by Daneal Weiner
A cop pulls over a guy for speeding. The guy say, "Officer! Do you have any idea how fast you were going?" Thank you, thank you. Remember, we're professionals. Don't try this at home. How about a little audience participation? What would you say is the holiest day of the year? Yom Kippur? Good answer. The Gemorah regarding Yom Kippur is called Yumah. 'Yumah' means 'day'. The Gemorah doesn't even want to utter the name, it's so holy, so it refers to Yom Kippur only as 'the day'. What does 'Kippur' mean? 'Ki' is a prefix which means 'like' and 'pur' is the singular of 'PURim'!!! Yom Kippur- so sacred that it's name isn't uttered and it is only 'like' Purim!?
We say that Shabbos is "may'ain olam habah", a taste of the world to come. For Shabbos, though, we have to raise ourselves. We remove ourselves from the mundane world and elevate ourselves into a realm of holiness. On Purim, the holiness comes down to us! Into our day to day! Visiting the palace may be a big opportunity but when the King comes to you in your house, now that's BIG!
Rav Wolfson's twist is that because of the intense spiritual magnitude of the of the day we have to anesthetize ourselves with food and drink. We mask up and hope that when it's all over, that the operation was a success. Rav Wolfson mentions and warns, from Sforim K'doshim, that on Purim, our davening- prayers have direct access to the Kisai Hakavode- the Throne of Glory. Anthropomorphicly speaking, Hashem's Kisai Hakavode is the source of all spiritual influence in the universe. All davening normally ends up there but they first go through lines and a series of switching stations. And you know how much trouble there could be with downed lines and poor equipment. On Purim, though, it's direct access! So however you celebrate, plan ahead for a clear head for davening.
[This is why was the phone system invented. Idea's which were once common knowledge to all Jews, now require models and examples for us to understand them. Along these lines (ba-dum bum) what else can the phone system teach us? A pulse phone will work on tone equipment. No matter how high tech the world gets, the 'old’ system of prayer works. But no matter how high tech the world gets, don't think the heavens need upgrading. It's running the 'old' equipment. “Upgrading” a.k.a. re-writing the prayer books will not result in better transmission. Because, a tone phone does not work on the 'old' pulse equipment. The caller will only be talking to themselves. But isn’t that why some would rewrite the prayers in the first place?]
So what makes Purim so great that in the end of days, all of the other holidays will become obsolete? First we need what to compare it to. A Midrash tells us that Hashem went to all the nations of the world and asked them if they would accept the Torah. They asked what was in it and then rejected it. Hashem came to the Jews with His offer. We immediately responded with, "Na'aseh v’nishmah!" Literally, "We will do and we will hear." Figuratively, "What ever You want us to do, G-d, we will do and then we'll investigate and learn what lessons come out of Your commands!" The Midrash says that when the angels heard Bnei Yisrael say, "Na'aseh v’nishmah," they were stunned! "Who told them our secret?" they inquired of each other. With the dedication of angels we accepted the Torah! And with all this, Mt. Sinai takes a back seat to Purim.
The Midrash also says that at Mt. Sinai, Hashem held the mountain over Bnei Yisrael 's heads like a barrel and He asked them if they wanted to accept the Torah or be buried on the spot. [Of course we'd be buried under a barrel!? One has to wonder what Chazal were trying to say by that. (Now days, the expression is 'living in a box'.)] One message of this Midrash certainly seems to be that Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah by force! But we have to understand what the force was? The force was the 10 plagues, the splitting of the sea, the revelation of Mt. Sinai itself! With all that Bnei Yisrael had personally experienced and witnessed, the truth was the force by which they had to accept the Torah. It was free choice but if I asked you to stick your tongue in a spinning food processor I'll bet every shekel I have every time you don't do it. The choice, of course, is yours. A more accurate analogy would be a bride under the canopy who certainly has the choice to stop the ceremony and go home. When Bnei Yisrael was under the canopy of Mt. Sinai they committed to our 'marriage' with Hashem. That was a wedding to celebrate! But it still wasn’t Purim.
By Purim there were no plagues, no slitting of seas, no supernatural revelation. In fact, the opposite occurred. There was no sign of G-d anywhere and the one representative of Him was making headlines. If the Jerusalem Prust had been operating in the time of Mordechai and Esther, the front page would have looked something like....
