Purim is the holiday for the post-Holocaust world; it is the model for the experience of redemption in the rebirth of Israel. In this era, too, the redemption is flawed--by the narrow escape, by the great loss of life, by the officially "irreligious" nature of the leadership, by the mixed motives and characters of those who carried it out, by the human suffering it brought in its wake, and by the less-than-perfect society of Israel. In our time, too, the "purists" wait for a "supernatural" miracle. Some object because of the religiously non-observant element; others are crushed by the morally disturbing Arab refugee problem.

Just as doctrinaire feminists get hung up on the "feminine" techniques of Esther, so are ideologues put off by the moral compromises involved in Israel's alliances and by the fact that it now gets support from the Establishment. People preoccupied with the equivocal details miss the overriding validity of the Purim and Israel events, events which occurred when the moral condition of the world needed such redemption, almost at all costs. Similarly, the Martin Luthers of the world are embarrassed by religious miracles that cost blood, so they question the fundamental validity of any divine but all-too-human redemption. The people, Israel, knew then and now better. In an imperfect world, one must be grateful for partial redemption. Celebration inspires the people to perfect that redemption.

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, NJ. Copyright 1998.

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