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The Real Purim Villain

posted by Virtual Talmud

I disagree with Rabbi Waxman’s suggestion that what distinguishes Haman from the historic villain Hitler or today’s Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is that Haman jumped to the chase in seeking the total annihilation of the Jewish people immediately, rather than taking intermediate steps towards that goal.

A close reading of the Book of Esther shows that Haman had an inner and external agenda, much like Hitler and Ahmadinejad. Read Chapter Three of the Book of Esther very carefully and you will find that while Haman decides early on that he wants to destroy all the Jews, he must still go about making a case for the slaughter with the King. Haman begins slowly, explaining to the King that there is among all the religions of his kingdom only one that is different, and that this different religion does not follow the King’s laws.

Only once Haman is able to set the Jew apart as “other” does he advance his plans for ridding the empire of them. As a group of people, he has successfully identified them as a danger to the State. He even adds in the economic factor of taking over Jewish property. Hitler could have taken his cues from Haman’s own game plan. Ahmadinejad’s focus on destroying Israel is similar, a sop to Palestinians who think all their problems will be solved if they could only have the land of Israel. (The debacle of Palestinian civil strife in Gaza is clear evidence to the contrary.)

What frightens me most is not the modern analogy to Haman but to King Ahashverus. My fear stems from more than the fact that Ahashverus is easily taken in by Haman’s ploy; it is that he seems to listen only with half an ear to Haman’s manipulations in Chapter Three. You can almost see Ahashverus waving his hand dismissively as he tells Haman to take the money and do what he wants with the people (our people!). The slaughter of millions just doesn’t matter to him since it doesn’t affect his palace life or the security of his throne.

The real enemy is not Haman, but those people who allow him–and those like him throughout history–to pursue their nefarious goal of slaughter just because it does not immediately matter to them.

– Posted by Rabbi Susan Grossman



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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 1, 2007 at 3:08 pm


As posted: “The real enemy is not Haman, but those people who allow him–and those like him throughout history–to pursue their nefarious goal of slaughter just because it does not immediately matter to them. — Posted by Rabbi Susan Grossman” I couldn’t agree more! Thank you, Rabbi Grossman, for posting this. Shalom!



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Ivy

posted March 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm


Thank you so much for this. You have touched on my greatest fear: not the scary monsters and super-creeps, but the “nice, ordinary” people who make such things possible. Unthinking obedience and passive participation in oppression and genocide is exactly where such villains get their catastrophic power. What you said needs to be read and understood. Thank you for saying it very well.



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HeatherR

posted March 1, 2007 at 7:27 pm


Here, here. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”



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Kurt

posted March 2, 2007 at 5:11 am


Rabbi Grossman: How do we know but that thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?



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Shmuel

posted March 2, 2007 at 4:45 pm


I have a comment that is more geared to the front page rather than this article. I quote… “In the spirit of the rabbinic tradition, Beliefnet has asked three rabbis to create a virtual Talmud, blogging on Judaism and the world today. Unlike the talmudic arguments of old, the interactivity of Virtual Talmud makes it possible for any member of our community to talk back to the learned teachers and to each other. Read on, and let the rabbis know what you think!” End quote. My question is, where are the Rabbi’s? I don’t see any Rabbi’s here. I see three foolish people who have less understanding of Torah & Judaism than my 5 year old nephew. What a shame. Rabbi Susan(sic) Grossman??? I think that says it all. King Solomon taught us “answer a fool according to his folly”. & so I shall. I am sure there are those who will be shocked by how strong I come on, but remember, it is not I that has taken the meaning of the word “Rabbi” & twisted it on it’s ear.



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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 2, 2007 at 5:49 pm


Shmuel, I suppose you also have an issue with Deborah and Miriam? I most certainly do not know the amount of Torah that you or your nephew know. However, I do know certain aspects of Torah. These aspects of Torah do not line up with the lashon hara that I see present in the above post. ***Praise are you, L-rd our G-d, Ruler of the Universe whose mitzvot add holiness to our lives and who gave us the mitzvah of studying the words of Torah*** The aspects of Torah are found in the prayer book which I am more familar with–The New Union Prayer Book, Central Conference of American Rabbis–on page 698. As stated there: “When Torah entered the world, freedom entered it. The whole Torah exists only to establish peace. Its first and last aim is to teach love and kindness. What is hateful to you, do not do to others.” Then, in the Siddur Sim Shalom–The Rabbinical Assembly, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism– on page 9 is stated: “You shall be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy. You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block before the blind. You shall not render an unjust decision; do not be partial to the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor. You shall not hate your neighbor in your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. and on page 19 the Siddur Sim Shalom states, “‘To walk in all His ways.’ {Deuteronomy 11:22). These are the ways of the Holy One: ‘gracious and compassionate, patient, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, assuring love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and granting pardon…’ {Exodus 34:6}. This means that just as God is gracious and compassionate, you too must be gracious and compassionate. “The Lord is faitfhul in all His ways and loving in all His deeds.” {Psalm 145:17}. As the Holy One is faithful, you too must be faithful. As the Holy One is loving, you too must be loving. ***Sifre Deuteronomy, Ekev” Shalom!



