We spent last Shabbat with my parents in Herzliya. On Shabbat morning, Rabbi Yehuda Butman of the “Oneg Shabbat” synagogue, said the following:
“I want to speak about three invisibles!” he declared.
The first invisible is Moshe Rabbeinu. He does not appear in the Torah portion of Tetzaveh that we just read. This is the only parasha from the time he is born until he passes away in which his name is not found. It’s as if the Torah renders him invisible and insignificant and yet his very absence demonstrates his importance and what he represents. After the sin of the golden calf, the nation of Israel was in danger of destruction and Moshe Rabbeinu was ready to have his name erased from the Torah if that was needed to save his people. His absence in the Torah portion is a reminder of that willingness to be removed from the story of his people due to his love for them.
The second ‘invisible’ is G-d. In Megillat Esther that we read last week on Purim, the name of G-d does not appear even once. It’s as if He does not play a part in the story. But actually, if we look beneath the surface, we find that He is the director, the true hero behind the scenes. He directs all the twists and turns in the Purim story. All the little details that seem unconnected come together at the end of the story to show the important contribution of each and every one of them to the miraculous salvation of our people.
The third invisible is Jewish unity. It would appear that we are hopelessly divided, especially at this time. But things are not always as they seem. Just the other day, I was waiting at the doctor’s office and seated next to me was a young man with slogans on his shirt that clearly showed his opinion of people like me… yet after we began to talk, it was difficult for us to stop. The love between our nation is sometimes ‘invisible’ but it is always there, we need only look beneath the surface.
May we merit to give a second, deeper look, to take off our shells, and to reveal what is invisible on the outside but eternally present within”
What Will We Take With Us From Purim?
Happy Purim from Jerusalem! Wednesday was Shushan Purim, named for the fact that the fighting in Shushan, a walled city, lasted a day longer than elsewhere and so Jerusalem, also a walled city (from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun), celebrates Purim a day later than everywhere else.
- Rav Kook writes how significant it is to remember that Jerusalem’s special status as an ancient walled city means its observance of Purim has a date – the 15th of Adar – all to itself. A city of such stature cannot be kept in subjugation. The fact that today those of us who live in Jerusalem celebrate Purim a day later than everyone else teaches us something about ourselves and about the unique status of the city we call home.
- I read in the book Seridei Eish that there are mitzvot observed on Purim that we should take with us and repeat throughout the year – matanot l’evyonim (gifts for the poor) and mishloach manot (sending portions of food and drink to friends and others). These mitzvot are a cry to pay attention to those in need and to preserve social and communal ties. We should not regard this giving as a once-a-year phenomenon, but as a way of life.
- And what about our attitude once Purim is over? Is our joyfulness over too? In the Talmud we are told: “When Adar enters, our joy increases.” Yet if at the beginning of this month our joy increases, it does not need to decrease when Purim is over. On the contrary, our joy is meant to continue for the rest of this month and beyond.
From Jerusalem to the rest of the world: May everyone experience an abundance of joy.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin