My mother insists on inviting my brother for Shabbat dinner every week. This brother opposes everything Jewish,All he does is eat, grumble, and leave makes a point of not participating in any traditions and refuses to even cover his head for kiddush. All he does is eat, grumble, and leave. He has no respect. Is there any point in having him there?


You say he does nothing more than eat. But he does eat? That may be enough. There is a precedent for this in the Purim story.

Back in ancient Persia, a plot to kill the Jews arises. The Jewish Queen Esther invites her husband the king and Haman the wicked anti-Semite to a meal. She serves them food that she prepared, and Haman, who doesn't know she is Jewish, is described as being "happy and good-hearted" after the meal.

This is a strange way to describe such an evil person. Can a man who intends to annihilate an entire nation be called "happy and good-hearted"?

The Kabbalists explain that Haman was indeed a rotten man, but something touched him on this one occasion. The experience of sitting at Esther's table, eating her food, being in the presence of a righteous Jewish woman, was enough to reach even that cold and hateful heart, and for a fleeting moment Haman was good.

Of course that goodness was short lived. Haman went straight back to being the murderous villain that he had been a moment before. But a spark of goodness can never be lost. The Talmud saysThat goodness was short lived that Haman's great-grandchildren ended up converting to Judaism and becoming Torah scholars. Those souls were the sparks of goodness Haman experienced at Esther's table. The impact of that one meal only surfaced generations later.

Never underestimate the transformative power of a Shabbat table, the spiritual impact of a holiday meal, the embracing warmth of a Jewish home, and the profound influence of a Jewish mother. Just being there and eating her food can be enough to touch you forever.

Your brother is no Haman. He's not wicked, just disenfranchised. If Haman could be moved by just one meal, your brother can certainly turn around. You might not see immediate results. It might take years. It might take generations. You and I are only Jewish today because of the Shabbat tables of our great-grandparents.

Your mother has the wisdom of Esther. Your brother deserves his place at her holy table.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim!

Rabbi Moss

(Sources: Tiferet Shlomo, Remazei Purim; Talmud Gittin 57b)