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11/01/2022 11:16:40 AM


Jews mourn their lost home in Judea but choose to stay in Babylon

When the people of Judea – exiled for decades in Babylon – were allowed to return to Judea the typical response was, “Thanks, but we’re good here.” They had become used to Diaspora living. They mourned their lost home, but they chose to stay in their new one, much like the typical definition of a Zionist one hundred years ago: someone who raises money so someone else can move to Palestine.

This choice also meant there would be tension between those who did return and those who did not return. On the one hand, survival in the Diaspora was celebrated. On the other hand, even a happy story from the Diaspora, such as the saving of Persian Jews by Esther, was understood to be a pyrrhic victory. Who knows what the morrow would bring?

In the end, the story of Esther may be an oblique criticism of those who could have returned to Zion and did not return.

The irony is that even those who did return soon confronted an alien culture. They did not go to it; it found them. Next time: Jews confront the challenge of Hellenism.

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783