A Message from the Kalever Rebbe for Purim 5776

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Purim’s Message – The Folly of Reform

My dear precious Jews – How often we have heard the refrain, “we Jews need to be more like the nations of the world in order to normalize relations with them and gain their acceptance of us.” This has become the doctrine of modern “reform” movements within Judaism for the past two hundred years. Alas, both recent and ancient history has put this notion to the lie. And there is perhaps, no better source from which to “assimilate” this poignant lesson than the Purim story we will shortly read about in the Megilla in the course of its public reading on Purim.
The Megillah relates that the day designated for the genocidal destruction of world Jewry, the 13th day of Adar, was miraculously transformed into the very day the Jews rose up to defend themselves and destroy their enemies. However, the Jews who lived in the Persian capital city, Shushan, required an additional day, the 14th of Adar, to complete the task. A disproportionate number of their evil enemies lived in Shushan, as noted in the tally of 800 killed in the capital alone, whereas in all of the thousands of other countries and provinces throughout the empire only an additional 75,000 were slain. Why was the concentration of enemies in Shushan so high?

To understand this phenomenon it is important to note the reason given by our holy Rabbis for the original decree of genocide promulgated by Haman against the Jews of Persia. They explained it was on account of the Jews having participated in, and enjoyed of, the great feast that wicked King Achashveirosh had arranged for his subjects. This constituted a fatal error in judgment on the part of the Jews who convinced themselves that antisemitism was a natural reaction to their isolationism from the nations of the world.

And so they saw the feast as the perfect opportunity to engage in diplomacy and improve their ties with gentile nobility and royalty in order to allay their hatred and reduce persecution of the Jews. Unfortunately, the Jews overindulged in the festivities and in short order, left the sacred path of Torah, Mitzvos and faith in God.

The great Jewish leader, righteous Mordechai, well understood that antisemitism is precisely a mechanism ordained by Heaven to preserve Jewish identity. It is practically a law of nature that “Esau will always hate Jacob” and the more the Jew attempts to befriend him and be like him, the more the hatred grows, to the point of murderous intent.

And so, Mordechai steered in the opposite direction, demonstrating the strength of pure faith in Hashem and his holy Torah, even publicly defying Haman, the most powerful official in the empire. He exhorted the Jews not to participate in the Achashveirosh’s feast nor draw close to the nations of the world. Alas, Mordechai’s prediction bore itself out, for no sooner had the Jews broke bread with the gentiles that they turned on them. The decree of genocide immediately followed and the very “noblemen” they had hoped to befriend turned their evil hearts against them and planned the annihilation of the Jews, to be executed on the 13th day of Adar.

It is therefore no surprise that in the wake of the Jew’s repentance the evil decree was reversed and the Jews prevailed over their enemies. Likewise, it is no surprise, that in the heart of the city where the Jews endeavored to come closest to gentile officialdom, the greatest concentration of enemies abounded, thus requiring an additional day to wipe them out.

We have seen this lesson repeated throughout Jewish history, and most pointedly over the past few hundred years, when “reformers” thought they could cure antisemitism through assimilation with the nations of the world. But sadly and inevitably, reality proved otherwise. It was precisely from the very cradle of cultural and religious reform that the worst antisemitism in our history flowed, the terrible holocaust which had its roots in Germany, the very place where Jewish assimilation was most prevalent. Indeed, there is no gainsaying the Heavenly will.

We must learn this lesson well. We must effectively distance ourselves from the corrupting influences of reform movements that have wrought a spiritual holocaust amongst our people. Like Mordechai the Tzaddik, we too must proudly and publicly commit ourselves to the dissemination and practice of our holy Torah and Mitzvos. And instead of futilely trying to befriend and party with the nations of the world, let us Jews come together to fulfill the Mitzvos of Purim, celebrating with holy feasts and sacred joy our Jewish unity, with love, friendship and common purpose to always follow the path of Torah. Only this can save us from our enemies and bestow upon us all of God’s bountiful blessings.

Wishing you and your families a joyous and meaningful Purim.

Special thanks to Rabbi Avraham Shalom Farber and Yehudah Leib Meth for the translation.

The Kalever Rebbe, Rav Moshe ben Raizel, is very ill and severely limited. Please beseech Hashem to grant the Rebbe a refuah sheleima bekarov.

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