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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Inside Purim’

Inside Purim: Even More Fascinating And Intriguing Insights On Purim And The Megillah

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

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Ever wonder?

Why is Purim not celebrated on the 13th of Adar when the Jewish people were victorious over their enemies, but instead on the 14th of Adar when they rested? Jews do not rejoice at another’s demise, even if that person is a rasha or an enemy. Instead, we celebrate our salvation and our being uplifted. Based on this idea, our simchas Purim is not about the revenge against Haman and his cronies, but rather about our survival against all odds. As such, Purim was established on the 14th, the day we rested from fighting and realized our salvation, not on the 13th when we defeated our enemies. (Manos HaLevi)

 

Why are Hamantaschen eaten on Purim? One of the main themes of Purim is that of V’nahafoch hu, the “turnabout.” The story represents not only salvation from our enemies, but a complete reversal and interchanging of situations for the parties involved. The Jews switched from being completely dominated by their enemies to completely dominating them. There are many avenues through which Hashem could have caused His plan to come about. On Purim, Hashem used Haman, the very person who desired to destroy Hashem’s people, to actually bring about their salvation. Haman’s decree to annihilate the Jews caused a massive teshuvah movement and recommitment to the Torah; culminating in the hanging of Haman on the same gallows he had built to execute Mordechai. We eat Hamantaschen on Purim, a sweet cookie named after the bitter Haman, to symbolize the V’nahafoch hu of Haman and his evil actions turning into the source of sweetness and nourishment for Jewish survival. (Rabbi David Aaron)

 

How is Mordechai a hero, when it was his refusal to bow to Haman that led to Haman’s desire to annihilate the Jewish people? In general, one is not only permitted, but required to transgress mitzvos and Torah obligations in a situation where life is at risk (see Sanhedrin 74a). However, with the severe sins of murder, idolatry and immorality, one is required to give his life rather than transgress. The Chofetz Chaim explains that although it might seem as if Mordechai should have bowed to Haman because Haman was known to be a big anti-Semite, and, as such, refusing to bow would severely threaten Jewish lives, that is not the case. Haman carried an idol on his person, making bowing to him the equivalent of bowing to an idol, one of the three transgressions that may not be transgressed even under threat of death. Therefore, even though Mordechai realized the danger, he could not bow in this situation. He continued to hold his ground for this same reason even when his fellow Jews begged him to appease Haman after the evil plan was made known.

The Chofetz Chaim explains that one should never, chas v’shalom, think that keeping the Torah can result in suffering, because it cannot. Nothing can be more illustrative of this point than the Purim story. In the end, not only did nothing happen to Klal Yisrael, but Mordechai’s steadfast adherence to the Torah resulted in a tremendous salvation in which Haman and his sons were killed, 75,000 Amalekim and many more of the enemies of the Jews were wiped out, and the Jews were able to live in joy and tranquility. The Midrash teaches that when Hashem created the world He looked into the Torah and used it as a blueprint (Bereishis Rabbah 1:1). In other words, knowing all that would occur in the future, Hashem created the world with the Torah in mind. He considered all future scenarios, so that adherence to the Torah would not only never cause suffering in any situation that would arise (big or small), but would in actuality cause goodness and salvation on every personal, national and global level.

Therefore, Mordechai was in fact a very great Jewish hero. He not only brought about the destruction of our enemies and the salvation of the Jews through his unshakable commitment to the Torah, but he also effected a tremendous Kiddush Hashem, sanctification of Hashem’s Name, by demonstrating to the Jews, and making them realize, that one can never ever go wrong by following the Torah. This new perception on the part of the Jews resulted in tremendous simcha, and prompted their voluntary reacceptance of the Torah on Purim with love. (Shalmei Todah)

 

Why did Haman want to kill all the Jews in response to Mordechai’s refusal? The Meggilah says וּמָרְדֳּכַי לֹא יִכְרַע, which literally translates as “and Mordechai will not bow,” in the future tense (Esther 3:2). This comes to hint that in every generation there will be one person in Klal Yisrael who will refuse to bow in this way. Haman understood this, and realized that even if he killed Mordechai there would always be some other Jew who would defy him. So he decided to not only kill Mordechai, but to also destroy the entire עַם מָרְדֳּכָי- nation of Mordechai (Esther 3:6), so that the defiance would end. (Sfas Emes)

Inside Purim: Insights On Purim And The Megillah

Friday, February 24th, 2012

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Ever wonder?

