Passport Purim 2022

When Mordecai and Esther
Sent letters to provinces,
The joy of the wild jesters
Was unknown to Purim novices.

Persian Jews were elated
To escape the genocide,
And so went out and raided
The complicit countryside.

Today’s celebration’s muted;
No one’s seeking redress.
The pandemic’s concluded,
We’re thinking – more like recess.

A full two years since lockdowns,
The first remote megillahs.
Now experts at Zoom drop downs;
Squares seared in our retinas.

The first was away from shuls
The second one, wearing masks,
At last, costumed without rules
And toting unconcealed flasks.

It’s time to refresh passports –
Plan for family travel.
This basket is a crash course
Albeit tiny and facile.

Pesek Zman from Israel
And Scottish shortbread
Make taffy seem trivial
Americans’ tummies misled.

Beer from south of the border
And Italian biscotti,
Will make you pack your converter
To flee ale from Milwaukee.

There is something from the Swiss
And Kit Kats from America.
Alas, no hominy grits
Despite trips to Florida.

Wishing you health and free time
To enjoy the holiday
No Shaloch Manot from Prime
It’s the season for getaway.

Related articles:

Purim 2020, Jewish Haikus

Parshat Zachor: Defeating the Scar

On the Sabbath just before the Jewish holiday of Purim, Jews around the world read a short story from Deuteronomy 25:17-19 about remembering the ancient people of Amalek who attacked the Jews as they left Egypt:

זָכ֕וֹר אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֲמָלֵ֑ק בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶ֥ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃

Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey, after you left Egypt—

אֲשֶׁ֨ר קָֽרְךָ֜ בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּ֤ב בְּךָ֙ כָּל־הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִ֣ים אַֽחַרֶ֔יךָ וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ וְלֹ֥א יָרֵ֖א אֱלֹהִֽים׃

how, undeterred by fear of God, he surprised you on the march, when you were famished and weary, and cut down all the stragglers in your rear.

וְהָיָ֡ה בְּהָנִ֣יחַ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֣יךָ ׀ לְ֠ךָ מִכָּל־אֹ֨יְבֶ֜יךָ מִסָּבִ֗יב בָּאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְהוָֽה־אֱ֠לֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵ֨ן לְךָ֤ נַחֲלָה֙ לְרִשְׁתָּ֔הּ תִּמְחֶה֙ אֶת־זֵ֣כֶר עֲמָלֵ֔ק מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לֹ֖א תִּשְׁכָּֽח׃ (פ)

Therefore, when the LORD your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!


The beginning of the reading and the end have seemingly conflicting commandments. At first we are commanded to remember what Amalek did, however, the end of the reading instructs us to block the memory of Amalek. Further, the final instruction is reinforced by “Do not forget” to wipe out the memory, another layer of conflicting commands.

Are Jews ordered to remember or to forget?

A closer reading of the verses reveals how to satisfy each commandment and the important unifying message.

The first sentence is a command to remember “what Amalek did,” their ACTIONS. Those people committed a horrific attack and that assault should not be forgotten.

The latter verse is to “blot out the memory of Amalek,” to block the IMPACT ON THE PYSCHE that the attack left on the Jewish people. The Jewish people were just getting to know the first tastes of freedom after generations of slavery, and were set upon by Amalek. The emotional and physical scars left on the Jews would be carried for the rest of their lives. But God made them victorious and He does not want the memory of the pain to overshadow that victory. More specifically, once Jews are situated in “safety from all your enemies” in the land of Israel that God gave “as a hereditary portion,” it is important that past victimhood not continue to negatively color the Jewish outlook on the world.

The message of Parshat Zachor is to remember past atrocities of evil nations but to not let the scars from those encounters cloud the vision of the peaceful present which God has provided.

“Victory O’ Lord” painted by John Everett Millais (1829-1896) depicting Moses, Aaron and Hur during the battle with Amalek

Related First One Through article:

Defeating Haman’s Big Ten Sons and Modern Antisemitism

The Nation of Israel Prevails

Chanukah and Fighting on Sabbath

The Karma of the Children of Israel

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Purim 2019, The Progressive Megillah

Roughly 2,500 years ago where the patriarchy reigned,
Jewish history was made in a failed coup, bloodstained.

Far from the destroyed Temple, in the Persian vicinity
A ruffian named Haman was imbued with toxic masculinity.

He used his privileged status to easily befriend the king,
And set in motion a plan to set the palace right wing.

Haman targeted the snowflakes and anything intersectional
And demanded that every Jew position themselves genuflectional.

Yet the Jew Mordechai would not bow or quake
And later mansplained to his niece Esther the actions to take.

But Esther was already woke to Haman’s weaponized speech
And with Mordechai hatched a plan to have Haman impeached.

She asked the Jews in the kingdom to start fasting in the morning
In the first biblical example of a community trigger warning.

She burst into the king’s party, uninvited and quite disheveled
‘Attempted mass murder!’ through clenched teeth, at Haman she leveled.

The microaggression forced the king to seek a safe space in the garden.
When he returned to see Haman toppled on Esther, Haman lost his chance for a pardon.

Haman screamed in anguish in a curse filled with misogyny
And soon hanged from a tree with all ten of his male progeny.

The tables had turned and the streets were turned red
As the Jews attacked their enemies with 75,000 dead.

The Jews were not vanquished on Purim, aligned with the elites
Capped with handing money to the poor and giving each other treats.

Today’s alt-left progressives might find this ending bittersweet
And reject the story’s conclusion or find religion obsolete.

But antisemitism’s continuing roar from the extreme right and the left
Shouldn’t leave our whole community with a wide sickening cleft.

Hand your blue friends some red treats, and the conservative something blue.
Be joyous and celebrate wholeheartedly with each and every Jew.

Purim 5776/ 2016 Poem

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing trend in many Jewish communities to enhance the tradition of shaloch manot, sending gifts to their friends and neighbors on Purim.  The enhancement comes in the form of creating a “theme” for the gifts of food and candy, and including a poem.

This year, 5776 in the Jewish calendar and 2016 in the secular calendar, had various people using themes that included the US presidential race; recent movies; and popular singers.  Here is mine, that celebrated the infrequent occurrence of enjoying a leap year in both calendars.

How often is there a combined leap year
In both solar and lunar calendars?
One would need to look far and near
Measuring time with phased calipers.

Well, the year 2016 in the Gregorian tally
And 5776, in Jewish computation
Have aligned as natural allies,
And generated a special kind of elation.

You see, most of the world just adds a day
To that rump of a month in the frost.
While Jews go in all of the way-
Bringing a month to the front, embossed.

Jews have doubled the month of Adar
A month known as singularly happy.
Where sadness cannot otherwise mar
A people that is oftentimes sappy.

I yelled “Hooray! Two Adars is great!
Can we now celebrate Purim twice?”
But my rabbi set me straight-
“No, but that would have been nice.”

He suggested we double down on gifts-
Particularly, if serving alcohol.
But this shaloch manot has no fifths,
Yet the sentiment is the same, overall.

Happy Purim, Happy Purim!
Is our double exclamation!
Fill your own cup to the brim-
(Since Friday is anyway a vacation.)

Double Bubble, “Two”tsie rolls and Twix,
Are our way of highlighting the double.
Other great candy pairs are in the mix
As two foods get us out of trouble.

A bit more time to partake of the goodies,
In this year with added month and day.
But the shift will be quick for you foodies,
Since Pesach is still just a month away.

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