other humans suffer the same? Shalom.

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posted March 2, 2007 at 12:38 am

Grethel, Your spirit is impressive(and your posts as well) but this time you made a goof. Namely, would that the situation in darfur was happening to jews, would the world notice? They didn’t during WWII, they didn’t really say much when those soldiers were killed and kidnapped on the edge of gaza and in Golan. Only when the Army of Israel invaded to protect its sovereignty, and get back its captured(and likely dead) soldiers, did the world notice. It certainly didn’t notice when they gave up Joseph’s Tomb, and the Palestinians promptly built a mosque and declared that there never was a reason for a ‘jewish presence” there. I’ve said it before and will say it forever that if they can’t be civil they(the “palestinians”) need to leave or be “removed” and told not to come back. Treat them like the errant children they are!

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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 2, 2007 at 1:52 am

All the more reason for us Jews to be active voices pushing for human rights–for all of God’s creatures. Blessed be the True Judge! I feel uncomfortable labeling an entire group of folks based on the actions of a sample of the group. Oi! Should I judge our people based on the Jews who met with the group who deny the Holocaust, eh? I should hope note! What about the Compassionate Listening Project? What about Palestinians who are supportive of us? Sorry. I don’t see the goof! Torah is clear. All of humankind is created in the image of HaShem. Then, again. Two Jews; three views! 😉 Shalom!

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posted March 4, 2007 at 12:04 am

Isn’t it interesting that with all the anti-Xtian people who post here, none have mentioned a Xtian alternate to Ahmadinejad as today’s Haman?

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