Every spring we tell two stories—two amazing stories. Amazing because no matter what our circumstances and no matter how many times we read them they always have new messages and meanings that become revealed as our lives unfold. Amazing because the heroes of the stories seem, even after all of these years, to be full of surprises.
The first story we keep under wraps in a scroll called the Megillah. We read it in the synagogue on Purim. The second story, an Exodus account, is in a book that we read at the table during the Seder—a before, during, and after dinner story called, the Haggadah—the Telling. These stories’ plots seem oddly parallel and equally oddly divergent. We read these stories at night with many interruptions of song, cheers, jeers, laughter, and tears.
Rabbi Moshe Rudin, spiritual leader of Congregation Adath Shalom in Parsippany, will do a deep dive into these stories in a Zoomed NCJW, West Morris Clergy Series program on Thursday, March 23 at 1 p.m. What we learn together promises to be surprising—and inspiring.
The Megillah tells the story of Mordechai and Esther, Persian Jewish leaders living in the empire’s capital during the days of the First Exile (sixth century BCE) and their struggle against state-sponsored genocide at the hands of a shadowy villain who manipulates a monarch who seems wholly given to legitimizing his hold on power. What are the meaning and message of this tale of palace intrigue and who is truly the hero?
The Haggadah story begins with slavery and atrocity at the hands of another heartless ruler: Pharaoh of Egypt. Moses is rescued from the genocide and rises to be the instrument of rescue of his people. But Moses’ older sister, Miriam, plays a pivotal role in the preparation and enactment of the Exodus. She is the only person in the account who is called a Prophet. And yet both she and Moses are missing in the pages of the Haggadah. Why?
By telling these stories and viewing them in each other’s light, we discover amazing insights and messages that are hidden beneath the narrative. In a very real way, the Megillah and the Haggadah form a matched set. The Exodus redemption from slavery comes at the very beginning of the Jewish journey; it is, in fact, that beginning, while the Megillah is the final redemption story of the Bible.
First and last—but the last story, the Megillah, is the one we tell first, on Purim. Esther and Miriam, Moses and Mordechai—what does each reveal about the other and about us?
Originally from New England and with roots in Conservative Judaism, in which he was raised, Rabbi Rudin studied at Boston University before transferring to Haifa University. His rabbinic ordination is from the Academy for Jewish Religion, a rabbinical school whose focus is on preparing rabbis and cantors for service to Klal Yisrael—to Jewish people regardless of their affiliation or involvement.
Rabbi Rudin seeks to make prayer and Torah accessible to congregants through means as varied as music (he enjoys playing guitar), drama, literature, art, discussion, meditation, cooking, and, of course, classical text study. Placing the highest value on building individual relationships and strengthening connections, and creating a rabbinate of engagement, he looks forward to generating active attendee involvement during this presentation.
Preregistration is required for Rabbi Rudin’s talk. To preregister, email firstname.lastname@example.org.