Zach Myers - Dvar Torah
Although my Torah portion ,which is Vayikra, is in the book of Leviticus, this shabbat is also Shabbat Zachor which is the shabbat before Purim. I have therefore chosen to talk about Purim rather than the animal sacrifices that were offered in the ancient temple.
The story of Purim tells us about Haman being selfish and wanting everyone to bow down to him but the Jews did not because they were told not to bow down to anyone but God. But Haman did not care about their beliefs; he just wanted everyone to be ruled by him. This still happens today when people only think about themselves and have no regard for others. People need to understand others beliefs and cultures like vegans and vegetarians or people who observe the laws of halaal and kashrut.
Some people did not want to share what they believe because they might be scared that they would be judged in a certain way, like how Esther changed her name from Hadassah to Esther to hide her Jewish identity. This can relate to a lot of people today and in the past. Many people adopt nicknames for themselves because their names are either too long or in their home language, making them too hard to pronounce. It is a sign of respect for others to make an effort to learn how to pronounce these names.
Haman didn’t make enough of an effort to learn the ways of the Jews. In society today, Jews are still oppressed and prejudiced for being Jewish in many countries and areas because we are such a small minority. Unfortunately many Jews feel the need to hide their Jewish identity, following the example of Esther.This secrecy is also symbolised by the Purim custom of wearing fancy dress.
The fear of being attacked is also felt by people of different religions, genders and political opinions. There is often a need for members of such groups to hide their true selves. So until we live in a world in which everyone is truly accepted for who they are, many people will sadly still live in fear, suppressing their authentic selves. Purim celebrates the escape of the Jews from such an unaccepting world