Purim is upon us and with it comes a lot of mixed emotions for me personally.
On the one hand, the holiday includes a customary reading of the Book of Esther and that opens many doors to have discussions with my Jewish friends and neighbours about all kinds of Biblical principles and a lot of good fruit always comes from these discussions. It’s also a very fun holiday for children and I enjoy buying cookies and candy for my boys and their little friends, getting costumes for them to wear, etc.
But Purim is also a time when Israeli young people who were, just a few years ago, getting dressed up as comic book action figures, Israeli police officers and Queen Esther instead dress up as demons, evil clowns and other creepy stuff and go to rave parties where they ‘celebrate” the Biblical feast of Purim by getting drunk and/or stoned. There is a Rabbinic commandment, surprisingly enough not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, which actually says that on Purim Jewish people are required to drink until they “can’t tell the difference” between the heroes and villains in the story of Esther. Purim is one of the few times even the most secular, non-observant Jewish Israelis will quote a Rabbinic commandment and follow it to the letter.
This puts a real exclamation point on a trend which can also be observed the rest of the year whereby sweet, innocent little Israeli children somewhere along the line turn into something else entirely. Every morning I walk my son to his school and along the way we pass kids going to the nearby middle school. These kids, who range in age from 11 to 14 and just a few years ago were attending the same school my son is currently attending, look like they’re in pretty bad shape. Many of them smoke cigarettes as they walk to school and as they pass I can often smell on their clothes that they’ve been smoking more than tobacco recently. They often have body piercings and even tattoos. As they walk along they listen to gangster rap on their phones and talk to each other about going to weekend parties in Tel Aviv or Eilat.
This anecdotal experience I have every morning raises deeply troubling questions such as, are their parents aware of any of this and if so do they care? Does anyone else care? What does this portend for the future of this country?
A glimpse into answers to that last question can be found by talking (as I recently did) to people who train some of the tens of thousands of 18 year old Israelis who get drafted into the IDF every year. The numbers they quoted to me of draftees who get rejected for military service because of mental, emotional, psychiatric and physical problems, often related to “lifestyle issues” like drug use and irresponsible sexual activity, are quite alarming. This has immediate implications for Israel’s security situation, but it has much more serious long-term implications for Israel’s overall health as a society.
There is a dark spiritual force behind this tragic situation, and I’m asking whoever might be reading this to do me a personal favour as the father of two Israeli children and start including prayers for Israel’s children and young people in your schedule.
Pray for parents to wake up and realize that their children need them to step up and provide some guidance and direction. I know many parents who aren’t happy with the things their children are doing but they don’t know what to do about it. Pray the Lord will give them some ideas and pray for them to realize that as parents they have TREMENDOUS influence over their children, even if it is often difficult to see that.
Pray for schools and the IDF, that these institutions which are so important to forming and shaping the next generation will somehow find ways to do their part.
Pray that the children themselves will get a clue and realize that the behaviours they’re engaging in are incredibly self-destructive.
Last but certainly not least, pray for the Body of Christ in this country to have the resources and discernment to rescue our own children and be a light to others.