ULTRA ORTHODOX CHAREIDI BLACK HAT RABBI SPURS WRATH OF PERSIAN VIZIER- BRINGS DEATH TO WORLD JEWRY!
(Shushan) Mordechai son of Quiche, must have scrambled to many eggs. He can
be found every day waiting outside the main entrance to his majesties
palace waiting for the vizier Haman to pass by. Vizier Haman has ordered
that all citizens bow before him yet the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi refuses. This
journalist interviewed the elitist Rabbi. "Rabbi Mordechai. Why don't you
bow to Haman?"
"He wears an idol around his neck?"
"Now Rabbi, I attended Hebrew school. I know halaka too. If the decree was to bow to Haman and not the idol plus it will save Jewish lives, then doesn't halaka dictate bowing!?"
Though suddenly we don’t want to quote the Rabbi he said something to the effect of, being an Ultra-Orthodox Chareidi Black hat Mea Shearim type Jew he is more stringent in his observance no matter what the consequences. Finally we asked, "Our sources say you lift your leg when Haman passes. Is there meaning behind that ?"
"The king gave large sums of money to me and to Haman to investment. Haman lost all he was given. To avoid the king's anger he came to me for a loan. I would only loan him the money if he sold himself to me as a slave. That bill of sale I keep in my shoe and I remind him of it at every opportunity. You think my not bowing makes him mad? Wait till you see when I shake my foot at him!"
[Megillas Esther 5:13, "(Haman is saying) All this (power and wealth I have achieved) is worth nothing to me every time I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king's gate!" Because the possessions of a slave belong to his owner!]
Rav Dessler explains that when Yaakov was to confront his Eisav, he sent ahead many gifts to appease him and he also prepared the camp for war. We learn there that sometimes the way to beat the wicked is through appeasement. But sometimes it requires an offensive attack. Mordechai knew this time appeasement would have made the situation worse and only an all out assault was the kiddush Hashem which would save the Jewish people.
So not only were there no miracles but the sins Bnei Yisrael had committed had been buried under years of current events and it seemed to be one man who was the cause of all their trouble. But we know that is not how the papers ran. The Jewish people realized they were at fault. Generations back they sinned for bowing to an image! Years back they sinned for enjoying Achashveirosh’s feast! We deserved to be destroyed and only repentance and prayer and listening to Mordechai saved us. After defeating Haman and all other enemies we again accepted the yolk of Torah. On ourselves, on our descendants and on anyone who would join us. (shh! don't tell that last part to the ne'eman commission.) Unlike Pharaoh who at the earliest moment of respite denied any recognition of or commitments to Hashem, we embraced the Torah's with open arms, celebrated and continue to celebrate the honor of being Hashem’s chosen people and the privilege of keeping and safeguarding His Torah.
Let's get into some Torah on the Megilah Purim and then, b'ezras Hashem, we'll have a Purim Torah! 1:22> "[proclamations were sent out] ‘Every man should rule in his own home and speak the language of his people!’" The goyim already follow the culture of the father. But the Jewish men who intermarried weren't going to raise their kids with Hebrew. So they let the wives teach the children. This enabled Haman to say to Achashveirosh, in his argument to destroy the Jews, (3:8) "They do not observe the kings law's." Also, whenever the word 'king' appears in the Megillah without specifying Achashveirosh, Chazal tell us it can be read as referring to the King of kings. So the intermarriage allowed Haman to say to the King, "They do not observe the Kings law's."
Then again, this proclamation made Achashveirosh look like a fool! The men should rule the house in their own tongue!? Duh hey, Achashveirosh! Anything I don't know?! (Those are Achashveirosh's goyish subject's speaking. Not me. Right, dear? owe!) This proclamation was Hashem's divine providence! Later on Haman was going to send out a proclamation that the Jews were to be destroyed on a certain date. Who would wait? If the king establishes policy as , "we hate Jews" then are the courts going to punish anyone who kills a Jew a few months ahead of time. Would they really care if a krystalnacht was organized? But when the king has a history of sending out ridiculous proclamations, then people are less inclined to take liberties with them because who knows how he would respond?!
2:19> "And when the maids were gathered a second time..." After the first beauty contest, which Esther won, Achashveirosh was aggravated that he couldn't get her to give any information about who she was. A murderous, lustful, animal like Achashveirosh would like to have a queen with a little royalty in her blood. Come from a good family. At least have good dental records. Achashveirosh knew nothing! Gemorah Megillah says it was Mordechai who suggested to Achashveirosh to hold another round up! "Make her jealous. Then she'll talk!" Of course, this isn't what Mordechai’s intentions were. Plan A was for Achashveirosh to find someone else so he would let Esther go. Plan B, if he doesn't find better, maybe he would get so aggravated that he would reject her anyway and chose the second best.