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Billy Gage/Midas Welby

posted March 2, 2007 at 6:34 pm


Thank God others see it, too. I have been telling anyone who would listen that this has been going on here ever since 9/11/2001. The way 90% of the population was so easily transformed into a mob, frothing at the mouth for revenge. I have been disgraced by so many of my Christian brethren through all of this, and can’t get them to see how this whole war has been led by evil, and not by God. I shall now break down and read the whole of Esther. Thank you for this and so much more.



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Tzvi

posted March 3, 2007 at 12:15 am


Shmuel, To add to what grethel Jane and others have said Torah also states that :”though shat not oppress the Orphan, the widow or the stranger among you, for you were strangers in Egypt”(Deut.) Sometimes Torah is not enough, then Philosphy and other things fill in the gaps. I may not be able to recite Torah verbatim, but I see 3 rabbis, trying to openly debate issues of the day, and make being jewish relevent to our lives. Torah is nice, but there’s more to life than Tanach. I’d definitly reccomend the book “Standing again at Sinai” By Judith Plaskow, or even better ANYTHING written by Martin Buber or A.J. Heschel. B’shalom Tzvi



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Scott

posted March 3, 2007 at 1:12 am


I would listen to Rabbi Susan over Shmuel any day.



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Scott

posted March 3, 2007 at 1:13 am


And what’s wrong with Rabbi Stern – he isn’t charedi enough?



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Shmuel

posted March 4, 2007 at 8:58 am


Unfortunately people here are missing the point. G-D’s word (the Torah) is perfection. When people come along & try to alter the Torah in ways such as what is being done over here they are the classic example of what the Chashmonim fought against. What Jewish people who have good in their heart & G-D on their mind have fought for. I came to this site the other day for the first time. I was intrigued by the title “virtual Talmud” I figured, how nice. I was going to view Talmudic discussions when lo & to my horror I found something very anti Talmud. The Talmud states “poraits geder yashchenu nuhchush” (roughly translated, it means one who breaks a fence, the snake will bite him) I am asked if I would have a problem with Dihvorah & Miriam. Chas Vihshalom. These were two wonderful righteous women. They were not Rabbi’s nor did they claim to be. They were not anti Torah. Maybe do study what our Holy books teach about these wonderful women & get a picture of a true Aishes Chayil. I pray that our women all be like them. To the person who asked about Eliyahu Stern. I can’t speak about his personal level of observance, but he has violated the ban. I think that says it right there. He is not greater than the Rabbi’s who issued this ban. They did not do it with an easy heart but as a protection. I am sorry to say that he is a poraitz geder. G-D’s problem is with people who think they know better than G-D. The conservative movement is a movement that is anti Torah because it uses it’s own judgement to try to be smarter than G-D. Adam made the same mistake & we are still imperfect from that very day. King Saul also made the same mistake & he lost his kingdom. How many of us have to suffer till we learn this lesson? Do you think that it is mere coincidence that out of germany came the nazi’s? This is the same place that was the source of “the enlightenment”. (which was the forrunner of the reform movement) I say this not out of hatred but out of love & fear. Love for my Jewish brothers & fear for their wellbeing both spiritually & materially. I don’t hate Mrs. Grossman or Mr. Waxman or Mr. Stern. I feel pity for them. However at the same time I am scared of them. Just as a person is scared of a fire that comes to harm them. We Jews have our fate in our own hands. This was the blessing Isaac gave Esau. Only when we rebel can Esau harm us. The Rabbi’s have made it clear that it is forbidden to dialogue with either the reform or conservative movement (not to mention reconstructionist) not because we hate those people but because we know that they are the danger to the very survival of our people. The problem with the above stated movements is whilst some (perhaps even most) of it’s members may be halachikly Jewish, the movement is not. Remember, Jewish accoutrements is not what makes it Jewish. Christianity has that too & I doubt anybody here would consider Christianity to be a Jewish movement. (except persons for the jews for jesus) However if the people in the reform, conservative, reconstructionist etc.. repent, of course they would be welcomed back into the Jewish community. People here speak to me of peace. Remember, it is not the Orthodox who broke with Judaism. We are not the one who tore apart our people. If you are honset enough intellectually, look into the history of this. See if I am telling the truth or not. Tell me one conservative or reform etc… person today (with complete Jewish ancestry) who can tell me that his 10th generation ancestor was not an Orthodox Jew. I am not against peace. I both pray & try to promote it all the time. But one must have peace with something. If we are all dead, (due to G-D exterminating us because of poratiz geder yashchenu nuhchush) what good will peace be? Remember, I say this because I care about every individual Jew & when I see a Jew in pain it is my own pain. Yes, G-D is indeed compassionate. But He punishes too. Make no mistake on this. If we fail to take this lesson to heart we will only be made to suffer again till we do take it to heart. Perhaps read the “tohchihchuh”. This is what the Torah teaches. What I find quite relavent to me today is that it actually warns us with an uncanny description of the holocaust if we fail to learn the lesson. Something we can all relate to on a very personal basis. I say to you, look at your own past. Look at our collective past. Look at the story of Purim. When we defied the Torah by eating with the Goyim (even after being warned by Mordechai not to do so) we were almost destroyed. When we returned to following the Torah, this is what saved us. THIS is the true lesson of Purim. Everything else is commentary. Have a wonderful Purim to all my fellow Jews.



