The Pen and The Sword
Rabbi Eliezer taught that the book and the sword came down from Heaven wrapped together. This was to send a message that those who are occupied with the former (Torah Study) will have no need to fear the sword, but those who choose the latter will forfeit the wisdom of the book. (Sifrei, Eikev 40)
“God said to Moshe, ‘Write this as a remembrance in the Book.’” (Exodus 17:14)
“But when she appeared before the king, he commanded by means of the book that the wicked scheme, which Haman had devised against the Jews, should recoil on his own head.” (Esther 9:25)
“And it was recorded in the book.” (Ibid. 32)
We seem to take the legend of the Pen and the Sword quite seriously on Purim. We perceive this as a battle between wisdom and violence, between power and the power of thought, between study and action. And yet, all three Biblical stories of our battles with Amalek are action filled. The image of Joshua going out into battle, looking up at Moshe on top of a nearby hill, with Aharon and Chur holding up his hands is burned into our imaginations. King Shaul’s fierce battle against Aggag and Amalek is filled with violence, passion, frustration, anger, and action. Esther’s story is no les action filled than the first two.
Our challenge is not to finish the story with action but to turn it into learning, a lesson, a practical lesson, a lesson that we will carry with us and use as wisdom. We have the power to transform action, the sword, into wisdom, the pen.
And there’s more…
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