The Chasam Sofer says Mordechai had a Plan C! A wife who's had an affair, the Torah forbids her to her husband (and to the one she's been with). This doesn't apply when the woman is taken against her will, G-d forbid. But even being taken by force, the slightest willingness on the woman’s part would make her forbidden to her husband! This puts Chazal in some difficult situations.
A captives yetser horah- evil inclination doesn’t stop just because of the miserable situation she is in. A woman in a king’s harem has nothing but say a feudal lord or governor type kidnaps her. She may become his ‘prize possession’ (may he rot) and let her share his wealth and authority. Chazal have to be concerned for the tremendous attraction that money and power has on human nature. It has to be considered as having pierced this woman’s otherwise impervious armor. Her 100% disgust dropped to a 99. The Torah forbids her and her husband’s reunion. The Jewish community is never released from their obligation to try and redeem her. The concern is that upon redemption she doesn’t go back to her husband and, after 120 years, find out in the heavenly courts that they both violated a Torah prohibition with every encounter. Chazal have to force a couple thrown into this nightmare to divorce. Both can, of course, re-marry others and hopefully pick up the pieces (I don’t need to tell you I have not been voted in “Official Chazal Spokesman”!)
When Esther was taken by king Achashveirosh, there was ‘hope’ that she would be left to the harem. But then she was made queen! A horrific situation just became worse! "What is your petition Queen Esther? Even if it be up to half the kingdom it shall be fulfilled." She and Mordechai will be forbidden to each other. Quickly, Mordechai recommends another beauty contest. Now Esther is in a position where she can be replaced at any moment! Although she has the title 'Queen', her position is very precarious. Halachically she can still be considered as taken against her will, 100%. She and Mordechai still have a chance!
4:3> "In every province, where ever the king's command and his decree extended, there was great mourning amongst the Jews, with fasting, crying, eulogizing, and wearing sackcloth and ashes." There is a Midrash which says that these 6 expressions of grief (mourning, fasting, crying, eulogizing, sackcloth, and ashes) are recompense for the days the Jews of Shushan participated in Achashveirosh’s feast. But it states clearly in the first chapter that that feats was 7 days long???
The Ya'aros D'vash, did some figuring and figured out this answer. The 7 day feast was preceded by another. Verse 1:4> "He [Achashveirosh] displayed the riches of his glorious kingdom... for many days, 180 days." Why does the verse say 'many days' and then enumerate 180 days? The Hebrew for 'many' is 'rabim', a word which can also mean 'great'. Of all the days of the year, which are the great days? The spring/summer days! They’re not only great in a weatherly sense, they’re the 'longest' days too. Ain't that 'great'? So the first feast went forth from the first of Nisson and the food, fun and festivities finally finished the last day of Tishrai, 6 months later. 6x30=180. But every Jewish month is not 30 days! Every other month is! The others are only 29 days long. So the last of Tishrai would only be 177 days later. That requires the first three days of Tishrai to make 180. And now the 7 day feast would take it to the 10th of Tishrai. And the 10th of Tishrai is Yom Kippur!!! So of the 7 day feast, the Jews only ate and drank 6 days.
So you may ask, if the Jews had chucked out G-d and Torah, which is what the party was all about, then why would they care if it's Yom Kippur? The Ya'aros D’vash is a step ahead of you. The word 'hasatan', another name for the yetser horah, has the gematria of 364. Chazal say it falls one day short of the number of days in the year because there is one day when the evil inclination, does not evilly incline us. And that day...you guessed it!
5:14> :Then his [Haman's] wife and all his friends said to him [Haman],
'Let a gallows be made, 50 cubits high and tomorrow speak to the king and
have them hang Mordechai on it..'"
The Astrological sign for Adar are fish swimming in opposite directions. This symbolizes all the events in the Megilla that were turned around as fast as a fish can change directions! Also, The rule of the sea is the big fish is the hunter and the little fish is the huntee. That is, till a BIGGER fish comes along. In Hebrew we say, "Nehapuch hu"- It was turned around. That s the maxim of Purim. Haman's builds a gallows for Mordechai which, "nehapuch hu," he gets hung on himself. So what does all this have to do with the above verse?
