The Banality of Poop

Yadid, who just turned six-years-old on Shushan Purim, is going to Jewish school for the first time this year. A couple of months ago in his school they learned about the story of Esther in preparation for Purim. At the Purim Seudah, festive meal, Yadid shared with me what he learned about Purim at school. In his kindergarten, Haman’s punishment ( for attempting genocide)was having to walk behind Mordechai, who was riding on the royal horse, and pick up the poop. Yadid added with a smile that this is his favorite part of the story.

This year at Purim, like every other year, I tried to fulfill the commandment to mistake the blessing of Mordechai with the curse of Haman. It struck me this year that I have been acculturated to expect Haman. He is a stock character in our history. As the adage goes, ” What is the definition of an anti-Semite? It is someone who hates Jews more than your are supposed to.” I am thankful that Yadid was not taught of Haman and his sons being put to death, but I realize that in retelling the story of Purim we have normalized antisemitism. From a young age Haman is not excused but he is to be expected.

I was reminded of a Sarah Silverman piece in which she corrects her niece who was astounded that 60 Million Jews died in the Holocaust. No it is only 6 million. Her niece responds, “What is the difference?”. There is a difference, “Because 60 million would have been unforgivable.” We make fun, but it is astounding to realize that the expectation of antisemitism has made us fulfill the commandment of mixing up Mordechai and Haman all year-long. As if antisemitism is normal.

We are blessed to live in a time of freedom, but we can never forget that this freedom comes at a price. We need to make sure the confusion of Purim is the exception and not the rule. I wanted to share these thoughts with you today in commemoration of Yom HaShoah. It is likely that my daughter Emunah will not have any strong memories of knowing a survivor of the Shoah. How will she understand the horrors of antisemitism without trivializing it? We need to confront evil beyond making bad people ” pick up the poop”?


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