This issue is sponsored
Vol. 15 No. 25
l'ilui nishmas Shlomo ben R' Yaakov Prenzlau
whose seventh Yohrzeit will be on 13th Adar (Ta'anis Esther),
by his children
Dr. Eli and Sheryl Prenzlau and his family n"y.
Five Sefarim - Five Korbanos
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)
The Torah uses the expression "This is the law of" five times; in connection with the Olah, the Minchah, the Chatas, the Asham and the Shelamim. Connecting this with the Chazal who teach us that whoever studies the laws of a Korban, it is as if he actually brought that Korban (a theme that we have discussed many times), the K'li Yakar equates the five Korbanos with the five Books of the Torah. Consequently, he says, someone who studies Bereishis, is considered as having studied the laws of Olah; Sh'mos … the laws of Minchah; Vayikra … the laws of Chatas; Bamidbar, the laws of Asham, and Devarim … the laws of Shelamim. How is that?
Anyone studying Seifer Bereishis will find that the Korban that Hevel brought, "from the first-born of his sheep", was an Olah. No'ach too, "sacrificed Olos on the Mizbei'ach", as did Avraham ("and he brought it up as an Olah instead of his son"), and Ya'akov ("and he brought sacrifices to the G-d of his father Yitzchak").
Someone who studies Seifer Sh'mos has ostensibly studied the laws of Minchah, seeing as all Menachos came in the form of Matzah, and it is in this Seifer that the laws of Matzah are discussed in detail, when the Torah describes the Korban Pesach, which had to be eaten together with Matzah.
Someone who studies Seifer Vayikra has in fact, studied the laws of a Chatas. Granted, all the Korbanos are discussed there. However, it is following the sin of the Eigel ha'Zahav, the first of Yisrael's major sins, that G-d granted sinners the opportunity of attaining atonement, by means of the Korbanos, most predominantly, the Chatas. Indeed, he explains, virtually all Korbanos, with the notable exception of Shelamim, are connected with sin,.
Anyone studying Seifer Bamidbar is as if he has studied the Asham, as there in Parshas Naso, the Torah discusses the Asham, when it writes "A man or a woman who performs any of the sins of man, and that soul shall be guilty (ve'oshmoh ha'nefesh ha'hi)". True, the basic Dinim of the Asham have already been discussed in Vayikra. Nevertheless, they are repeated here due to the two Chidushim that we learn there (see Rashi 5:6). Consequently, anybody who learns Seifer Bamidbar, completes all the Dinim of Asham.
Whereas a person who learns Seifer Devarim, it is as if he had studied the laws of Shelamim, since there, in Parshas Ki Savo, the Torah writes "and you shall Shecht Shelamim there (on Har Gerizim and Har Eival) and you shall eat them there". And again in Parshas Re'ei, the Torah discusses all the Dinim of Kodshim Kalim, as it writes there "and the blood of your sacrifices you shall pour on the Mizbei'ach of Hashem, and the flesh you eat". And in similar vein to what we wrote by the Asham, it is there that the Torah concludes the Parshah of Shelamim.
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Megapearls from the Megilah
(Adapted mainly from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)
A Hundred (on Land) &
Twenty-Seven (in the Sea)
" … he is Achashverosh who ruled … a hundred and twenty-seven provinces" (1:1).
The Medrash explains that a hundred of those provinces were situated on dry land, and twenty-seven, in the sea (i.e. they were islands).
This is hinted, says the Arizal, in the Pasuk at the end of the Megilah, which informs us that Achashverosh imposed a tax ("Mas" on the land, and on the islands of the sea ("Iyei ha'Yam"). The Gematriyah of "Mas", he points out, is a hundred, whilst that of "Iyei" is twenty-seven.
Exempted by Royal Decree
"Mordechai will not bow down and will not prostrate himself" (3:2).
The Pasuk writes this in the future tense, because it was part of Achashverosh's instructions - that everybody had to bow down, barring Mordechai, because he was a Jew (Divrei Shaul).
Haman the Jew!
"And they told Haman to see whether Mordechai's words would prevail, for he had told them that he was a Jew" (3:4).