The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni asks from where did Haman get a 50 cubit long piece of lumber? It 'just so happened' that Haman's son was the governor of Turkey wherein stands a mountain know as Arrarat. The final docking port of a boat called the Ark. Noach built the ark 300 cubits long by 30 high by 50 wide! Guess what Haman got for Father's day?
It says back in Breishis, in Parshas Noach, (8:1) "And Elokim (G-d) remembered Noach..." This Name of G-d, 'Elokim’ denotes 'Justice'! Yeah, so what?! I'll tell ya! It says G-d "remembered." That implies that G-d "forgot", k'v'yachul! ["k'v'yachul" is an expression we say when we say something about Hashem we really can't say but say anyway in order to understand an idea we otherwise couldn't understand. Understand?] If G-d told Noach the Ark was going save him and family from the flood, it would follow that after a period of time G-d had plans for Noach to get off the Ark. This makes the Name of G-d denoting 'justice' work because time was up. But the word 'remember' doesn't work!
Why is it there? Because of the sin of Cham. He had relations with his wife! G-d had commanded them not to be together while in the Ark. This vessel of sanctity, the salvation of a corrupted world had itself, become corrupted The effects were already felt inside. Noach went to feed the lion his grass and the lion suddenly had a fancy for a nice polkie. [Adam and Chava were warned by food and their sin affected their nakedness. Noach and family were warned about their nakedness and their sin affected the food!] So with Ark no longer 100% what it was, Forget it! Let it float! And so G-d "remembered". Ah, now it makes sense. G-d remembered various reasons to save mankind even in their less than perfect state. Yeah! But now the problem is the name 'Elokim'- Justice! With this new scenario, it should be G-d's Name of Mercy which remembered them!?
The answer to it all is "Nehapuch hu"- It was turned around! Rashi says on this verse that G-d's Name of Mercy was turned around to Justice. In order to save mankind through Noach, G-d had to judge the rest of the world. And G-d's Name of Justice was turned around to Mercy when the prayers of Noach found favor in Elokim’s eyes and He remembered them. The Ark is one big power source for the energy of "Nehapuch hu"! Sorry Haman. Bad choice of lumber!
Rav Isbee added in that with out the Jewish people, their would be no reason for the world to continue. By Haman killing the Jews he would have destroyed the world. The Ark saved mankind once. It did it again!
As long as we we're somewhat back in Breishis, 4 rivers came out of the Garden of Eden, paralleling the 4 kingdoms which put us into exile. The name of the 2nd river is "Gichone" which Chazal say symbolizes Persia. How? The snake, which, in the Garden, was the external force of the yetser horah, convinced Adam and Chava to sin by speaking lashon horah. It slandered Hashem! It said the reason G-d didn't want them to eat from the tree is because then they would be like G-d too, implying the tree was where G-d got His knowledge from as well. G-d cursed the snake saying it would crawl on it's belly. The word for belly is 'gichone'! Haman also spoke slanderous about the Jews to Achashveirosh. Ergo, Gichone = Persia. But wait. There’s more!
Jump to Vayikrah 11:42 and there is a big letter 'vav', printed as it's inscribed, larger than the standard letter size. A footnote in the margin of most Chumashim (but not inscribed in the Torah scroll) will tell you that this vav is the middle letter of the Chumash. And that vav appears in the word 'gichone'! This verse found amongst laws regarding eating says, "Anything that crawls on it's belly...you may not eat them for they are an abomination."
The Vilna Gaon explains this middle letter. The central message of the Torah is simply not to give in to our yetser horah! If it has to do with the snake, it is an abomination! And why the vav? First of all, it looks like a snake. Second of all, a ‘vav’ represents 6. Six are the days of creation without Shabbos! Just the 'natural' world with out it's spiritual counterpart. The strategy of the yetser horah is “It's all nature.” "G-d? What G-d? He ate from the tree. You eat from the tree and you be a god too!" "Give up an hour of work to learn? What is learning gonna do? It aint natural! You know how much money you can make in that hour? And Shabbos has 25 of them! Rosh Hashanah has 51! Pesach, 169! You can become a millionaire with just Pesach alone!"