Why is there a custom to dress up on Purim? Chazal explain that the threat on Purim was not really a threat at all. It was only the appearance of a threat, for in the end, Bnei Yisrael were not exterminated. Many years before the story of Purim took place, Nevuchadnetzar, the Babylonian ruler who destroyed the first Beis HaMikdash, forced Bnei Yisrael to bow to his idol (Daniel 3:3). The Jews did so, but only because they were coerced, and only for appearance’s sake. In their hearts, they were with Hashem. As punishment for this sin, middah k’neged middah, as a justified punishment, Hashem made only an appearance of a threat at Purim (Megillah 12a). Just as the hearts of Bnei Yisrael as they bowed to Nevuchadnetzar’s idol were with Hashem, so too the heart of Hashem was with Bnei Yisrael on Purim, and no calamity resulted. We dress up on Purim, often in the garb of goyim, to show that even though we sometimes sin and act like them, it is only an outward appearance. In truth, our hearts are always with Hashem.

(The Bnei Yissaschar)

Why is Purim named after the Persian word for lottery, “pur,” instead of its Hebrew counterpart “goral”? As a reminder of the great redemption from Egypt, the Torah begins the counting of the months from the month in which yetzias Mitzrayim occurred (see Shemos ch.12). Thus each month is called after its number place in the calendar counting from then (i.e. “The First Month,” “The Second Month,” etc…). However, when Bnei Yisrael returned from the Babylonian exile to build the second Beis HaMikdash, they brought with them the Babylonian names for the months (i.e. “Nissan,” “Iyar,” Sivan,” etc.), and we use these names to this day. The Ramban (Shemos 12:2) explains that just as the numerical names for the months were used to remind us of yetzias Mitzrayim, so too were the Babylonian names retained to serve as a permanent reminder of Hashem’s great redemption of Bnei Yisrael from the Babylonian exile. Following through on this idea, the Persian name “Purim” is used as a permanent reminder of the great miracle of Purim that Hashem wrought for us when we were in the exile of Persia-Media, and serves to publicize it as well.

(The Chasam Sofer)

What exactly does Taanis Esther commemorate, and why is it named after Esther? The fast commemorates the fasting Bnei Yisrael undertook before going to battle with their enemies on the 13th of Adar (see Mishna Berurah 686:2(2)). When Am Yisrael heads into battle, they do not rely on their physical might, nor the strength of their weaponry. Instead, they know that their lives and success are in the hands of Hashem, and as such, always fast and appeal to Hashem to grant them mercy and success. However, halachah teaches (Orach Chaim 571:3) that when one actually goes out to battle his enemies, he is forbidden to fast for fear his strength will weaken. Therefore, Bnei Yisrael were forbidden to fast when they were actually engaged in fighting on the 13th of Adar. However, Esther did fast on that day because she was protected in the confines of the palace, and did not have to go out to battle. Since she was the only person able to fast for the Jews while they did battle, the day is named after her.

(Likutei Sichos)

How does Hashem’s Name actually appear in the Megillah numerous times? The story of Megillas Esther is one in which Hashem’s hand is revealed to be manipulating all of the events – from behind the scenes – to bring about the salvation. This fact is alluded to by the Megillah in that Hashem’s Name does not explicitly appear in the text even once, yet it does appear, many times, hidden within the text – in the form of roshei teivos, first letters of words, sofei teivos, last letters of words, and gematrias. One example can be found when Esther invites Achashveirosh and Haman to the first party. There, Hashem’s Name appears in roshei teivos as follows: יָבוֹא הַמֶּלֶךְ וְהָמָן הַיּוֹם – Let the King and Haman come [to the party] today (Esther5:4), indicating that Hashem influenced these events.

(The Rokeach)

Why did the miracle occur through Esther, an orphan? The story of Purim occurred during the period of time following the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash. Exiled from Eretz Yisrael and suffering at the hands of other nations, Bnei Yisrael felt as if Hashem had, chas v’shalom abandoned them, saying “יְתוֹמִים הָיִינוּ וְאֵין אָב-we became orphans without a father” (Eicha 5:3). Hashem responded by bringing the salvation through an orphan to show that He is in fact the father of orphans, and had not, and will not ever, abandon Bnei Yisrael. The message to all generations is that we should never feel like orphans, because we always have our Father in Heaven.

(Esther Rabbah 6:7)  

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