Countdown to Purim, 5772: Western Style, in memory of the Fogels

The director of the video below, Shlomo Blass, is a friend of Udi Fogel, who was murdered together with his wife and three of his six kids little over a year ago. He developed the video in memory of his friend and writes:

In the clip I tried to take a Torah subject and make it accessible to the general public in a light-hearted way that does not impinge upon the meaning. I had help from a talented animator and illustrator, Ofer Winter. My decision to use Purim was not just because the holiday falls close to the date of the murder but because the main message of Purim is “Na’hafoch’hu” . That means that it is God who is running the world, even at times when everything looks black. The wisdom, of course, is not just to know that but also to live it. To me, Udi embodied that powerfully, with a smile and a natural humility. (Source: Israel Matzav)

After retelling the story of Purim as a Western, the video continues with a traditional explanation of why the story of Purim never mentions the name of God. The story of Purim is meant to show us that even when things are darkest, God is still at work albeit hidden.  This stands against an alternate reading that the Purim story is about human beings taking care of themselves rather than relying on God to save the day.

As a survivor of an attempted murder, I’m inclined to say both interpretations of the Purim story speak to important truths. Without a doubt in times of extreme stress we must rely on ourselves.  No angel came and rescued the Fogels and no angel came and rescued me. They were murdered and I survived by pretending I had been murdered.

And yet, I recall those moments when my life hung in the balance as being more centered and focused than I have ever been in my life. There was a stillness and calm that I have only ever felt before in moments of prayer. In the years since the attack I have often struggled to imagine that God could be anywhere near this broken world of ours where good people are hurt with no respect for their value or life. Yet strangely, people see in me a strong faith.

In a way I have to admit they are right. That faith certainly isn’t in God descending out of nowhere to save the day. That part we have to do ourselves. Even then our best efforts may be defeated, as was the case of the Fogels. Some enemies are simply smarter, quicker or take wise advantage of the element of surprise. Rather it is in the deep belief that no matter what happens God can turn it upside down and all around. Just as Haman set up a gallows for Mordachai and ended up swinging from it himself, so too all the evil we face can with the help of God get turned around into healing and salvation for those that come after.

Nothing will bring back the Fogels, but I pray that goodness and healing will flow endlessly from their lives and the efforts of all who love them to do good in their names. Ken yehi ratzon. Amen.

Categories: To Be a Jew | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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