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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm


Sorry, Shmuel. I am not easily moved by emotional appeal, fallacies, or fundamentalism. {I come from a very Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic background–I was Christian.} “I love you” and “be afraid” are not motivating factors for me when someone is attempting to “preach” to me. I am good at spotting “red warning signs.” I would have to be 100% sure that the person was a prophet–and I clearly do not fall that easily into believing someone is a prophet. How long ago has it been when G-d used a prophet? I say to you, Shmuel, that you are not a prophet. A friend just recently gave me a book to read that is quite an eye opener. {My friend attended JTS for quite a while.} Chaper 2 of this book explains what fundamentalism is–there is no difference between Christian, Muslim, or Jewish fundamentalism, IMHO. The book? Reading the Book, Making the Bible a Timeless Text by Burton L. Visotzsky. Shalom, Geulah bat Avraham Avinu v’ Sarah Imenu



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David

posted March 4, 2007 at 5:17 pm


1/ As someone who was Bar Mitzvahd in a Reform ‘temple’ I think reference to the ‘Union Prayer Book’ or ‘Gates of Prayer’ (the most recent one I read uses quotes from the KJV bible) is about as useful to a Jew as reading Anita Diamant as, er, gospel. 2/ As to Buber-why would anyone use as an authority someone who intentionally wrote in a way as to not to be understood?



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Shmuel

posted March 4, 2007 at 5:25 pm


I never claimed to be a prophet. I have stated the Torah’s point of view. If you are a convert than you should know that you must study halacha. Our Torah is a book of teaching which includes our laws. Open up a Shulchan Uhrooch & see. I am not the one who said we are held accountable by G-D for our actions. G-D is. As I said in my earlier post. Read the Tohchihchuh. Actually, read the Torah entire. The Torah speaks of both reward & punishment for our actions. If you are married, ask your husband what Chazal say regarding this in the Talmud & other places. If not, go to an Orthodox Rabbi. (the only Rabbis there are) I wish I was making this up. But you can verify this yourself if you do not believe me. One more thing. Chazal ARE our prophets. Perhaps not as seers, but in their Divine wisdom. As far as love is concerned. This too comes to me from our Holy Torah. The Torah says, “vihuhavtuh lihrayahchuh kuhmochuh”. I take both this commandment very seriously & personally. I also feel a kinship of love for my fellow Jew that I can’t explain because it is an emotion. If I see a Jew hurting I try my best to help. This comes not just as a courtesy but because of love. You do not know me personally, so for you to just push it aside is quite unbecoming. You as a convert to Judaism should feel this more keenly than others. (I hope your conversion was done according to hahluhchuh through the auspices of an Orthodox Bais Deen) In conclusion, I can’t “move” anybody who does not choose to be moved, but I can try. I try.



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Scott R.

posted March 4, 2007 at 5:37 pm


However if the people in the reform, conservative, reconstructionist etc.. repent, of course they would be welcomed back into the Jewish community. Gosh, no one ever told us we were out of the “Jewish community”. We were just told we weren’t practicing Judaism correctly. You want to hear the sound of pure, unadulterated hatred – listen to an Orthodox Jew speak about one who is not. The speak of us as I wouldn’t dare speak of a Nazi. We broke into more than one community a long time ago, and I don’t think I would want to go back to being one. I done want to break bread with people who hate me and my children.



