The Endless Ages of Purim
If you were at Daniel Greenfield's excellent speech today, you heard me promise that I would link to Greenfield's meditation on Purim.
Well, here it is.
And here is a taste:
But Mordechai had seen more than the nakedness of Haman, the crawling, insecure lackey, filled with hatred for the Persian ruler, flattering him and craving the ultimate power he could not have. He had seen the nakedness of the empire and the age. His eyes had seen past the horses and palaces, the ranks of scribes penning decrees, the harems, bureaucracies and armies. Mordechai knew that all this would pass away. He had seen through the illusion that every age brings with it the end of history, a new age whose achievements break with the past and usher in a boundless future. The shadow crosses the sundial, the walls come crashing down and the new era of history ends up buried under the rubble of time. Exile divides the Jewish people into Jews and New Age Jews. Jews wander on their meandering course through history concerning themselves with a past that modern people dismiss as myth and legend, more ancient than that story about Troy, and even more dubious. The New Age Jews always see the coming of a new era of history, a bright and shining plateau that makes all those old moldy beliefs completely irrelevant. History ends and now a new age of human progress begins. The age of Alexandria, the age of Sushan, the age of Berlin. How, in such a new age, could they be expected to take a few bygone fairy tales retold by barbarians seriously? Such things weren't for enlightened people who were witnessing the peak of human civilization. The old Jews know what the New Age Jews do not, that history has not ended, that the past is still with us and that it has sharp teeth. They know that Man has not changed, that his sophistication is still only a shell and that sooner or later the shell cracks. If it does not crack from within, then it is cracked from without. Those who feel time in their bones know the patterns of history, reading ages like constellations, can never lose themselves in one age or fall into the fallacy of a new era. They know that there is nothing new under the sun. Machines may come and go, but the world is a broken place because the hearts of men have not turned from their ways. And so they remember that every age carries within it the seeds of its ruin. They witness the ruin, climb out of the ashes and move on. Liberal pieties embrace the new age, fixate on a final transformative era of history at the hands of messiahs who promise hope and change, who will uplift us and inspire us to make the world into a better place. But history never ends. That is the lesson of the Holocaust, of Purim and of countless other horrifying intrusions of the old into the new. The shining new era that begins with grand public spectacles and displays of the power and might of an empire, ends with corpses and men and women fighting and running for their lives. Jews like Mordechai understand this. New Age Jews do not.
It's lengthy, but it is an excellent read. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.