Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Demise of Villains

Purim is a day on the Jewish calendar throughout Jewish history that has brought much joy to the Jewish people. A few years ago, a Jewish Soviet immigrant to the United States shared that he recalled hearing from his parents that Joseph Stalin had died on Purim. In general, when an arch anti-Semite dies, a wicked man who killed thousands of Jews and spiritually suffocated all of the USSR’s Jews, it is truly a modern day version of Purim.

To be more precise, Joseph Stalin died on March 5, 1953, which corresponds to the 18th of Adar, 5713, four days after Purim. But, the stroke that debilitated him and ultimately claimed Stalin’s life, did occur four days before his demise on March 1, 1953, corresponding to the 14th of Adar, which is Purim day.

Stalin gave orders not to be disturbed in the mornings. On the morning of March 1, 1953, the Soviet dictator did not emerge from his bedroom, and was discovered on the floor of his bedroom at 10:00 pm. A few days earlier, Stalin was rumored to have taken a steam bath, a practice that was expressly forbidden to him by his physician due to his very significant hypertension. Ironically, his physician was in prison as part of the “Doctor’s Plot,” an anti-Semitic campaign by Stalin against mostly Jewish doctors, which was terminated a few weeks after Stalin’s death by the new leadership of the Soviet Union, citing lack of evidence. It was later demonstrated that the “evidence” was fabricated. 

Thirty-seven years later, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August, 1990, and U.S. President George H.W. Bush amassed an international coalition which, through the U.N., insisted that Iraqi forces retreat. Coalition bombing of Iraq began on January 17th, which also led to the Iraqis launching Scud missiles against the center of Israel. Coalition bombers flew over 2,000 sorties daily. On February 24, 1991, ground forces invaded Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s military left Kuwait on February 28th, 1991. President Bush declared victory on the same day. February 28, 1991 was also the 14th of Adar, Purim.

Haman, the villain of the Purim story whose plot against the Jews blew up in his face, also represents all such paradigmatic anti-Semitic autocrats. Purim is a celebration of the victory over those who tried to obliterate us and our ancestors from off the face of the earth. Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein are two such individuals.

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