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Scott R.

posted March 4, 2007 at 5:38 pm


Correction: I don’t want to break bread with people who hate me and my children.



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Tzvi

posted March 4, 2007 at 7:18 pm


David: you wrote >2/ As to Buber-why would anyone use >as an authority someone who >intentionally wrote in a way as to >not to be understood? Actually Buber buber tried to make jewish ideas MORE understood. He was behind translating Tanach into German for the masses, he was behind bringing the ideas of the Hasidim of the 1700′s into the modern erea, and making it easy to understand for the masses(if you don’t believe me, try reading TALES OF THE HASIDIM, which actually is one of his easier reads) And if Buber isn’t your thing there are other Well written books by OTHER Jewish Existentialisist writers(file under Religious Existentialism). In this case, I think of G-d as someone/something more than a force in the universe pushing us to do good, and not quite a king, or a Lord, who is far removed from his people, but as a traveler, concerned about us, who goes with us, sustaining us, and acting as a partner in the act of creation, needing us as much as we need Him/her/it. To borrow from one of my christian friends:”Even G-d needs us, as much as we need G-d”.



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Tzvi

posted March 4, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Shmuel, you write: >If you are a convert than you should >know that you must study halacha. >Our Torah is a book of teaching >which includes our laws. Open up a >Shulchan Uhrooch & see. Halacha, is more than laws, its also the “customs” and the Customs of a place(makom) bear the full weight of law. If you don’t believe that, then look to the ruling that per Rambam, Sephardic jews can eat rice and Corn durig Pesach, while Askenazi cannot. The Shulchan Aruch, (literally “the Set Table)was a book to codify and coordinate the laws that different communities had set together, and assembled by Rabbi karo in the 1500′s and at its time was a revolutionary work, but was highly critisized by other well known rabbis of that period, specifically Rabbi Moses Isserles and others. which goes back to the fact that if the law was perfect we wouldn’t need commentaries on the comentaries of the Comentairies…which gets rather odd.



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Tzvi

posted March 4, 2007 at 7:45 pm


Scott, you wrote: >I don’t want to break bread with >people who hate me and my children. I am unique among most jews i’ve known…was originally conservative, had a Bar Mitzvah in a reform synagogue, Studied Religious History, with a consentration in Jewish History, Did an internship with the Local Jewish Historical Society, and I have broken bread with all types of jews from Athiests to High haredi, and I have learned that its not one’s devotion to the law that counts. There’s an old hasidic story that Goes that Rabbi Zusa was on his deathbed, and nearing the end of existence and he began to weap. His disciples were surpised and hasked their master why he was crying. The Rabbi responded that he he knew that when he arrived to the heavenly court, that were he asked why was he not like Moses, or Abraham, or Aaron, the peacemaker, or any of the other great jews from history he had an answer; but the one question he could not answer was why he was not more Zusa. The idea being that why he was not the most and best person he could be, that he did not live to his FULLEST potential. I’d like to hope that while i may not have been the peacemaker that Aaron was, or as patient as Moses, or as strong in my faith at all times like Abraham, that I have done my part to make the world a better place. I would think that the goal Torah is to make us as people better people, and our community as good as we can and to extend that outward making the world the best place it can be(Idea was an extension of those put forth by Rav Kook in OROT HA TESHUVAH)



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Scott R.

posted March 4, 2007 at 8:10 pm


Tzvi, I have never encountered such hatred as I have encountered from certain Orthodox posters on Beliefnet. They treat us as worse than Nazis. If this is what the real world is like as well, I am more than willing to throw up my hands and say “we’re two people, let’s move on”.



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Scott R.

posted March 4, 2007 at 8:12 pm


And what ban did Rabbi Stern violate?



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Tzvi

posted March 4, 2007 at 8:30 pm


And as a closing thought to my last post, one of my most memorable encounters with G-d, happened one night in college, It was shabbat, and i was with a friend who knew about my orientation, but liked me as a person, regardless. he had invited me to services with him at one of the oldest Orthodox Synagoges in new Brunswick…and i remember going back to his apartment after services and him having nothing to eat but a tin of sardines. I enjoyed his company and his utter lack of pretension, that to me the shared sardies were as sumptious and filling as if I had been at a banquet for some high official. The thing was that he was a good person, who B”h, was truly in the moment, who was both G-d fearing and at the same time someone who was part of humanity, and not seperate from it. In that moment, though not fully recognised at the time, I “encountered” G-d, like Moses, but unlike Moses I didn’t recognise it at the time.



