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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Purim’s lessons for modern-day Quebec

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Joannie Tansky, Special to The CJN

One of the basic tenets of Judaism is that nothing happens by accident, so it’s no coincidence that Purim falls smack in the middle of the election campaign in Quebec.

No matter how one looks at what’s happening these days in our province, one thing is certain: both sides are fighting for the future. What transpires on election night will determine which direction this province will take. The stakes are high.

The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, this year on Sunday, March 16. It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish People in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.

Purim is a noisy festival. Every time Haman, the antagonist, is mentioned in the reading of the Megillah, children try to drown his name out with noise. He was the embodiment of evil. But why try to drown out his name with noise? After all, it’s an old story that happened long ago.

Noise is a symbol of tension and conflict. Tension is a time of confusion when the lines between good and evil are blurred and an eroded value system invades our minds. And this is where we are in our beloved province of Quebec – in a time of loud noise, tension and conflict.

Most people strive for morality and inspiration, trying to create awareness of a higher purpose. They try to take the high road. They don’t bend to the lowest common denominator, using devious means to achieve their end.

There are times in our lives when good is hard to see, when hope is clouded over, when our morale is down and it appears that evil will triumph over good. Purim comes to tell us that even in times of turmoil, tension and very loud, ugly voices, we must not lose hope.

We drown out the noise of Haman even today, because as Jews, our Torah is not a history lesson. Nor is wearing a kippah. It’s not a thing of the past, nor is it a meaningless piece of cloth. It is a constant reminder that there is someone higher than we are who runs our world.

Torah is a living, breathing entity. We run our lives by it. It gives us morality, purpose and shows us right from wrong.

Many empires have tried to destroy the Jewish People, a tiny minority in the world. They all failed, and those empires are nowhere to be found. Premier Pauline Marois may think she is building an empire, but if the initial foundation is built on negativity, using deceitful means, there is no foundation and the empire will, God willing,  never materialize.

Marois may want a “secular” society to achieve whatever end game she has in mind, but she is forgetting a very important piece of information. Nothing is happenstance. There is a God, and He runs the world. Therefore, we have nothing to fear but God Himself. Not Marois, and not cabinet ministers Bernard Drainville and Jean-François Lisée. We may be uncomfortable with some of the tests thrown at us, but we know that in the end, truth will win out. It has been proven over and over again in history, as it was in the story of Purim.

The true meaning and purpose in our world is peace and harmony, where illness will be eradicated and swords will turn into plowshares.

We must band together, take our present challenge and turn it into an opportunity to make our four cubits a better place to live. We must become stronger human beings with greater meaning and an even stronger purpose. We must take back our province and make it a wonderful, peaceful and honest place to live.

Joannie Tansky is the author of Girl Meets God, The Gift of Being a Jewish Woman, published by Urim.

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