web analytics
April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Purim And The Joy Of Life


The-Shmuz

“To the Jews there was light, happiness, joy and honor” – Esther 8:16

“Rav Yehudah said: Light is Torah, happiness is yom tov, joy is milah, and honor is tefillin” – Megillah 16b

In the eighth year of Achashveirosh’s rule, on the thirteenth of Adar, every Jewish man, woman and child was to be slaughtered. Young or old, wealthy or poor, they were counted as one, and on that fateful day the Jewish people would cease to be. According to the ways of the world, and according to the natural course of events, that is what should have happened.

But it didn’t. In the greatest reversal of fortune, the tables were turned and the Jews were saved. In a heartbeat, they went from death to life, from despondency to hope, from being sheep led to the slaughter to having Mordechai Ha’Tzaddik paraded through the streets of Shushan. The people had lived through an astonishing miracle, and they experienced great joy. “And the Jews of Shushan were jubilant and celebrated.”

Yet, when the Gemara describes their elation, it seems to leave out the issue of life and death. Where the megillah says, “To the Jews there was light, happiness, joy and elation,”Chazal interpret it to mean, “The Jews had Torah, yom tov, milah and tefillin,” as if to say the reason the Jews were celebrating was because they again had the opportunity to do these mitzvahs. The issue of their being granted their lives doesn’t seem to weigh into the equation; it as if the Gemara is saying that their entire celebration and their source of joy was that they were now again able to perform these mitzvahs.

This is very difficult to understand. Granted, these might be additional reasons to celebrate, but isn’t life a much greater reason? They were going to die, and Hashem saved them. Isn’t that the greatest cause for celebration and giving thanks to Hashem?

To understand this, let’s fast forward to a modern-day rags to riches story.

Born in 1934, Sheldon Adelson was the son of Ukrainian immigrants. His father drove a taxi and his mother ran a knitting shop. He grew up in one of the poorest sections of Boston. But even as a young boy he showed great ambition, first selling newspapers on the street corner, and then running his first business at the age of twelve. He went on to build over fifty businesses, eventually owning the Venetian Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He became a very wealthy man.

But funny thing happened to Sheldon Adelson in 2003 when he took the Sands Corporation public. The stock skyrocketed, and his assets went from 1.4 billion dollars to 20 billion dollars in a year and a half. Forbes Magazine estimates that during this time his wealth increased at the rate of a million dollars an hour.

A million dollars an hour is a tidy sum of money. To illustrate what that means, imagine that during this time he sat down to a nice leisurely lunch. When he got up and walked away, he was a million dollars richer. Or if he went for a dip in the pool, by the time he had dried his hair, he was seven hundred fifty thousand dollars wealthier. If he took a nice Shabbos nap, by the time he woke up another three million dollars were in his coffers.

Extremely wealthy people describe getting rich as exhilarating – almost intoxicating. It seems that having wealth is nowhere near as much fun as acquiring it. And here this man was gaining wealth at a dizzying pace. It is difficult to imagine the sense of excitement he must have felt.

The Answer This seems to be the answer to the Gemara. When the Jews of Shushan were saved, they saw Hashem taking care of them, orchestrating events, running the world. They saw behind the veil of physicality and recognized their Creator. But more than just seeing Hashem, this experience changed their understanding of life.

Someone who has had a near-death experience is a changed man. His interests change. His value system changes. The pursuits that once gripped him lose their hold. Because he tasted death, he now looks at life differently. And he questions. Why is life so precious? What is the tragedy of death? We all die anyway. Sooner. Later. What difference does it make?

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


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 And The Joy Of Life”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Obama Stops Punishing Egypt for Dumping Muslim Brotherhood Prez
Latest Judaism Stories
Bodenheim-032715

Our ability to teach is only successful if done by example.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Outside of the High Holidays, Pesach is probably the most celebrated biblical holiday for the majority of Jews.

Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

The-Shmuz

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

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

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/purim-and-the-joy-of-life/2013/02/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: