Torah for this Hour | March 21, 2024

These past few years have afforded us the opportunity to read new meanings into ancient words. Before COVID, “plague” was a strange and distant concept. Just last Sukkot, “captivity” and “redemption of captives” were peripheral concepts to us, and suddenly they are a part of our daily lives.

With these are echoes of other ancient voices — “a city under siege by other nations” [see Kings II 24], “remember what Amalek did to you” [Deuteronomy 25:17], “The captives are not redeemed for more than their actual monetary value…” [Mishnah Gittin 4:6], and more.

Someone, at some time, has been here before. Not precisely here, not now, but in the general area code. The area code of mourning, the area code of disaster, the area code of captives, the area code of cities of Israel in ruins, foxes running amok in them, their vegetation grown wild, and their residents now Jewish refugees. Someone has written about this. Thought of this earlier, before … and that matters.

Someone was in the general area code of hope. Our fathers and our mothers grew out of similar disasters. Through their merit we are here now.

There will be no pure joy on Purim this time, it will be diminished joy. “A spark of joy to spread to one’s heart” [The “Eish Kodesh”, Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, rabbi and spiritual leader of the Warsaw Ghetto].