23 February 2018 / 8 Adar 5778
“For us, social action is rooted in our Jewish values. As Purim approaches, we invite Jewish communities across the country—organizations such as Hillels and synagogues, or groups of individuals, or collaborative efforts across one city—to join us in the fight to end gun violence in America. Purim celebrates courage, and this Purim, we will stand strong. We will bake Hamantaschen and make Mishloach Manot baskets to sell in our communities. We will donate the proceeds to groups working to end gun violence in America. Examples include Everytown for Gun Safety, the March for Our Lives, and GoFundMe pages helping survivors and the victims’ families. We invite you to join us.
Every year on Purim we read the Megillah, a story about a Jewish woman named Esther who stood up to an evil man who wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Her cousin Mordechai, one of the heroes of the story, asks her: “Who knows if you have not come to your position for just such a time as this?”
Now is the time to take action. We are in a position to create change. It won’t be easy, but each of us has the power to help stop gun violence. Let’s remember the 17 students and teachers lost to senseless violence at Douglas so that they did not die in vain.”
Awesome and Yasher Koach — Jewish values in action, grounded in Jewish text.
Then I realized there’s an even tighter link between Purim and school shootings in particular.
Due to governmental regulations, King Achashveyrosh can’t disarm the factions who have been encouraged and given 11 months to prepare themselves to massacre Jews on the 13th day of Adar. (Esther 3:7-13) A decree, once given, cannot be countermanded. (Esther 8:8) Instead, Esther and Mordechai write new orders permitting the Jews to use massive force against anyone who attacks them. (Esther 8:9-13)
Result? 800 dead in the capital Shushan alone, plus 75,000 elsewhere in the kingdom. (Esther chapter 9)
Is that what we want? An on-going bloodbath?
It brings up other issues with arming teachers: Are all teachers fit to wield deadly weapons? What training would be required of them? Teaching youth has to be one of the potentially most frustrating jobs in the universe, right next to parenting. How much danger would students be in from their teachers? What danger would there be that a gang of angry students would sieze a gun from an unprepared teacher? And so on.
Bringing guns into schools, even under the supervision of teachers, only brings more guns into schools. More guns means more opportunity for gun violence. There is such a difference between a fight breaking out between people who are armed with fists, and those who are armed with any weapon. School is not a safe place for guns.
King Achashveyrosh had his hands tied by pre-existing regulations, or long-standing custom, which apparently he couldn’t change. The US has the power to change our laws in ways which reduce violence, not encourage more of it.