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Tzvi

posted March 4, 2007 at 8:35 pm


probably one that says that they can’t talk with “idolators, heretics, and the like” which is what the Haredi consider the “non-haredi”



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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 5, 2007 at 2:36 am


Shmuel, I do not look to Orthodox as “saviors” of the entire Jewish community, and I have a bad taste in my mouth when Orthodox begin to speak about how much “Orthodox” has done for the Jewish community. When I converted, I made my stand to love HaShem will all my mind, strength, and being–not a Orthodox “religious institution” or movement. I made a stand to be commited to the peoplehood of Israel–that includes every Jew, not just Orthodox. Futhermore, when I pray every Shabbat morning along with my shul mates and Rabbi, these words are uttered: “No king is saved by the power of his arms, no warrior by reason of his strength. The war-horse will not help you; for all its strength it cannot save. Therefore, we trust in the Lord; He is our Help and our Shield. In Him will we rejoice; in His holy being will we trust.” (From the Gates of Prayer} You know what, I take this very seriously! Orthodox Judaism is not our Help and Our Shield; G-d is–Adonai Echad. Orthodox can keep on telling us how much they have done and how much they have sacrificed, but G-d has explained through the Prophets that sacrifices are not what G-d has desired! If any Jew should repent, he or she should repent to HaShem alone–not an organized religion of any kind. Shalom!



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Dave

posted March 5, 2007 at 5:03 pm


1/ I can understand Schneerson in translation very easily-and he really brought Chasidism into the mondern era, and during his life was surrounded by masses. Buber the non-Chasisd is taught only in philosphy classes, by people who speak a very strange version of English-one that is designed NOT to be understood by the masses (if it could be understood by the msasses why would it need to be taught)? 2/ As a non-O I much appreciate most of the criticisms by the O’s against the non-O’s. IMO the R’s and C’s should just take it because we deserve it. Do you really think the Orthodox, especially the Lubavitchers, only get funding and support from their own kind?



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Scott R.

posted March 5, 2007 at 8:06 pm


Excuse me – we deserve it? Oh please explain, great sage. And about the funding – if they’re going to hurt us, we should cut them off. They need the donations because many only study. Let them feel free to attack us. But let them do without as well.



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Tzvi

posted March 5, 2007 at 9:00 pm


Dave, you write: >1/ I can understand Schneerson in >translation very easily-and he really >brought Chasidism into the mondern era, >and during his life was surrounded by >masses. Buber the non-Chasisd is taught >only in philosphy classes, by people >who speak a very strange version of >English-one that is designed NOT to be >understood by the masses (if it could >be understood by the msasses why would >it need to be taught)? Buber is not “taught” per se. Philosophy as a discipline is something that some of us find facinating… Remember, Rabbi Schneerson many spoke to other Hassidim, and you said it yourself IN TRANSLATION. Language is rather in exact, and when you translate from one language toanother something always get lost. I take it you never even TRIED reading buber. If he is way more above the obvious level that you are at(I’m guessing that of maybe an american 8th grade student), then Heschel might be more your speed. he also was a Scholar in his own right, before coming to the USA, and he wrote in a very plain form that is VERY understandable and NOT in translation. As for Philosophy being in a strange form of English, I’d therefore have to declare myself BILINGUAL, as I do understand Buber, and other Jewish Philosophers.



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lori

posted March 5, 2007 at 9:21 pm


i couldnt agree more God blessyou



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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 5, 2007 at 9:52 pm


Okay, enough is enough! I think we all have expressed how we feel. The topic is “Haman” and where the discussion has done will not help us focus on the “Hamans” of the world–it will only lead to helping the “Hamans.” We are all Jews; let us not forget, eh? There’s a Chabad article that I really like because of what it says. Perhaps others will read it? Here’s the article: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template.asp?AID=4476 And what is wrong with supporting one another? Are there restrictions on mitzvot now? And do we discriminate upon who is a fellow Jew and who isn’t? Oi Gevalt! Shalom!



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Grethel Jane Rickman

posted March 5, 2007 at 9:55 pm


Sorry, I have explained that I have trouble typing and writing. I said this: “The topic is “Haman” and where the discussion has done will not help us focus on the “Hamans” of the world–it will only lead to helping the “Hamans.” We are all Jews; let us not forget, eh?” I meant: “The topic is Haman, and where the discussion has gone will not help us focus…” Sorry, ya’ll. Shalom!



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Tzvi

posted March 6, 2007 at 2:25 am


Here here grethel. Humans tend to like labels and labling. but you are right, the topic was about haman, and the Haman’s of the world. We ALLOWED one person to derail us,and change our focus. In a way, we lost sight of where we were going and went were we didn’t need to be…for what purpose? If Torah is intended to begin to give order to life, and a starting point for directions, then Chaos, or Entropy is a “Haman” no matter where it comes from.



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