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March 23, 2016 6:47 am

The Day After

avatar by Harry Zeitlin

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A painting of the triumph of Mordechai. Photo: Rembrandt House Museum via Wikimedia Commons.

A painting of the triumph of Mordechai. Photo: Rembrandt House Museum via Wikimedia Commons.

Haman’s plot failed. He and all of his sons were hung on the gallows he had erected to kill Mordechai. Only yesterday condemned to death, he is today, like Joseph was long ago in Egypt, “second to the King.” Esther is undisputed as Queen. “The Jews had light and happiness and joy and honor (Esther 8:16).”

What about the day after? Other than resolving to celebrate future anniversaries of this escape from total obliteration, as we still do every Purim, did anything change? Did the Jews of Shushan return home en masse to the Land of Israel? Did they rededicate themselves to a life based on the Torah and mitzvot  mandated by The Creator who had, albeit from behind the scenes, just rescued them?

A common teaching, in danger of becoming mere cliché, is that Yom Kippur, more accurately Yom HaKippurim, is, literally, a day like Purim. There are many parallels: on Purim we begin with a fast and end with a feast, while Yom Kippur begins with a feast (eating before the fast is considered to be as important a mitzvah as fasting on the day itself), both days reflect rescue – Purim from communal destruction and Yom Kippur from our just punishments for all our individual misdeeds the previous year.

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Another commonality is how often most of us spend the day following each of these holy days – as if the day before had no significance at all.

Will there be a recognition this year that, in each case, we just barely escaped by the skin of our teeth, as the cliché goes, or will we merely check off one more day in our calendar?

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