"There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed amongst the peoples. their laws are different from every other people's" (Esther 3:8). With these words Haman's version of the final solution is put in motion.
Haman correctly realized the Jewish people were vulnerable. V'dateihem shonot -their religions (plural) are different, he told Ahashverosh. The Jewish people in exile for the first time found themselves at odds with each other. With no central authority, with Jews scattered around and about 127 provinces, the lack of direction combined with the Hester Panim (hidden face) of G-d Himself the Jewish people started factionalizing. As their religious - and no doubt political - practices differed they were vulnerable to attack. Haman like so many heirs of Amalek was evil but was no fool. "If it pleases the king . I will pay ten thousand silver talents. for deposit in the King's treasuries" (3:9). Money to buy power (not much has changed).
What our enemies can do we can do one better. "It was revealed before the one who said let there be a world that in the future Haman will lift money against the Jewish people; G-d thus commanded us first regarding the giving of the half Shekel. Thus we learn that on the first of Adar we announce the mitzva of the half shekel" (Megillah 13b). What a strange passage. Just because our shekels are given first we can defeat Haman. Can one bribe G-d, so too speak, to annul His decree? Our Sages were no doubt hinting that the half shekel is not just a monetary contribution- it is the glue that binds all Jews together. "The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less (Shmot 30:15). All Jews rich and poor alike have an equal share in the Temple - the house that can only endure as long as the Jewish people are united. A half shekel and half shekel only as Jews need to partner to become whole. When we are united we can overcome any and all enemies. Our shekels must come before those who use theirs for nefarious purposes.
Our Kabbalistic Sages have noted the similarity between Yom Kippur and Purim - Yom Kippurim is Yom K' Purim literally a day like Purim. Of course this strange association, to say the least, requires explanation. While Judaism sees mitzvoth as an integrated whole - ethics, rituals, public policy and private obligations all are part of the same Divine system - we typically divide mitzvoth between those between 'man' and 'man' and those between 'man' and G-d. It is the holiday of Yom Kippur that focuses on our relationship to G-d. We daven throughout the day in solitude, spending little or no time with family and friends. And of course Yom Kippur does not atone for interpersonal sins. Purim on the other hand celebrates the Jewish people coming together in common purpose. Even G-d is hidden from the story as we celebrate together. Mishloch manot ish l'reaihu oMatannt la'evyonim. It is our relationship with man that is our focus on Purim.
Vayichan Sham Yisrael neged haHar - and the Jewish people (singular) encamped by the mountain. At Sinai for perhaps the only time in our history we came together as one, leaving strife and bickering behind (and unfortunately ahead). Jewish unity is the prerequisite for Torah. It is no coincidence that our Sages saw on Purim the reacceptance by the Jewish people of the Torah. Kimu vkibblu - they dedicated themselves to observe that which they had already accepted, our Sages exclaim, specifically the oral law. The written law dictated by G-d Himself was accepted on Yom Kippur (they broke the torah of Shavuot) and is the day to renew our relationship with our Maker. The oral law, on the other hand - while based on Divine principles - is written and developed by people and thus accepted fully only on Purim - the holiday that celebrates the unity of the Jewish people. And while G-d can tolerate even idolatry (see commentary of the Mesech Chochmah to Exodus 14:24) he can not tolerate dissension amongst His chosen nation. Yom Kippurim is like Purim, our relationship to G-d can only be a strong as that of our relationship to man. May we truly learn to celebrate Purim together with Jews of all 'beliefs and opinions' thus enabling G-d to transform "sorrow to gladness, mourning to festivities". May we merit "light and gladness and joy and honour". Purim Sameach .