The Megilah starts out with a 'vav'. It ends with a 'vav'. Almost every column of an inscribed Megilah begins with a 'vav'. Hashem's Name doesn't appear openly anywhere in the text. How natural can you get? And yet the Vilna Gaon says that in every single verse the divine providence of Hashem can be seen! Like we said, just as the snake spoke slanderous, so too did Haman. He convinces Achashveirosh to let him kill all the Jews saying, “The Jews are a people but they’re dispersed. It ain’t natural. Their laws are different from anyone else’s. It ain’t natural. They don't follow the king rules. There is nothing natural about them! What role do they play in our natural world? They pay a few taxes? I'll pay their taxes."
A Midrash from Parshas Nassoh states, "Rebbi Pinchas said, 'Two enemies of Israel were not cursed until 70 verses were read over them.' Which two? The snake and Haman." From 'Breishis barah,' the first words of the Torah, till 'on your belly,' the curse G-d gave to the snake, is 70 verses! From Megilah 3:1, 'Achashveirosh promoted Haman...and advanced him...', till 7:10, 'So they hanged Haman on the gallows...' is 70 verses! Hold this thought!
Gemorah Megilah states, "Ravah says, 'One is obligated to drink till he
doesn't know the difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed
Mordechai.'" We know the curse of Haman came over 70 verses. What about the
blessing of Mordechai? From 6:1, "That night sleep eluded the king..."
(which is the "nehapuch hu" from Haman's rise to Mordechai's rise), till
10:3, "Mordechai the Jew was viceroy to king Achashveirosh..." is 76
verses! The difference between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordechai
is six verses.
SIX!?! The letter 'VAV'!!!
We have to drink till we don't know the 'VAV'! We have to drink till we don't know the first 6 days of creation! We have to drink till we don't know the 'nature' of the world! We have to drink till we don't know that things are cyclical or statistical or happenstance! In other words, We have to drink till we say, "G-d, help me!" We have to drink till we say, "I'm out of control!" We have to drink till we say, "Who's in charge here!? I'b been waitin' 15 segonds for my nest dring!!!!!!"
And why don't the women have to drink? Because all they have to do is look at the husband's and they KNOW there is a G-d running the world!
WOA! A flash of inspiration in your merit! We have to drink till we are nehapuch hu. Nehapuch the 'HU'! 'Hu' is spelled 'hey'-'vav'-'aleph'. The center is the 'vav'! The peripheral are, 'hey' + 'aleph'. Turn it around! The 'hey' and 'aleph' become central. ‘Hey’ + 'aleph' = 5 + 1 = 6! G-d is One, the aleph, and Rashi in Breishis 2:4 says the world was created with the letter 'hey'! There's your 6! There’s your ‘nature’! Its all G-d running the world. Woooweee! Baruch Hashem! A round for the house on me!!!
Speaking of Breishis, 21:8 says, "Avraham made a great feast on the day Yitschak was weaned." The satan said to Hashem, "Look at this self indulgence. And does he offer any korbanos- sacrifices to You?" Hashem said, "Avraham would offer even his own son to Me." The Satan asked to be able to test Avraham and G-d allowed it. Achashveirosh knew this and he knew his predecessor, Belshatsar, blew it too. Achashveirosh wasn't going to take chances. At his feast we were introduced to 7 of his servants, who, Gemorah Megillah says, had names symbolizing korbanos! Achashveirosh’s tribute to Hashem! The Gemorah says the name of the 4th, Tarshish, was the name of one of the 12 precious stones in the ephode of the High Priest, donated by the Tribal princes of Bnei Yisrael. But wasn’t Achashveirosh wearing the garments of the high priest? He was wearing a tarshish. Why did he feel the need to represent one with a name when the real thing was right below his dribbling chin???
The Rabbainu Bechayah in Shmos (last week’s parsha) goes through the 12 precious stones, which tribe they represented, and what sgulah's- special merits, are attributed to each stone. He says the tarshish was from the Tribe of Asher. What was it's s'gulah? Digesting food!! Someone with heart burn could hang a tarshish around their neck and feel better. But for a 180 day feast??? Wearing it wasn't enough! Achashveirosh ground it up and made the first bicarbonate of soda. Achashveirosh would say, “I carvin’ de ephodah.”
Midrash Rabbah says the Tribe of Asher used to provide the wives for the High Priest. Achashveirosh, destroyed the stone of Asher in the ephode and therefore lost his wife!
BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!!
A HAPPY FREILICH PURIM!!
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