web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Purim: Powerball vs. Pisces

Winiarz-031414-Powerball

Purim is a very strange holiday. Most Yomim Tovim have a fairly similar structure – a particular historical narrative is highlighted to serve as the springboard for us to focus on a specific area of Judaism and grow in that area. On the whole, the historical narratives contain out-of-the-ordinary and supernatural occurrences, if only because they reveal a higher reality which we subsequently try to incorporate into our own reality. That is to say, the miraculous plagues in Egypt enable us to recognize Hashem’s mastery over nature on Pesach, while the Revelation at Har Sinai creates a yearly renewal of the covenant with the Jewish people on Shavuos. We live in a sukkah for one week every year in an effort to incorporate the lessons of the Clouds of Glory in which G-d housed us and we light the menorah to instill within ourselves the eternal message of the miracle of Chanukah.

Purim, however, stands out in that it is the only celebratory holiday on which there are no supernatural events commemorated. That is because there were no supernatural events in the Purim story. While as Jews we believe that all of the events were orchestrated by Hashem, one who wants to could chalk the Purim story up to sinister schemes, clever political machinations, and a hefty dose of good luck.

All other holidays recall incontrovertible evidence of G-d’s hand. Thus, it is beneficial to publicize the miracle. But if His hand is hidden here, then what can be gained by re-telling the story?

Before attempting to answer this question, let’s take a detour. A large portion of the Megillah centers on Haman Ha’Agagi. This Persian prime minister was not your run-of-the-mill Jew-hater. Haman was a member of the nation of Amalek, a people who the Torah labels as our worst enemy. Not only that, the Torah commands us to wipe Amalek off the face of the earth, leaving no remnant behind. Why is this so? Over the centuries, many nations have tried to do away with us, but there isn’t a mitzvah to eradicate the Egyptians, Babylonians, or Greeks. What is it about Amalek that is so intolerable?

Let’s add one more question. The mazal of Adar is dagim, which is literally translated as fish but is more commonly known as Pisces. What is the relationship between Purim and Pisces? In what way is Purim related to fish?Winiarz-031414-Pisces

I think the first step in answering these questions would be to analyze the timeline of the Megillah. The entire sefer takes only 45 minutes to read, and all the events are listed in very close proximity. This may lead one to believe that the story took place over a short period of time, but that is not true. The events of the Megillah are spread out over a span of close to ten years, with the feast occurring in the third year of Achashverosh’s reign and Esther’s appointment taking place in the seventh. Mordechai foiled the assassination plot only some time after Esther settled in the palace, while Haman’s plot to kill the Jews took place in the 12th year of Achashverosh’s reign! Why is the Megillah written in a way that gives off the impression that the events happened in quick succession when in reality that’s not true?

What makes this question even more stark is the wording of the first verse in the 3rd perek of the Megillah. “Achar ha’devarim ha’eileh – After these events occurred Achashverosh [proceeded] to elevate Haman.” In the Holy Tongue there are no synonyms. Each word has a precise connotation. The words “achar and “acharei” both mean “after.” However, achar means “after a short period of time” while acharei means “after a long period of time.” Why are we given the impression that the events in this perek took place shortly after the events of the previous perek, when in reality they took place a few years later?

About the Author: Shaya Winiarz is a student of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (a.k.a Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim). He is also a columnist, freelance writer, and public speaker. He can be reached for questions, speaking engagements, or freelance writing at shayawiniarz@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Purim: Powerball vs. Pisces”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
An Arab sheikh hands out flowers in a gesture of brotherhood and good will.
Haifa U Research Confirms, ‘Think Good & It Will Be Good!’
Latest Judaism Stories
Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

Rabbi Sacks

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

More Articles from Shaya Winiarz
Winiarz-022715-Kids

Does Hashem ever go away and not pay attention to us?

Winiarz-Shaya-logo

What fish-like characteristics does this month have that it should be exemplified in such a way?

We must understand the power and impact of our actions.

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

When it comes to passing on Jewishness we must follow the mother – for it is she who ensures it.

One who loves can buy a factory-made knick-knack for his partner, but a personal hand-made gift is infinitely more precious.

How can the Torah command you to love somebody?

Marror is the reliving of the bitter enslavement and matzah is the under-eighteen-minutes redemption.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/purim-powerball-vs-pisces/2014/03/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: