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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Mordechai’

The Claim Of The Daughters Of Tzelaphchad

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

The Gemara in Baba Basra 119b relays the following conversation that took place in this week’s parshah: Moshe Rabbeinu was teaching the halachos of yibum when the daughters of Tzelaphchad approached him with the following question: Our father died in the midbar and did not have any sons. Why then is our mother not required to fulfill the obligation of yibum? And if the fact that he had daughters is the reason that she is not obligated to fulfill this requirement, why then can we (his daughters) not receive an inheritance – just like sons would?

The Gemara in Shabbos 96b says in the name of Rabbi Akiva that Tzelaphchad was the individual who was mekoshesh eitzim (the gatherer of wood) in the midbar on Shabbos. This act of Shabbos desecration was the reason he was put to death.

The Chasam Sofer (Teshuvos 6, likutim 56) was asked the following question: The Mordechai’s opinion is that a mummar’s wife does not fall into the category of yibum since the deceased husband is not worthy of having his name upheld. How then could the daughters of Tzelaphchad have asked that their mother be required to fulfill yibum when their father was, in Rabbi Akiva’s view, a mummar due to having been the mekoshesh? Why didn’t Moshe Rabbeinu simply answer that their father was considered a mummar, thus negating their mother’s requirement to fulfill yibum?

One answer that the Chasam Sofer offers is that the halacha of the Mordechai only applies when one dies while still a mummar, for only then is he not worthy of retaining his name. However, Tzelaphchad did teshuvah before he died and therefore his wife could fall to yibum even according to the Mordechai. We see this from the fact that the Torah listed with him all of his ancestors – who were all tzaddikim.

Another answer that the Chasam Sofer suggests is that the Mordechai’s halacha does not apply to a mummar unless he leaves the religion and joins a different one. Only such a person is not worthy of having his name upheld. But a mummar who does not leave the religion to join another one, even if he desecrates Shabbos or does avodah zarah, is still worthy of having his name upheld. Thus, even the Mordechai would agree that his wife would fall to yibum; hence Tzelaphchad’s wife was able to fall to yibum.

The Chasam Sofer also points out that the question is based on a premise that is not necessarily true. He says that it is not clear whether the mekoshesh acted in public or in private when desecrating Shabbos. Had he acted in private, he does not attain the status of a mummar. There is a machlokes as to which melachah the mekoshesh transgressed; one says he carried four amos in reshus ha’rabim, another says he cut off the branches, and a third says he was making piles. According to the opinions that he cut off the branches or that he made piles, there is no indication that he acted in public. Therefore he would not be considered a mummer and his wife could fall to yibum.

On face value it seems that the Chasam Sofer forgot a Tosafos in Sanhedrin (78b d”h lo). There Tosafos says that Moshe Rabbeinu reasoned that the mekoshesh should deserve death by stoning, since a mechalel Shabbos in public is likened to one who does avodah zarah (who is stoned). The Chasam Sofer’s father-in-law, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, understands the Tosafos to mean that he acted in public. We see this from his question on Tosafos. He asks that since according to Tosafos a mechalel Shabbos can be killed (just as one who does avodah zarah, since a mechalel Shabbos is likened to a practitioner of avodah zarah), how do we then know what Hashem’s answer to Moshe was? Perhaps Hashem agreed with Moshe that the mekoshesh should be stoned only because he acted in public, thereby likening him to one who did avodah zarah. However, one who desecrates Shabbos in private but who is not compared to one who does avodah zarah would receive death by strangulation (the form of death given when the Torah does not specify which form of death).

Rabbi Raphael Fuchs

A Little Gallows Humor

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Achashveiros of Poras, 

Beset by domestic tzoras, 

Got a quickie fivoras…

But being single again just wasn’t the same.

He needed a wife in his haim

Soon shadchanim bustled

Askanim muscled

Poor Melech A. was deep in the parsha

With dates set up from Kush to Varsha

Until the King’s own youthful valets

Said, “We have a really great idea

Let’s bring the suitable girls all here!

 

Then, from every distant Mount and Island

As far as anyone could spy land

The Empire’s maids were gathered.

Arriving in the birah

Each girl got a magnifying mirah,

Perfumes, creams, beautifying potions

Jewels, spices, aromatic lotions…

They primped and curled, used every kintz.

 

At the time of which we speak

In a part of Porus not known for chic

Lived an exiled tzaddik, Mordechai and Hadassah, his niece

It came to pass this Bas Yisroel, Esther

Was taken in the Royal Search for maidens to sequester

As time went on the King made sure

To meet each lovely maiden

Who tried her best to captivate with makeup and klaiden

Until at last it came the turn of Esther.

 

The King was smitten, dazed, undone, he said I must confester

Of all the girls you’ve brought me

It’s Esther that has caught me

She’s modest, sweet and better yet

Her beauty takes away my bret

Shnell, tune up my orchester

I’ll marry pretty Esther.

 

Note: Our heroine never mentioned to a soul that she was Jewish

Mordechai asked her not to, with her royal status newish.

 

Mordechai stuck close and contemplated the courtyard Gate

From early morn until quite late

And happened so to overhear

Two fellas talking of murdering Esther’s brand-new spouse

Right there in his Royal house

Mordechai gave Esther the crucial information

To stymie the illicit operation

Then Mordechai’s deedin the Book of Days was written.

 

Then: Achashvairosh, the King

Promoted Haman, a grubber ying.

Haman had an ego the size of Cincinnati

When people didn’t bow to him this Agagite went batty

He really hated Mordechai, 

Who just said, softly, “Hey, man, hi,”

See, Mordechai, descendant of Rochel Imainu

Would only ever bow to Tzur Yisheinu

The more he thought about the Jew the more his face would blench.

He asked his helpmeet Zeresh to design a sweet revench

Haman threw a pur, what some might call a Lot.

It told him when to kill the Jews, and ADAR hit the spot.

 

 In every corner of the world where Achashveirosh reigned

The Jews knew they were targeted, the locals not constrained

And on the thirteenth of the month their doom quite legalized

The law was irreversible, their fate well advertised

Mordechai sent word to Esther, Queen of Persia

He told her “Use your influence; it’s no time for inertia.”

She considered dolefully and then to him replied

I’ll go and see my husband, but his love for me is cooling

Please have our people fast for me, three days and nights, no fooling.

 

Then Esther went to see the King

Risking her life to do the proper thing

The King was glad to see his wife: he was as pleased as punch

Queen Esther asked, “Will you and Haman come for lunch?”

When homeward bound Haman noticed Mordechai who ignored him.

Haman anger glowed, his mood was dark, his joy was now dim

His bile kept rising higher

And all because this upright Jew refused to call him Sire

His wife devised a brilliant plan to make her Hammie happy

They’d raise a gallows to the sky and hang the Jew real snappy.

 

It happened on that very night the King insomniated

He couldn’t sleep at all though he was not inebriated

So just to pass the time until he fell asleep sedately

He had his servants read to him about what happened lately

They started with the treachery of Seresh and of Bigsan

And how the Jewish Mordechai hut everything gefixan

The King was thrilled with Mordechai and asked

What kind of Glory was bestowed upon this Patriot

Who saved my Upper Story?

 

Before the lads could answer they heard a sandal scuffing

It was Haman, with his gallows plan no wonder he was huffing

Oh Haman, good you happened by, I have an urgent matter

There is a Certain Fellow who deserves at least a platter..?

Well, Haman swelled, his buttons popped, he’d never felt more mellow

For who, if not himself could be referred to as “that Fellow”?

John Doe, Haman responded, must be robed in garments Royal

Let him ride the king’s own steed adorned with castanets and foil

A Pasha, or a Grand Vizier, must lead the Melech’s Favorite, 

Judith Mesch

Yoram Ettinger: Purim Guide for the Perplexed 2012

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

1. Purim’s historical background according to the late historian, Prof. Israel Eldad:

*Xerxes the Great – Achashverosh in Hebrew – succeeded Darius the Great and ruled the Persian Empire during 465-486 BCE, 150 years before the rise of Greek’s Alexander the Great.

*Greece was Persia’s key opponent in its expansion towards the Mediterranean and Europe, hence the alliance between Persia and Carthage, a rival of Greece.

*Greece supported Egypt’s revolt against Persian rule, which was subdued by Persia with the help of the Jewish warriors of Yeb (in Egypt) and Carthage, which had a significant Jewish-Hebrew connection (Hanibal and Barca were a derivative of the Hebrew names, Hananyah and Barak).

*Xerxes was defeated by Greece at the 480 BCE Salamis Battle, but challenged Greece again in 470 BCE.

*According to a Greek translation of the Scroll of Esther, Haman (the Agagi) was a Macedonian by orientation or by birth. Agagi could refer to Agag, the Amalekite King (who intended to annihilate the Jews) or to the Aegean Islands. Haman aspired to annihilate the Jews of Persia and opposed improved relations between Xerxes and the Jews Yeb. He led the pro-Greece and anti-Carthage orientation in Persia. Mordechai was a chief advocate of the pro-Carthage orientation.

2. Purim is celebrated on the 14th/15th days of the Jewish month of Adar.

*Adar (אדר) is the root of the Hebrew adjective Adir (אדיר glorious, awesome, exalted, magnificent). It is, also, a derivative of the Akkadian word Adura (heroism).

*Jewish tradition (Babylonian Talmud) highlights Adar as a month of happiness, singing and dancing.

*The zodiac of Adar is Pisces (fish), which is a symbol of demographic multiplication. Hence, Adar is the only Jewish month, which doubles itself during the 7 leap years, during each 19 year cycle.

*Purim is celebrated on the 14th (in non-walled towns) and on the 15th day of Adar (in Jerusalem), commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish People from the jaws of a holocaust in Persia and the 161 BCE victory of Judah the Maccabee over Nikanor, the Assyrian commander.

*Moses – who delivered the Jewish People from a holocaust in Egypt and whose burial site is unknown – was born, and died (1273 BCE) on the 7th day of Adar, which is Israel’s Memorial Day for soldiers, whose burial site is unknown.

*The events of Purim occurred following the destruction of the 1st Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (586 BCE) and the exile from Zion, during the leadership of Ezra who returned to Jerusalem, and the inauguration of the Second Temple (3rd of Adar, 515 BCE) by Ezra and Nehemiah.

*Nebuchadnezzar died in Adar 561 BCE (Jeremiah 52:31).

*Einstein published the theory of General Relativity in Adar 1916.

3. Purim’s Hebrew root is fate/destiny (פור), as well as “lottery” (to commemorate Haman’s lottery which determined the designated day for the planned annihilation of the Jewish People) “to frustrate”, “to annul”(להפר), “to crumble” and “to shutter” (לפורר), reflecting the demise of Haman.

4. Purim commemorates a Clash of Civilizations between Mordechai the Jew and Haman the Iranian-Amalekite. It constitutes an early edition of the war between Right vs. Wrong, Liberty vs. Tyranny, Justice vs. Evil, Truth vs. Lies, as were/are Adam/Eve vs. the Snake, Abel vs. Cain, Abraham vs. Sodom and Gomorrah, Jacob vs. Esau (grandfather of Amalek), Maccabees vs. Assyrians, Allies vs. Nazis, Western democracies vs. Communist Bloc, and Western democracies vs. Islamic terrorism.

5. Purim is the holiday of contradictions and tenacity-driven-optimism: Grief replaced by joy; Esther’s concealment replaced by the disclosure of her national/religious identity; Haman’s intended genocide of the Jews replaced by redemption; Haman replaced by Mordechai; national and personal pessimism replaced by optimism. A Purim lesson: Life is complex, full of contradictions, ups and downs and difficult dilemmas and worthy of principled-determination.

6. Mordechai, the hero of Purim and one of Ezra’s deputies, was a role model of principle-driven optimism in defiance of colossal odds, in the face of a global power and in spite of the Jewish establishment. He fought Jewish assimilation and urged Jews to return to their Homeland. He was endowed with the bravery of faith-driven individuals, such as Nachshon – who was the first to walk into the Red Sea before it was parted. Mordechai was a politically-incorrect statesman and a retired military leader, who practiced “disproportionate pre-emption” instead of defense, deterrence or retaliation.

*The first three Hebrew letters of Mordechai (מרדכי) spell the Hebrew word Rebellion (מרד), which is consistent with the motto/legacy of the American Founding Fathers: “Rebellion against Tyrants is Obedience to G-D.”

*Mordechai did not bow to Haman, the second most powerful person in the Persian Empire. He was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, the only son of Jacob who did not bow to Esau.

*The name Mordechai is also a derivative of Mordouch, the chief Babylonian god.

*Mordechai was a descendant of King Saul, who defied a clear commandment (to eradicate the Amalekites) and spared the life of Agag, the Amalekite king, thus precipitating further calamities upon the Jewish People. Consequently, Saul lost his royal position and life. Mordechai learned from Saul’s error. He destroyed Haman, a descendant of Agag the Amalekite, and Haman’s entire power base, thus sparing the Jewish People a major disaster.

Yoram Ettinger

The Megillah: How-To Manual on Defeating Anti-Semites

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Throughout the entire Scroll of ESTHER, God’s Name does not appear even once. Upon a casual reading, it would seem that Haman, Ahashverosh, Mordechai, and Esther are fully responsible for the events taking place within the narrative. Intrigue, human jealousies, and political machinations all account for the twists and turns within the Megillah as events of great significance to the Jewish Nation unfold.

After completing the story, however, it becomes clear that the juxtaposition of all the coincidences is nothing short of miraculous as God’s Hand becomes visible through the thin veil of history. It is important to note that the events described in ESTHER took place over a period spanning roughly ten years. Ahashverosh’s party took place in 3395, Haman drew the lots in 3404 and Israel won our victory in 3405 (dates according to Seder HaDorot). Living through that period, one would probably not have noticed anything extraordinary taking place as everything was unfolding according to the laws of nature. There was nothing especially supernatural about the process that we retroactively understand as having been miraculous.

Our Sages teach in the Jerusalem Talmud (Brachot 1:1) that we must look at the Purim story as a model to understand the final Redemption process. Through the epic story of mankind, HaShem weaves the Redemption of Israel. When making the effort to closely examine our own times, we can see God orchestrating the historic events – large and small – that have brought Israel back to our borders and are bringing the world ever closer to perfection.

We celebrate Purim today with great joy because we are familiar with the story’s victorious ending. The Hebrews of ancient Persia, however, had clearly found themselves in a very frightening situation. Persia’s Jews were faced with the threat of complete annihilation. And Mordechai – who Israel today praises as a national hero – may have been much less appreciated in his own generation. A superficial reading of ESTHER can even lead one to attribute Mordechai blame for placing his people in such a terrifying position.

“All the king’s servants at the king’s gate would bow down and prostrate themselves before Haman, for so had the king commanded concerning him. But Mordechai would not bow and would not prostrate himself.” (ESTHER 3:2)

The rabbinic leadership of Shushan at the time strongly condemned Mordechai’s refusal to bow before Haman. Comfortable with life outside of their homeland, they feared Mordechai might provoke Persian Jew-hatred and spoil their enjoyable Diaspora existence. But according to our commentators, Haman either engraved the image of an idol on his robes (Ibn Ezra) or attributed to himself the powers of a deity (Rashi). Because it is well known that the Torah commands one to die rather than bow before a false god, the condemnation of Mordechai seems somewhat unjustified.

The Maharal of Prague clarifies the rabbinic position in Ohr Hadash by explaining that Mordechai went out of his way to appear before Haman in order to purposefully demonstrate that he would not bow, thus creating an otherwise avoidable confrontation. The Sages record how the Jews of Persia reacted.

“They said to Mordechai, `Know that you are putting us at the mercy of that evil man’s sword!'” (Agadat Esther 3:2; Megillah 12:2, commentary of the Radvaz)

“So the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordechai, `Why do you disobey the king’s command?’ Finally, when they said this to him day after day and he did not heed them, they told Haman, to see whether Mordechai’s words would avail; for he had told them that he was a Jew.” (ESTHER 3:3-4)

A close reading of the Megillah reveals that Mordechai’s refusal to bow before Haman was not an isolated incident. Rather, he had gone out of his way several times in order to walk near the minister and publicly antagonize him. Because Mordechai could have easily avoided the situation but instead engaged in actions that were deliberately confrontational, Shushan’s Jewish leaders seem justified in their condemnation.

