Just a few weeks short of 2366 years ago, Mordechai the Jew sealed a royal decree addressed to all Jews in the Persian Empire: they are to arm and defend themselves against their attackers, who in turn are required by a previous decree to annihilate and exterminate all of them. A miracle happened, and the Persian Jews did not start questioning and ridiculing the decree as insane and extremist. The bloggers of the time did not start making fun of rabbis, claiming that the evil Mordechai was manipulating the senile king in order to maximize the profits of his cousin Ezra HaSofer – CEO of Schmitd Ben Wessonstein, Persia’s largest rifle manufacturer. It seems that at that time, even the leitsanei hador understood that Buschashverosh gave Hamadinejad a free hand to eradicate them for good. Seemingly, the bleeding hearts didn’t claim that Mordechai was a warmonger trying to cash in on a drunkard’s boastings.
The Yidden at the time diligently went to the blacksmiths and gunsmiths to pick up arms and shields, and were getting ready to kill or be killed. No, they did not transgress the prohibition of “ מרידה באומות– rebellion against the nations”. They heeded Mordechai’s orders after fasting, repenting and davening for quite a while. And another miracle happened – they defeated all of their enemies, so much so that not one Jew had fallen.
2298 years later, a different empire banned Jews from all positions in firearm manufacturing and trading professions, and later barred Jews from bearing or owning any firearms. These were two laws in a long series of anti-Jewish racial laws. We all know what followed, and the memories of the gas chambers, incinerators and torture death camps became forever engraved in the Jewish memory. They are painful and depressing memories, but we must face them. Not only for the memory of the deceased and the commemoration of History’s biggest genocide, but first and foremost to draw the right lessons for our future. Unfortunately, now as then, all too many Jews feel so safe and secure amid the world’s turbulent incertitude – masked only by our addiction to unprecedented wealth and well-being – that they completely forget that the story of Purim is still a valid lesson, a fate’s warning, rather than just the commemoration of distant events.
The Constitution of the United States of America grants us all the right to keep and bear arms. Although in the states hosting the largest Jewish communities, the “bearing” part of this right is more theoretical than practical, so far even the most rabid left-wing extremists can only dream of stripping the citizens from owning rifles. All too many in our communities are simply oblivious to both the importance of the matter as well as to the accessibility of firearms. A used AR type rifle in great condition can be obtained for under $700, including paperwork. Handguns have more bureaucracy wrought around them, but are not inaccessible.
What people need to understand is that the Founding Fathers embedded in the Constitution the right to bear arms and to organize militias because of governments and rogue elements in any human society are unpredictable and cannot be trusted. Firearms handling and safety can be fairly easily and quickly learned by most anyone, from young children to elderly people, and require no specific physical strength or abilities. Furthermore, regular yet not excessively frequent training can instill a strong sense of responsibility, integrity and discipline in most users. In fact, shooting sports might be easily incorporated in frum summer camps or programs dealing with problematic youth (obviously not for kids who are already experimenting with drugs or alcohol – I’d say for not yet “at risk”) for little or no cost. The national 4-H youth program has an impressive shooting department within it. Of course, introducing a firearm in a large family’s home needs extra caution, but is in no way impossible.
If nothing else, the fact that our rabbis do not mandate guns should make you buy one! So this year on Ta’anis Esther take a few moments to think about what was the original cause of this fast day, and whether a little extra caution and preparedness is worth the investment.
Oh, just one more thing – on Purim don’t forget to lock up the gun before you get loaded!
If it seems to anyone that this post in any way insinuates support for Zionism and its state, or to reject the principles of bitochon – it is not the case. However, just as even the biggest Satmar buys a car to get to work rather than relying on G-d to supply him with a free flying carpet (sha’atnez free) or split the Ramapo river for him, and the greatest masmid in Lakewood applies for food stamps, Medicaid and HUD sec. 8 to support his selfless toils to grow in Torah, Yira’s Shomayim and honesty, so too we might be better off being prepared for the slight possibility of G-d not miraculously rescuing us from our dear Arab and Liberal friends.
For those on the far-far-left wing of ultra-open super-modern Orthodoxy: wouldn’t it worth it to be prepared for just in case, that maybe, perhaps, efsher, ken zayn, ulai, the crazy evil fanatics like Rush Limbaugh, Rav Yisroel Belsky or myself would decide to assault you?