“Written instructions were dispatched by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, massacre, and exterminate all the Yehudim, young and old, children and women, on a single day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—that is, the month of Adar” ESTHER 3:13 (The Israel Bible™)

Usually, the Torah (Bible) provides a reason as to why an individual, or the nation as a whole, are punished. Megillat Esther (The Book of Esther), however, does not explicitly state what the people did to deserve the threat of annihilation. When viewed in historical context, it becomes clear that the Jews of Shushan, Persia were guilty of not having returned to the Land of Israel when they have the opportunity to do so. After the Persian king Cyrus conquered the Babylonians, he allowed the Children of Israel to return to the Land of Israel and begin reconstruction of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple). However, a mere 42,360 returned to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) (Ezra 2:64) while close to a million Jews chose to remain in Babylonia. Their generation was therefore punished for its lack of enthusiasm towards returning to Israel, teaching us the importance of making every effort to embrace the land and to physically return to it whenever possible. Pictured above are ancient ruins in Shivta National Park which would have stood waiting for the exiled Jews to return home.

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