Even when Mordechai saw that “Haman was filled with wrath” (ESTHER 3:5), he continued to intentionally provoke the viceroy. Based on his actions and the Talmud’s teaching (Pesachim 64b) that a person is forbidden from relying on miracles, one could easily argue that Mordechai behaved irresponsibly with the lives of his people. The Maharal, however, defends Mordechai (in Ohr Hadsash), asserting that challenging Israel’s enemies ultimately leads to the sanctification of God’s Name.

The Midrash recounts that Mordechai explained to Haman that the reason he would not bow was that he was born of kings from the tribe of Binyamin. Haman countered, “But Yaakov, Binyamin’s father, bowed before Esav, my ancestor.” Mordechai answered him in turn, “Yes, but that was before Binyamin was born. He was born in Eretz Yisrael, and his soul, therefore, was an elevated soul. He would not bow down before others.” (Esther Rabbah 7:9)

Yehuda Hakohen

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

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Click for more Inside Purim.

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 מָרְדֳּכָיnation of Mordechai (Esther 3:6), so that the defiance would end. (Sfas Emes)

Aryeh Pinchas Strickoff

Bully To You, Haman

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Purim is just a few days away, and Jews young and old are gearing up to celebrate this most festive of holidays, during which all will eat, drink and nosh merrily and in great relief over our come-up-from-behind triumph against a vicious Jew hater whose goal was to annihilate the Jewish people, but who instead had the tables turned against him in a dramatic and unforeseen manner.

But there is another albeit unheralded aspect to Purim, one that is not so obvious, but nonetheless teaches a timeless lesson – that of standing up to and defying the bullies who try to intimidate you into subjugating your will to theirs. Often bullies are physically stronger than their victims; others can make your life miserable because they wield financial or political clout. Some bully out of a misguided belief that they are doing you a favor by imposing their agenda on you; some are so beset with low self-esteem that they need to push another down, so as to elevate themselves; others are just plain nasty and evil and get a perverse pleasure in seeing others suffer.

Haman’s descendants, the Nazis, are the undisputed poster boys for bullies. No person of goodwill can come away unmoved at the image of white bearded, refined rabbis scrubbing city sidewalks – with a rifle pointed at their head by a sneering, gloating SS guard.

Haman himself was a self-loving narcissist with a very high opinion of himself, who insisted that all inhabitants of the empire who crossed his path bow to him. Mordechai, the hero of the Purim story, refused to do so; he would not succumb to the whims of a bully whose extreme hubris dictated that he, a Jew, desecrate his religion. Jews only bow down to Hashem.

Mordechai, as the Maccabees of the Chanukah saga, was defiant of the pressure, both physical and social, to conform and submit to the demands of the gentile “machers” who were in control. This simple Yid could have taken the path of least resistance, the easy way out – simply by complying. What would be the big deal, after all, to bending your back? Mordechai could have even justified doing so by saying he was obligated to obey the law of the land – or could have even viewed doing so as pikuach nefesh.

But he instead refused to be bullied into doing what he did not want to do – and would not budge from his stance, despite the very likely dire consequences. Instead he fought back with the best weapon he had available to him, communal prayer, and his niece, Esther.

Mordechai, as we all know, ultimately triumphed and came out on top, thereby imparting the heartening message that going against the stronger, the richer, the more connected, is not necessarily a lost cause. Even if you fail to remove the bully from your orbit, you might make him/her think twice before he/she starts up with you.

My twin brother and I were quite small for our age, and often we were hit or pushed and shoved by classmates, the kids on the street, and the ones who endured the same long, boring bus ride to and from our distant day school. I very quickly learned that being picked on, teased (I had a very noticeable lisp) and even punched several days a week was inevitable – but it did not have to be a one way street. I gave back almost as good as I got, and I am sure that there are several paunchy, graying rascals with faded, fine scars caused by my fingernails, my most accessible weapon.

To this day however, I deeply regret that I only addressed the bullies who were my peers. We were a generation raised to respect our elders – it was unthinkable to stand up to adults. You had to be polite, quiet and never defiant, even if they insulted you or hurt your feelings by saying something derogatory, like calling you ‘fatty’. Even if they physically hurt you, a child had to pretty much grin and bear it.

I had and still have big bekalach (Yiddish for round cheeks) and for many years endured having them pinched and twisted until I could barely contain my sobs. (You couldn’t embarrass THE GROWNUPS, by letting on they were hurting you.) I don’t know why it was considered ok back then for men to grab a piece of your face with their thumb and index fingers and twist it as hard as they could. The more “discomfort” you showed, the harder they twisted, seemingly getting much enjoyment out of doing so.

How I wish I had thrust my kneecap in a way that would have immediately brought to their attention just how unpleasant pain can be. Perhaps that would have motivated them to keep their bullying hands to themselves. You could kickback a kid who kicked you, but you never defended yourself against a grownup in those days.

Cheryl Kupfer

Understanding The Mitzvah Of Megillah

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Why is the megillah read in Jerusalem on the l5th day of Adar, in New York on the 14th day of Adar and in Safed and Hebron on the 14th and the 15th of Adar? On what day does an American tourist read the megillah in Jerusalem and when does an Israeli tourist read the megillah in New York? Why is the megillah read twice during the same day, once at night and once during the day? If one can only attend one reading of the megillah, which should one choose? Why does Purim outside of Israel never occur on Shabbat? When Purim in Israel occurs on Shabbat, why is the megillah read on Friday? Can the megillah be recited in English? Can the mitzvah of listening to the megillah be fulfilled over the telephone or the radio? Can a loudspeaker be used?

Those who reside in a city, such as Jerusalem, which was surrounded by a wall in the days of Joshua, recite the megillah on the 15th day of Adar. Those who reside in cities – such as Safed and Hebron – about which there is uncertainty as to whether they were surrounded by a wall in the days of Joshua, are required to read the megillah both on the 14th and the 15th days of Adar. Residents of all other cities recite the megillah on the l4th day of Adar. The reason for this distinction is that in Shushan itself the battle continued on through the 14th day and Purim was celebrated on the 15th. Because Shushan was a walled city in Mordechai’s day, all other walled cities celebrate Purim on the 15th day of Adar. But out of deference to the cities of Israel, most of which had been destroyed before Mordechai’s time, the relevant time chosen by the Sages to determine whether a city was surrounded by a wall was the time of Joshua.

A tourist in Jerusalem who originally planned to leave Jerusalem prior to the 15th day of Adar recites the megillah in Jerusalem on the 14th day of Adar even if, contrary to his original plans, he still finds himself in Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar. If, however, such a person originally intended to be in Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar, he recites the megillah in Jerusalem on the 15th. Conversely, a resident of Jerusalem visiting New York who originally planned to return to Jerusalem prior to the 14th day of Adar recites the megillah in New York on the 15th day of Adar, even if, contrary to his plans, he still finds himself in New York on the 14th day of Adar. If, however, such a person originally intended to be in New York on the 14th of Adar, he recites the megillah in New York on the 14th of Adar.

Reciting the megillah on the day of the fifteenth has greater significance than reciting the megillah at night on the eve of the fifteenth. This is because the daytime reading was instituted by Mordechai and Esther whereas the nighttime reading was subsequently instituted by the rabbis. Accordingly, if circumstances force one to choose one reading over the other, most authorities agree that one should attend the daytime reading. Others argue that rule of ein ma’avirim al hamitzvot, (do not offend a mitzvah by postponing it) requires that one choose the nighttime reading.

Because Yom Kippur can never occur on a Friday, the 14th day of Adar can never occur on a Shabbat. If the 15th day of Adar occurs on a Shabbat, the megillah is read in Jerusalem on a Friday. This is out of the dual concern that people would carry the megillah in the streets and would not be able to give money to the poor on Shabbat.

One can fulfill the mitzvah of listening to the megillah as long as one hears the voice of the person reciting the megillah on one’s behalf. Most poskim agree, therefore, that listening to a live broadcast of the megillah over the radio or the telephone is unacceptable because you are listening to an electronic transmission of the reader’s voice rather the voice itself. According to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a microphone is unacceptable. This is because, according to his understanding, the membrane of the microphone absorbs the human voice and then emits an electronic version of it.

According to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, however, a microphone is halachically acceptable because the transmission is simultaneously activated by the human voice. Rav Yosef concedes that a microphone may be used to amplify the reader’s voice in a case where the reader’s voice would still be audible without it.

Raphael Grunfeld

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/all-about-the-mitzvah-of-megillah-megillah-4a-and-4b/2012/02/29/

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