Monday, March 17, 2008

modern day fanatics compared to Mordechai

A Guest Post by Rafi G.

Purim is coming. We all know what it represents and we are all familiar with the miracles and the salvation.

I was thinking about Purim and I realized that Purim has something similar with other Jewish holidays. Mostly it is similar to Hannukah, in that we were miraculously saved, against all odds, from enemies that tried to wipe us out. But is also similar to Pesach, in the sense that Pesach also represents that, as as others holidays to more or lesser extents. As the saying goes to briefly describe all Jewish holidays, "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat!"

Thinking about the Purim story, and all the other holidays, and the thought struck me that we are really celebrating what we would nowadays decry as fanaticism and extremism.

Today we look at the crazies in RBS B (and other places) and call them crazies. They think of themselves as modern day Mordechais, modern day Mattisyahus, etc. They are trying to save Klal Yisrael with keeping it authentic and staying away from modernity (Hellenism?). We look at the Rabbonim who ban everything that moves without asking first for permission and think of them as antiquated and controlling.

We reject their notions, call them crazies, sometimes protest against them.

I imagine that in the days of Mordechai HaTzaddik, most people were mumbling to themselves, "Why does that Mordechai guy have to make so much trouble for us? Can't he just bow down to Haman like the rest of us and get it out of the way? Why does he rock the boat? Does he think God speaks to him more than to us? All he does is make trouble, while we just want to be left alone to live our own lives quietly. Why does he have to be sucha fanatic and make trouble for the rest of us?" and other things like that.

During the days of Hannukah, most people probably said, "Those Maccabim! Nothing but fanatics and extremists! All they do is make trouble for us. We are happy under Greek rule, living our lives, earning a decent living, minding our own business, but this Mattisyahu and his gang of zealots can't seem to leave things be. They rock the boat and make trouble for everyone" and thing like that.

Then, after history looks back on these stories and events, they became holidays and everybody celebrated, and celebrates, the victory of the few crazies, the few fanatics and zealots, over the goyim.

So, while we are rejecting modern day fanatics and zealots, we are, at the same time, celebrating the fanatics and zealots of old.

How do you reconcile that? What are your thoughts?

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