Besides being famous for his role in the Purim story, Mordechai HaTzaddik was one of the members of Anshei Knesset Hagdola – men of the Great Assembly. He was a man endowed with heavenly wisdom and vision and he used these gifts to benefit his people and to work for the resurgence of Torah in the dark days immediately following Galus Bavel and the return to Eretz Yisrael.
When Bnei Yisrael returned to their homeland they were a poor and weak group of people. Because of the great number of enemies and wild animals that had inhabited the land during their exile, they huddled together in a few areas, like Yerushalayim, in order to find protection.
Because of this, the vast areas of former farmland were left neglected and their whereabouts were virtually unknown.
Time Of The Omer
As Pesach arrived that first year, it was time to cut the Omer. The people were dismayed to find that there was not a Kohen among them who knew where a barley field could be found. And so a call went out among the people:
“Any man who knows where the barley grew, come forward and inform the Elders!”
Just as it appeared that no one would come forward, a man approached the Kohanim and the elders who had gathered; he indicated that he was a mute, unable to speak. As the people watched, he approached a little sukkah whose roof was made of sticks. Raising his right hand he pointed to the roof of sticks, and placing his left hand on the sticks, nodded his head as if indicating an answer to those assembled.
The Kohanim looked at each other in puzzlement. What did the mute mean? What was he trying to say?
Mordechai HaTzaddik sitting there with the other elders stared at the mute and pondered his actions.
“The sticks,” he said to himself, “are called ‘tzrifin’ by the people and the roof
is called ‘gag.’ Perhaps there is some place that was formerly known as Gag Tzrifin?”
Turning to some of the assembled people he asked:
“Is there a place that is known as Gag Tzrifin or something similar sounding?”
“There is a place that was formerly called Gagos Tzrifin,” answered one of the crowd.
“In that case let us go to where it once was and see if barley grows there and if it is the place to which the mute alluded,” said Mordechai.
They found barley growing and they cut the Omer as they had been commanded.
The Sacred Bread
As Shavuos approached, the need for the sacred bread was apparent and once again a problem arose. The bread had to be made from wheat and again there was no one among the Elders or the Kohanim who knew where such a field could be found.
Once again, the call went out to the people for someone who knew where the
proper field could be found. And once again the mute came to impart the information.
This time he stood before the Elders and placed one hand over his eyes while putting the other over a hole that had been sealed. Standing there he once again indicated that he had given the answer.
The Kohanim were even more puzzled now then before. What could this possibly
Mordechai Discovers The Meaning
Once again, Mordechai pondered the meaning of the mute’s actions.
“He has covered his eyes and a sealed hole. Is there a place in Judea which is
known by such a name, perhaps something like Eyn Sacher?”
It seems there was and when they arrived there, they found the wheat they sought.
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