Archive for the 'Elazar Zushe Portugal' Category

18
Mar
11

Purim’s Significance Today…


Almost 2500 years ago the Israelites, who’d been exiled to Persia, saw themselves threatened with mass murder through the instigation of Artaxerxes II’s (Ahasuerus) vizier, Haman. The odds were against them, bribes couldn’t accomplish much. Running away to safer places was not a viable option, especially since the Persian Empire extended through 127 lands! There seemed to be little that could be done… One man, one of the king’s advisors, a Jew, not only did not take this laying down but he seemingly exacerbated matters by refusing to bow down before the vizier. Rather than hide as soon as he saw Haman, he made it a point to stay where he was and while everybody bowed and prostrated themselves he stood defiantly upright. At first, this behavior seems incomprehensible. Every one was supposed to bow down or risk getting killed, yet this man seemed oblivious of the punishment. He continually and openly defied and enraged the vizier. Common sense would have dictated bowing down. What was the point of attracting undo attention to oneself? And why would Mordechai, the Jew, be so brazen about it?

Haman was a descendant of King Agag, who was defeated by Shaul Hamelech. King Agag was a descendant of Amalek, a desert chieftain in the Sinai Peninsula who attacked the Jews fresh out of Egypt and was very badly defeated. The enmity between the two people was strong; Haman, as a descendant of Agag, craved vengeance from the nation he hated most. Now, the head of that nation, Mordechai seemed to egg him on, to go out of his way to provoke him with his insulting attitude. Why did this Jew, Mordecai, refuse to bow and prostrate himself? Haman was considered a deity, he wore a necklace with his likeness in the form of an idol. Had Mordechai bowed to Haman, he would be bowing to a living idol. No Jew could do that! By being so brazen, he hoped that Haman would take out his wrath on him and him alone. But Haman was too smart for that. He knew Mordechai had saved Ahasuerus’ life by revealing a plot he’d overheard when two courtiers were planning to assassinate the king. For Haman to go and demand Mordechai’s head from the king was not likely to succeed. Instead, he told the king that one nation stands apart and refuses to blend in therefore it should be destroyed, including every man woman or child. By destroying all Jews he certainly would kill Mordechai! Esther, the queen, foiled the whole scheme when she invited the king and his vain vizier to dinner. At dinner she revealed to Ahasuerus, the plot against her people. Soon Haman and his 10 sons were hanged instead. That in short is the story of Purim as related in Megillas Esther… What is it’s relevance to our world of today? What if anything can it teach us? Patience, gentle reader, you will soon see…

In the days of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Jews – in the interest of peace with their Arab neighbors – were asked to give up any and all claims to the area of the Kotel Hama’aravi – the Western Wall, which is a remnant of the old Temple and thus the holiest existing site in the Jewish religion. In exchange for relinquishing all claims against it, the Arabs would permit the Jews to pray at the Wall without resorting to violence. Considering the number of Jews that had been killed or hurt on their way to prayers at the Wall, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Committee were ready to sign such a deal. They could not however do so, their signatures would lack legitimacy unless Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook – the Chief Rabbi – could be convinced of the merits of the idea and would publicly endorse it.

Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook

Various groups and organizations went to see the Chief Rabbi and carefully explained the situation, stressing the fact that by simply relinquishing Jewish rights the bloodshed of Jews would stop. The Rabbi however listened painfully  but did not answer. His beadle, sensing the Chief Rabbi’s pain, went into the next room where the Rabbi’s oldest son was engaged in studies with others. He explained the situation and the son then entered his father’s room and explained to the important members of the delegation that his father could never agree. They eventually left disappointed… they had presented their case to the Chief Rabbi, they had explained to him that lives could be saved, but he did not badge, as if he did not fully grasp reality!

Another delegation of notables came to see Rabbi Kook, these were even more important people, nobody ever denied them their request. For while couched as requests, their words were meant as orders. They too accomplished nothing, especially after Chief Rabbi Kook told them. “Mordechai never bowed, nor would he prostrate himself! (Book of Esther 3:2)” Defeated in spite of their entreaties, in spite of their threats, the notables left empty handed. Rabbi Kook knew full well that compromising at this time would mean that at a later time the Jews would be told that they should stop praying at the Western Wall altogether, after all, their Chief Rabbi and all the Jewish notables had given up any claim and therefore it was no longer theirs. They – the Jews – would now be encroaching on the Muslims by insisting on praying at the Western Wall, to which they had given up all claims!

Fast forward a few years to WWII, this story is about the Grand Rabbi of Skulen, Elazar Zushe Portugal ZaTZa”L. Nothing stood in the way of the Rebbe when it came to save Jews. During the war he was in the city of Chernowitz, then under Soviet control, so as to be able to assist those who had tried to smuggle themselves to Romania. Any Jew that was caught was immediately found guilty and as punishment was either sent to Siberia for life or he got a bullet in his head… The Rebbe, no matter the odds, always pleaded for those that had been caught and usually succeeded in getting them free.

The colonel in charge of the border patrols, also lived in Chernowitz, he was a ruthless man, but there was something about the Rabbi’s manner and his words that always managed to win him over, but even he had had enough of this Jew! He finally told the Rabbi, ” This will be the last time you will bother me. If you come again on behalf of your Jews I will kill you!”

Shortly thereafter the Rebbe was notified that a family of nine had been caught in the process of smuggling out. The Rebbe felt it was his duty to save them. Big bribes did not work, the Russians were absolutely determined to make an example of these people and thereby stop or at least slow down the escapes. The Rabbi felt he could still go to the Colonel and plead. His family and acquaintances begged him not to go, “why risk your life?” they argued. His answer was that while it was not a given that he would be killed as the colonel threatened, the lot of the unfortunate family was sealed unless he could do something about it!

Rabbi Portugal approached the colonel’s home with trepidation, climbed the steps and knocked on the door. The colonel opened and was immediately overcome with anger. He grabbed the Rebbe and threw him down the stairs. Badly hurt, and with extreme difficulty he managed to get up. With whatever strength he had left he barely climbed up the stairs again and knocked on the door.

The colonel opened the door and could not believe what he saw. There stood the Grand Rabbi of Skulen, dirty, bloodied, clothes torn, in obvious pain but… with a look of defiance in his eyes. “I must speak to you colonel!” the Rebbe said, tears streaming down his face. The colonel listened, the Rebbe begged, cried, as he told of the family’s plight. The colonel’s hardened heart was softened by the Rebbe’s selflessness and heartfelt devotion. He was impressed and the family was freed! The Grand Rabbi of Skulen, regardless of personal danger did not accept the family’s fate. He never wavered in his resolve to save them at all costs even at great personal risk. “Mordechai never bowed, nor would he prostrate himself! (Book of Esther 3:2)”

A 1930 Purim play, based on the Book of Esther

Still wondering what these stories of dead old Jews have to do with the 21st century world we live in now? Let me explain, gentle reader, 2500 years ago some Jews stood up to the Persian vizier. In Iran, would be new satrap, the putrid little maggot Ahmedinejad, is threatening the free world with impunity. Today, in Europe, in America, we are threatened by IslamoFascists who demand every right for themselves in exchange for nothing! Leaders in the UK, in the US, throughout Europe and Latin America are giving in without a fight, Frankly, these leaders have nothing to fight for, no spirituality, no lasting values worth defending. In the UK Imams preach hatred for the West, while comfortably living off the British taxpayer’s money. Their freedom of speech and incitement to violence is protected, While Geert  Wilders, who exposes their kind without inciting or preaching violence is denied entry to the UK and his freedom of speech is curtailed. Western politicians have long given up their values in exchange for power, money, lust. None of those lasts long, thus they have no reason to fight for. We the people are of no import to these so called “leaders,” all they want is to perpetuate themselves in power! They know full well that as long as they are useful to IslamoFascism, as long as they bow and prostrate themselves they will be reelected by that malevolent minority who would tear away the rights from the rest of us. There are still some people in the West who cling to their spiritual values, there are still people in the west who pride themselves of their lifestyle and Western heritage… UMordechai lo yichra velo ishtachaveh – Mordechai never bowed, nor would he prostrate himself. Will we?!?!?

CS




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