The name of Haman, the adversary of the Jewish people in ancient Persia, brings to mind the current villain bent on the Jewish people’s destruction: the Hamas terror apparatus in Gaza. And it's not just their names that sound similar.

Haman sought to “destroy, kill and exterminate all the Jews, young and old, infants, and women, in a single day,” the Book of Esther recounts.1 Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups sought to do the same on October 7, 2023. Following their 1988 charter, Hamas acted—and acts—in accordance with its belief that “the Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims [kill] the Jews.”

It is only natural to look to the story of Purim to draw inspiration from how the Jewish leader, Mordecai, and his heroic cousin, Queen Esther, dealt with the antisemites of the Persian Empire, as we face those who want to destroy our People today.

1. Hate Proliferates

The Persian Prime Minister Haman was furious that Mordecai refused to bow to him, but he refused to punish Mordecai alone, as he considered it beneath him.2 Instead, he plotted to destroy all the Jews in Ahasuerus' kingdom. Hate starts with one individual, yet quickly spreads to encompass an entire group.

2. Start With Spiritual Support

After King Ahasuerus approved Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jews, Mordecai "cried a loud and bitter cry," and directed the Jews to engage in "fasting, weeping and lament."3 They understood that their transgressions had given the green light for this threat to materialize, so they began by repenting to make good with G‑d.4

3. Tell the World

When Esther sent a chamberlain to report on what was transpiring, "Mordecai told her everything that had happened to him.”5 When atrocities are about to happen, it isn't the time to mince words. It is the time to sound the alarm and say "everything" as it is.

4. Stand Up for Others

Although the plot targeted the entire nation, Mordecai referred to it as something that had “happened to him.”6 That's because he had a deep level of empathy and responsibility. He could have been spared from the decree due to his position and associations, yet he made the plight of others his own.7 When even one Jew is under threat, we all feel under attack.

5. Utilize All Connections Available

Mordecai could have fulfilled his responsibility by lobbying the king as leader of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of ancient Israel. Instead, he went further, begging Esther to "come before the king to appeal to him and to plead with him for her people."8 When she hesitated, worried about appearing before the king uninvited, Mordecai said: "Perhaps you have attained your royal position for just such a time."9 Use any connections you have to save lives.

6. Unite the People and Pray

Before embarking on her critical visit to the king, Esther asked Mordecai to "go and assemble all of the Jews.”10 Haman's original claim was that the Jewish nation was "spread and scattered.”11 Esther recognized that in order to storm the heavens and annul the decree, unity was pivotal, and insisted on bringing everyone together.12 A united front is critical to facing an enemy.

7. Take the High Road

Even after Haman was eliminated, the decree against the Jews remained in effect, and the antisemites of the day were more than eager to carry it out. So the Jews fought to "avenge themselves on their enemies.”13 The king even allowed them to "plunder their possessions," but the Jews didn't take a thing.14 They were there simply to defend their right to exist.

8. Don’t Let the Job Go Unfinished

The king originally granted the Jews one day to defend themselves, but in the capital city of Shushan, there were so many enemies that more time was needed. The Jews petitioned for another day of battle so that they could finish the job, which they did.15 Sadly history has validated that he who is merciful to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to the merciful.16

9. There Will Always Be Hatred—And G‑d Will Save Us

"Upon Esther's request, this account of Purim was confirmed, and it was canonized in the scriptures."17 Esther wasn't looking to aggrandize her name. "These days will be remembered and observed in every generation," the verse says.18 It wasn't just the holiday that she was granting the future generations, but the reminder that antisemitism will continue to haunt the Jewish people. The secret to Jewish survival is to remain proud and faithful Jews, confident that G‑d will protect us.

10. Believe in Miracles

Things looked bleak for the Jews of the Persian Empire. But in almost no time at all, the tables turned completely. Their arch-enemy was dead and the Jews were free to live and prosper. In the words of the Megillah, “It was reversed, the Jews should rule over their enemies.”19

May it happen today. Amen!