A few days ago, ahead of Purim, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told schoolchildren that modern Iran, like ancient Persia, wants to destroy the Jewish people.
This prompted this tweet from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif.
To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews 3 times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit. pic.twitter.com/N09PyyGwqy
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 12, 2017
Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said it best:
Hard to think of someone whose services as a Torah commentator are less in demand. Don't quit your day job. https://t.co/Zg88ym5Gqe
— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) March 12, 2017
Zarif is of course wrong: Xerxes I (who Jews know as Ahasuerus) originally approved Haman’s order to kill the Jews, so he is not the savior; rather, it is Queen Esther, who had him rescind it, who is the one who saved the day.
But it is Zarif’s mention of Cyrus the Great saving us from Babylonian captivity that had me chuckling the loudest. Because Cyrus’ actions are credited with enabling us to rebuild our destroyed Temple in Jerusalem!
Cyrus holds a special place in the history of Israel. He is mentioned in the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah, in the Book of Ezra (and at the end of II Chronicles), and in the Book of Daniel (1:21; 6:29; 10:1). In these passages he appears both as one destined to save Israel and to fulfill for it a certain mission on behalf of the God of Israel (Deutero-Isaiah), and as one whose edict and command served as a foundation for the return to Zion and the erection of the destroyed temple (Ezra). Apparently the successes of Cyrus, particularly the preparations and steps that indicated that a struggle between him and Babylon was pending, were in part responsible for rousing Deutero-Isaiah to utter his prophecies on the imminent redemption of Israel and the impending destruction of Babylon.
So by mentioning Cyrus and his actions, Zarif is, in effect, admitting that we had two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, and we were exiled from our land.
Many Polish Jews among the 116,000 Polish refugees permitted in 1942 to leave the Soviet interior to which they had fled in 1941 or been deported in 1939–1940 passed safely through Iran on the way to Palestine or Great Britain…
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