Amongt the 166 verses of the Megillah, there is this little gem: “There was a Jewish man in Shushan…Modechai…a Benjamite.” Here we are introduced to the Persia’s Chief Rabbi, Mordechai. For some reason, His genealogy doing back three generations – “the son of Yair, son of Shimi, son of Kish” – is insufficient. The author feels compelled to add Mordechai’s tribal status, “He was a Benjamite.”
And why is that so significant? The Sages explain: More than a thousand years before the Purim story, the Patriarch Jacob was returning home with his family after having escaped the clutches of Lavan. Unfortunately, what was waiting for him was not an open door and a sign reading, ‘Welcome Home. Glad to have you back!’. His brother Eisav and 400 bloodthirsty mercenaries were anticipating a massacre. Jacob prayed, sent gifts and prepared for battle. When the two brothers finally met, Jacob assumed a submissive position and physically bowed down to Eisav. According to some commentaries, this was a sin for which Jacob would be held accountable. Understandably, Jacob’s sons followed suit, bowed down as well. Only Benjamin, the youngest of the tribes of Israel, who was not yet born, did not bow.
Generations came and went. Jews were enslaved in Egypt, became the Chosen People at Sinai, conquered the Promised Land, anointed kings, built a Temple in Jerusalem, saw their country split in two, were exiled by the Babylonians and were now settled in Persia. Many changes, but some traditions were kept intact. Mordechai, a direct descendent of Benjamin, remembered his unbowed ancestor. So while others bowed down to Haman, Mordechai refused. It was a trait he inherited genetically.
History repeats itself, is not just another cute observation. It is true. Indeed, while many things seem to change, one constant always remains: the Hamans of the world who seek “to destroy, to murder and to bring to an end all Jews, from young to old”, are forever with us.
This was already foretold in Torah. In the first battle against Amalek, prototype of every anti-Semite, we are informed that although the Jews won, Joshua only weakened our enemy. Amalek survived and he continues to plague us. Obviously, in the spirit of Purim, his costume varies from year to year and country to country. But regardless of his many disguises which are designed to conceal his true intentions, they plot our demise.
This isn’t just the story of ancient Persia, the Middle Ages or the Holocaust. It is the story of our own times proving the truth of Elie Wiesel’s insight that, “the only thing we have learned from history is that we do not learn anything from history.”
When King Achashverosh threw a huge party, all were invited, even Jews. So that all were made to feel welcome, even the drinking was in accord with different faiths. In retrospect, a bill decrying generic hatred would certainly have passed in the Persian Congress. Yet it only took a short while for Haman to turn his strategy of genocide into national policy.
What was the key to Haman’s success? Listen to his words: “There is a certain people scattered and separate among the peoples throughout…your kingdom, and their laws differ…it is [therefore] of no use for the king to let them be.”
In other words: The Jews have dual loyalty!
That is their crime. Ilhan Omar didn’t invent this brilliant lie. It’s always been Amalek’s secret weapon. Hitler knew it. Stalin knew it. The ancient Pharaoh knew it. Listen to his words recorded over 3,300 years ago in the Bible: “The children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we are. Let us deal shrewdly with them….and they join our enemies and wage war against us.”
When Ilhan Omar said: “It’s all about the Benjamins,” she was referring to our hundred dollar bills. Her insinuation was clear. Jews control the world with money. For the Book of Esther however, “the Benjamins” refer to those proud Jews who do not bend the knee to anyone but G-d.
Mordechai the Jew from Benjamin is a hero because he refused to cower before those who sought to destroy our people. Ilhan was right, “It’s all about the Benjamins.” When our enemies, regardless of their status in Shushan or Washingtion plot “the final solution” for our people, don’t cower. Be proud. Now is not the time to be humble. Our very survival depends on the Benjamins.