Haftarah: Ki Tisa Part Seven: Can I Really Make A Difference: Purim
“Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you dance between two opinions? If God is the Lord, follow Him! And if the Baal, follow it!” Why did Elijah focus only on Baal? After all he had insisted that the prophets of the Asheirah be invited as well.
Elijah continues “I have remained a prophet of God by myself but the prophets of the Baal are 450 men.” How could Elijah say that he was the only prophet of God left? What about Obadiah? He had hidden 100 prophets of God. Was Elijah pretending to be the sole prophet of God in order to protect Obadia’s secret? That seems a little dangerous to me, after all what will happen after Elijah’s death? If Elijah claimed that there were no other prophets of God left, would anyone trust someone who claimed claimed to follow Elijah?
Perhaps Elijah was publicly admitting that he was scared of Jezebel. Elijah knew that his efforts at Carmel would be successful. He did not know how long this success would last. He wondered whether it would ultimately accomplish anything. “How much of the difference can I really make?” This is his story of eating food that nourished him for forty days; a small thing can make a big difference.
He understood that if the people reached great heights at Carmel but soon lost the moment and went back to their old ways the he would be considered a failure.
This leads us back to Jezebel: she does not attend. Does she know that she will lose? We have to wonder why she would allow her husband, her “little boy” to participate? Did she not think it would spell disaster for all the prophets who ate at her table?
It seems that Jezebel knew full well that Elijah would be successful at Carmel. She also knew that no matter what Elijah achieved it would ultimately disappear, Elijah would be a failure.
This is Jezebel’s constant argument against God: sure God takes the Jews to great heights. Do those heights ever last? Did Sinai last? What about the Golden Calf, so soon after Sinai? Sinai was a failure as far as Jezebel was concerned.
Jezebel would go back all through the history of the Children of Israel and would readily acknowledge all the great moments but she would insist that all those great moments were failures because they did not last.
When people ask, “Do my efforts really make a difference?” They are responding to a Jezebel type argument. This was Mordechai and Esther’s response at Purim: how do we know that the book of Esther was written with Divine Inspiration?
We know that it was written with Divine Inspiration because the book insists that the lessons of pouring would last forever and never be lost. Mordechai and Esther taught the Jews that when they can achieve something on their own with out great miracles, but all on their own, those are the things that truly make a difference. Those are the things that last. The Divine Inspiration what was enabled Mordecai and Esther to teach Israel such a lasting lesson!
This is why the Talmud teaches that Esther was able to accomplish a covenant with Torah that even Moses was unable to accomplish at Sinai:. The Jezebel argument against Sinai leaves its mark. It is the Esthers of the world who point out how we can make a difference that lasts forever.
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