The Gemara in Megilah (15a) describes how Haman had sold himself as a slave to Mordechai for a loaf of bread, and how Mordechai would constantly show Haman the document of sale to remind him of that fact. Now we know that a Cana'ani slave has to become circumcised and is obligated to observe all the Mitzvos of a Jewish woman. In that case, Haman too, was a Yehudi, which is really a general title incorporating all people who are Chayav to keep the Mitzvos of the Torah (as the Gemara explains in Megilah 13a). Consequently, what the Pasuk here means is that they wanted to see whether Mordechai's words would prevail, for he had told them that Haman too was a Jew (Chasam Sofer).
A stunning explanation to be sure. All the more so when one considers that, when Haman sent out the letters ordering the people to kill and destroy all the Jews, he was in fact, signing his own death-warrant!?
They Hated Haman
The Gemara in Megilah explains that when the ministers informed Achashverosh that Mordechai had not been rewarded for saving his life, they did not say this out of love for Mordechai, but out of hatred for Haman.
If that is so, asks the Kol Ya'akov, why did they inform Haman that Mordechai refused to prostrate himself before him? Surely this suggests that it was Mordechai whom they hated, and whom they were now trying to implicate?
Not at all, he replies. Quite to the contrary! When they asked Mordechai why he was not afraid to cross swords with a minister who was so close to the king, he replied that he was merely taking after his ancestor Binyamin (who refused to prostrate himself before Haman's ancestor, Eisav), and that he had perfect faith in his G-d, who would arrange for Haman's downfall (as the Medrash explains in detail). This intrigued them and they decided to help Mordechai achieve that end. That is what the Pasuk means when it writes " … to see if Mordechai's word would come true, since he had informed them that he was a Jew" (a virtual assurance that he was destined to witness Haman's downfall, which they now anticipated).
Splitting the Word
"And there was found that Mordechai had informed on Bigsana and Teresh … " (6:2).
Why, you may well ask, does the Pasuk refer to Bigsan as Bigsana (with an extra 'Alef')?
The Medrash explains that the royal scribes (who were the sons of Haman) actually wrote that Mordechai had reported to the king what Bigson or Teresh (Bigsan O Teresh) had done, implying that it was not known which of the two was actually guilty, and that due to the fact that both were suspect, both men were killed. However, that would mean that Mordechai had caused the death of an innocent man, rendering him unworthy of a reward.
But a miracle occurred, in that the word 'O' split into two, the 'Alef' moving to the right and the 'Vav' to the left, so that "al Bigsan O Teresh" now became "al Bigsana va'Teresh" (meaning that both the scoundrels were guilty), letting Mordechai off the hook and enabling him to receive his just reward.
Hands off the Spoil
" … and they did not lay their hands on the spoil" (9:15).
Rabeinu Bachye, commenting on the Pasuk in Beshalach (17:16) "For the hand is on the Throne of Hashem", explains that G-d made every King of Yisrael who sits on the throne swear that he would fight the battle of Hashem against Amalek. This means, he says, that the battle was for the sake of Hashem and that the spoil would all go to Hashem, and that the people would derive no benefit from it. The source for this, he adds, is the Pasuk at the end of Ki Seitzei "Wipe out the memory of Amalek" (Rashi too explains there that every animal belonging to Amalek must be destroyed, so that no-one will be able to say about any animal that it belongs to Amalek [and presumably, the same applies to all movables]).
Indeed, he goes on to explain, Mordechai was well aware of his ancestor King Shaul's fatal error in not fulfilling the above Pasuk. And that it was precisely because he brought back spoil from Amalek that he ultimately lost the throne, and that both he and his son Yonasan fell on the battlefield.
That is why Mordechai took great care to make good this mistake. And so, despite Achashverosh's express instructions to take the spoil (8:11), he gave strict instructions not to do so.
* * *
DAVENNING ON PURIM
Here is the order of Davenning surrounding the Megilah reading.
Ma'ariv The Amidah, Kadish Tiskabel, Megilah, (on Motza'ei Shabbos, vi'Yehi No'am) ve'Atoh Kodosh, Kadish Shalem (without Tiskabeil), Oleinu.
Shachris: The Amidah, Chatzi Kadish (like one does after K'ri'as ha'Torah when there is no Musaf), Megilah, ve'Atoh Kodosh & u'Vo le'Tzi'on Go'el, etc.
The reason that we recite Kadish Tiskabel after the Amidah at night-time (and not Chatzi Kadish, like in the morning), is due to the prevalent Minhag of Davening Ma'ariv before nightfall, and then waiting until nightfall before reading the Megilah, leaving a long interrupting between the two. They therefore instituted Kadish Tiskabeil at that point (even on Motza'ei Shabbos, when one Davens Ma'ariv after nightfall, in order not to create distinctions between one Ma'ariv and another ['Lo P'lug']).
In the morning, after the B'rachah following the Megilah, one says 'Shoshanas Ya'akov' (and 'Asher Heini', provided one did not say Piyutim at Shachris [Leiv Samei'ach]).
* * *
All About Poorim
(Adapted mainly from the Ta'amei ha'Minhagim)
The Meaning of 'Megilah'
The root of the word 'Megilah' is 'Hisgalus', (revelation), because it reveals how G-d leads nature (Nifla'os Chadashos quoting a certain Kadosh).
'Borei Me'orei ha'Eish'
The Beis Yosef in Si'man 298 disagrees with the Kolbo, who maintains that when one Leins the Megilah on Motza'ei Shabbos, one is first obligated to recite the B'rachah of 'Borei Me'orei ha'Eish'. In his opinion, reading the Megilah cannot be classified as a Melachah, in which case the Havdalah that one recited in the Amidah will suffice. He concludes however, that one should first say 'Baruch ha'Mavdil bein Kodesh le'Chol' (without the Name of Hashem and without mentioning Malchus [Kuntrus Acharon]). In any event, he ruled earlier that this is sufficient even to permit performing Melachah.
Ve'Atoh Kodosh …
The reason that we say 've'Atoh Kodosh' immediately after the Megilah is because it appears in Kapitel 22 in Tehilim, which, Chazal inform us, Esther recited before entering Achashverosh's Throne-Room. In fact, it follows the Pasuk "My G-d, I will cry out by day … ", which is the source for reading the Megilah both by day and by night (Minhagim).
We omit the Pasuk 'u'Vo le'Tzi'on Go'el' in the evening, says the Rokei'ach, on account of the tradition that Mashi'ach will not come at night-time.
Why do we mention Ya'akov in particular? What does he have to do with the downfall of Haman more than the other Avos?
No problem, says the Korban Ani; firstly because Ya'akov was the one to Daven for salvation against Eisav and his descendents, when he prayed to Hashem "Hatzileini No Mi'Yad achi … " ('Save me from the hand of my brother … ') - and the first letters of "Hatzileini No Mi'Yad" spell 'Haman', as the Ba'al ha'Turim points out.
And what's more, the Torah writes in connection with the gifts that he sent Eisav, "Gam es ha'Sheini, Gam es ha'Shelishi, Gam es kol ha'holchim … ". Three times "Gam", comments the Zohar, which is the acronym of 'Go'el Moshe', 'Goel Mordechai' & 'Go'el Mashi'ach' (the three redeemers who in the course of history, were destined to fight Amalek following the Torah's specifications).
Purim = Yom Kipur
The Medrash Eliyahu citing his Rebbe, writes that on Purim, G-d atones for K'lal Yisrael just like He does on Yom Kipur (indeed the Ba'alei Musar refer to Yom Kipurim as 'Yom ke'Purim'). The difference he explains, is that whereas the latter atones through fasting, the former atones through feasting.
This in turn, is because Yom-Kipur originally atoned for the sin of the Eigel, where they sinned by eating and drinking (so we fast); whereas salvation on Purim came about on account of their fasting (and it is therefore befitting for future atonements to come about through feasting). And he compares this to Chazal, who say that whoever eats and drinks on Erev Yom-Kipur it is as if he had fasted on the ninth and the tenth of Tishri.
Furthermore, following what he wrote earlier in the name of the Yad Yosef, he ascribes the Mitzvah of feasting on Purim to the fact that Purim corresponds to all the Yamim-Tovim, which one celebrates by eating and drinking.
And one final reason for the feasting is based on the Gemara in Megilah, which describes Haman's complaint to Achashverosh, that Jews always evaded paying taxes because they were constantly celebrating another holy day; 'Today is Shabbos!', 'today is Pesach!' they would say. Hashem's response was that, seeing as Haman was begrudging Yisrael the Yamim-Tovim, He would give them another one (based on his [Haman's] own demise). It therefore stands to reason that the new Yom-Tov, just like the other Yamim=Tovim, would be a day of feasting and rejoicing.
Purim = Matan Torah
The Seifer Orchos Chayim, citing the Mordechai, writes that Purim is equal to Shavu'os (just as Chazal Darshen on the Pasuk "Kiymu ve'kiblu ha'Yehudim", 'Kiymu mah she'kiblu k'var" (they established in Shushan what they had already accepted at Har Sinai).
By Day & By Night
When the Gemara in Megilah (4a) obligates the reading of the Megilah both by night and by day, R. Yehoshua ben Levi cites the Pasuk in Tehilim (22:3) "My G-d, I call by day but you do not answer; and by night, and I will not be silent"; whereas Ula refers to the Pasuk (Ibid. 30:13) "So that my Soul (Kavod) will sing to You (by day) and it will not be silent (by night) … " (See Rashi).
To explain the two opinions, a footnote (that begins 'So says the builder') cites two reasons as to why we need to read the Megilah on the two above occasions; 1. Because Esther's decree entailed fasting both by day and by night; 2. Because the salvation began in the night (when the king could not sleep), but ended by day (with Haman's wickedness being exposed).
Consequently, R. Yehoshua ben Levi cites Kapitel 22, which is ascribed to Esther (though she of course, did not compose it). Whereas Ula refers to his Soul as Kavod, a hint to the key question posed by Achashverosh "What honour was done to Mordechai … ".
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Thirty Days Before
(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)
Based on the Gemara in Pesachim (6a), which gives the starting time for asking questions and Darshening about Pesach as thirty days before Pesach, it is customary to begin learning Hilchos Pesach on Purim.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Gemara derives this ruling from Pesukim, the B'nei Yisaschar discusses the significance of thirty days in the following manner. Granted, he says, the Din of thirty days extends to all the Yamim-Tovim and even to all Mitzvos (as we find in Shekalim 2a, which gives the time for announcing the half-Shekalim as the first of Adar, even though the Mitzvah falls due only on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, and in Megilah 30a, in a dispute between Rav and Shmuel as to when the money-changers set out their tables in the Beis-Hamikdash). Yet it would seem, he says, that the initial Halachah pertains to Pesach, from which Chazal extended it to the other Mitzvos.
And, citing the Chesed le'Avraham, he explains that every year at Pesach time, G-d in His infinite mercy and kindness, avails to His children Yisrael, redemption, and that the process of this redemption begins thirty days earlier - on Purim (even if at the time, they have sunk to the lowest levels of Tum'ah).
On each of those days He raises them a little, until on the night of the fourteenth of Nisan (the night when one burns the Chametz) they are standing outside the gates of Tum'ah, and on the night of the fifteenth, they are completely free.
On that basis, the B'nei Yisaschar explains the thirty-day period leading up to Pesach. He points out that the Torah presents us with three of the Taryag Mitzvos in connection with the wiping out of Amalek, one to do with Machshavah (not to forget Amalek), one with speech (to remember him) and one to do with action (to destroy him). And the objective of these three Mitzvos is to destroy the negative aspect (the K'lipos) of the ten Midos (Chochmah Binah & Da'as; Chesed, Gevurah & Tiferes; Netzach Hod Yesod & Malchus, whose acronym is) 'ChaBaD, ChaGaT & NeHiM'; 'ChaBaD' represents thoughts; 'ChaGaT', speech & 'NeHiM', action.
Now thirty days comprise seven hundred and twenty hours, which is equivalent to the numerical value of Amalek X three. In other words, by fulfilling the three Mitzvos, one destroys Amalek and his evil influence in his entirety, in thought, deed and in action. And what's more, he points out, these three aspects are also inherent in Nefesh, Ru'ach & Neshamah (since the destruction of the negative aspect completes the positive aspect).
Moreover, he says, there are seven hundred and twenty hours in thirty days. Consequently, G-d arouses His kindness, seven hundred and twenty hours before the final redemption, to set the process in motion (particularly as the Gematriyah of Chesed X ten also equals seven hundred and twenty).
In addition, he points out that there are seven hundred and twenty combinations of the word "Bereishis" ('Olom chesed yiboneh'). Indeed, with the removal of Amalek from the world, the Creation is complete.
No wonder then, that we begin to learn Hilchos Pesach on Purim, the day which represents the wiping out of Amalek, concluding the period of preparation on Erev Pesach, the day on which by Kabbalistic tradition, the battle against Amalek and his downfall will take place - a total of seven hundred and twenty hours, equivalent to three times Amalek (representing thought, speech and action), as we explained.
And inasmuch as Amalek's influence brings darkness upon the world, it is easy to see why Chazal instituted the mitzvah of searching for Chametz (indicative of the destruction of Amalek's influence) with the light of a torch on that night, for it is on the night of the fourteenth of Nisan that we go from darkness to light.
And it also answers the popular Kashya as to why we do not recite 'Shehechiyanu' when burning the Chametz - since we already did so at the beginning of the process on Purim.
* * *
This year the residents of Yerushalayim (as well as the residents of all towns that are known to have been walled in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun) will be treated to an extended three day marathon of simchah. Known as Purim Meshulash, the marathon will begin on Thursday night, with the reading of the Megilah (just like everybody else), and will continue until Sunday, when they will send Sh'lach Monos and enjoy Se'udas Purim. On Friday, they will fulfill Matonos lo'Evyonim which always goes hand in hand with the reading of the Megilah (because the poor associate the one with the other).
The problem begins with the fact that Chazal forbade the reading of the Megilah on Shabbos (in case one comes to carry the Megilah, as one takes it to an expert to ask him how to lein). So we bring the reading of the Megilah forward to the fourteenth (it cannot be postponed, due to the Pasuk in Megilas Esther "ve'lo ya'avor" (implying that the reading of the Megilah cannot be postponed beyond the fifteenth).
Presumably, Chazal fixed Se'udas Purim for Sunday, so that it should not clash with Se'udas Shabbos (because, seeing as there is no particular obligation to eat any special food, how will one be able to distinguish between Se'udas Shabbos and Se'udas Purim?) And they fixed Sh'lach Monos for the same day, presumably, because Sh'lach Monos goes together with Se'udas Purim (though in fact, this is one of two opinions, as we shall see).
What remains is 'Al ha'Nisim', which can only be said on the fifteenth (the day on which the miracle was completed), on Shabbos, and the leining of "Va'Yovo Amolek", which we lein then too, from a second Seifer, in the form of Maftir. And the corresponding Haftarah is that of "Pokadti" from Sh'muel, the very same one that we just leined for Parshas Zochor.
The only bone of contention is that of Sh'lach Monos, which although we learned earlier, is designated for Sunday, the sixteenth, others maintain should be performed on Friday, the same day as Matanos lo'Evyonim. To satisfy both opinions, it may be a good idea to send some Sh'lach Monos on Friday and some on Sunday.
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TABLE OF PURIM MESHULASH
(For the inhabitants of Yerushalayim
and other towns that were walled
in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun)
Adapted from the Lu'ach le'Eretz Yisrael.
Reading the Megilah (Thursday night and Friday morning) & Matonos lo'Evyonim.
One also eats a little more than usual & indulges in a little extra festivity (before midday), Some make a point of giving some Sh'lach Manos both today and on Shabbos, if possible (in order to satisfy those opinions that obligate it).
No Tachanun or 'Lamnatzei'ach'.
1. 'Al ha'Nisim'.
2. Maftir: "Va'yovo Amalek" (Beshalach, Sh'mos 17).
3. Haftarah: "Pakadti" (Shmuel 1 15).
No 'Av ha'Rachamim' or Hazkaras Neshamos.
One eats a little more than usual and indulges in extra festivity.
No 'Tzidkoscho Tzedek' at Minchah.
Se'udas Purim & Sh'lach Manos.
No Tachanun or 'Lamnatzei'ach'.
'Chayav Inash Livesumi be'Purya ad de'Lo Yoda' - today … Hooray!
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