Vol. 10 No. 24
Let us see how the Seifer ha'Chinuch explains the Mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us shortly after we left Egypt (a seemingly strange Mitzvah, in light of a second Mitzvah that enjoins us to blot out their memory).
By attacking Yisrael at that point, he explains, when, following the succession of miracles in Egypt and at the Yam-Suf, every other nation was afraid of G-d's mighty Hand, he simply watered down that fear. The attack itself was not really that much different than that of the Babylonians, the Greeks or the Romans, the most prominent of the nations to attack us in the course of our stormy history. What was different, was the fact that Amalek was instrumental in paving the way for others to attack them in the future, by removing the fear that held them back.
This is precisely the lesson that Chazal set out to teach us with the parable of the hot bath into which the fool jumped, cooling it down for everybody else. And it is also what Unklus had in mind when he translated the Pasuk in Balak "Reishis goyim Amalek" as 'Amalek was the first nation to attack Yisrael'.
This is to drive home, the Chinuch concludes, the depth of G-d's hatred towards those who start up with Yisrael, and that, according to the extent of their evil and the suffering that they cause Yisrael, will be their downfall.
It seems to me though, that although this lesson certainly emerges from the current Mitzvah, there is more to it than just that. Chazal have taught us that 'All beginnings are difficult'. What they mean inter alia, is that when a Jew adopts a new Minhag or begins performing a Mitzvah or an aspect of a Mitzvah for the first time, and the first time invariably comes with problems that need to be overcome, he receives a reward far in excess of the reward that is due for the Mitzvah alone. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos teaches us that 'The reward is commensurate with the pain'. That being the case, if all beginnings are difficult, then extra reward is due for beginning something new.
In any event, we see the importance Chazal attach to beginning something new. In that case, someone who initiates a new custom or undertaking of a Mitzvah in his community, will receive more reward than those who adopt it. And this is true even if the initiator prepares the groundwork for the good deed, without actually performing it himself (much in the same way as Moshe Rabeinu prepared the cities of refuge, even though they would only become operational after the conquest of Eretz Yisrael).
Perhaps we can go one step further. Perhaps we can also attribute the additional reward to the fact that the initiator is responsible for all the good that his followers subsequently perform, and so he shares in the reward too. This can be compared to an inventor, who receives royalties for his invention, even though he does not use it himself.
In keeping with the concept of 'the balance between good and bad', if what we just said is true of good things, it is equally true of bad ones. Someone who perpetrates evil is bound to be punished for his actions, but the punishment of the one who initiated it, who created the groundwork for others to perpetrate it, will far outweigh that of those who follow. After all, not only has he gone to a lot of trouble initiating something new, but he is also responsible for the sins of those who take their cue from him, so that he too, must share in their punishment.
And this is the lesson inherent in "Reishis Goyim Amalek". Remember, Amalek were the first. The went to a lot of trouble initiating the attack. After all, they did overcome the initial awe that they must have felt in view of all the miracles that Yisrael had so recently experienced. And in addition, they traveled four hundred Parsah overnight to reach them. And what's more, they 'cooled down the boiling bath, paving the way for others to attack Yisrael. In that case, they deserve to be eradicated!
(Adapted from the P'ninei Torah
and the ba'al ha'Turim)
"Adam ki yakriv mikem korban la'Hashem, min ha'beheimoh
takrivu es korbanchem" (1:2).
A Korban, explains the K'sav ve'ha'Kaboloh, has two connotations - of sacrificing an animal on the Mizbei'ach, and of coming closer to G-d.
It seems to me that this dual concept is hinted in the above Pasuk, which can be translated as 'Man, if you want to bring yourself closer to G-d, then bring your animal
to Him as a Korban.
Hot and Cold
The blood of every Korban was sprinkled on the walls Mizbei'ach, and the 'chalavim' (the loose fat) burned on the fire that burned on the Ma'arachah.
A Jew has the Midah of heat and the Midah of cold, says the G'lilei Zahav. He is expected to use the former when he comes to perform a Mitzvah, and the latter, when he is inclined to perform an aveirah.
When the Pasuk in Mishlei writes "Colds and heat are in the hand of one who is stubborn, someone who guards his Soul keeps well away from them", it is referring to the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, who tries to invert the two. He employs the Midah of heat when it comes to sinning, and that of cold, in our performance of Mitzvos. Our job, Shlomoh Hamelech is warning us, is to keep well away from him and to use these Midos the way they were intended.
And that is why the blood and the Chalavim (representing the forces of heat and cold respectively), are brought on the Mizbei'ach, to atone for our having given in to the Yeitzer-ha'Ra after all, and used them his way, instead of the way they were intended.
Perhaps we may add that the location of the blood on the side of the Mizbei'ach and the blood on the Makom ha'Ma'arachah are significant, too. For it teaches us that when it comes to sinning, we must allow the blood to cool down, whereas when it comes to Mitzvos, we must work to heat up the Cheilev.
More or Less
a fire-offering, a sweet smell for Hashem" (1:9).
The Torah writes this phrase by an animal offering, by a bird offering and by a flour offering. And it teaches us that as long as one's intentions are for the sake of Hashem, it doesn't matter whether one does a lot or a little.
The No'am Megadim points out that, included in Chazal's words is the fact that when one does a little less, it should be for the sake of Hashem (e.g. in order to apply more Kavanah) and not out of laziness.
Failing that, he says, rather do a little more, which in itself, is a worthwhile achievement.
Reb Bunim from P'shischa adds that Chazal's words equally incorporate that when performing a little more, it should be for the sake of Hashem, and not for other motives.
Not Too Sour, Not Too Sweet
because you may not burn a fire offering to Hashem from any forms of yeast and any form of honey" (2:11).
This is a clear hint, says the Kotzker Rebbe, that, when it comes to Midos, G-d prefers the middle road (the 'golden medium'). He does like, on principle, like what is too sweet any more than He likes what is too sour.
When the Kohen Gadol sins
"If the Kohen Gadol sins
The Torah omits the phrase here, that it uses by all the other cases of Chatas "ve'Chiper ha'Kohen" (and the 'Koehn shal atone). After all, Rebbi Shlomoh Kluger explains, it is a Kohen who sinned, so how can he atone for himself?
It is not however clear, why another Kohen cannot atone for him. Perhaps it is not befitting for a plain Kohen to atone for a Kohen Gadol (who is his superior).
Either way, it is G-d who atones for the Kohen Gadol, and not a Kohen.
All or Nothing
"ve'Im nefesh achas techeto bi'sh'gogoh
*ba'asosoh* achas mi'kol Mitzvos Hashem" (4:27).
The word "ba'asosoh" has the equivalent numerical value as 'Im kulah, ve'lo be'miktzosoh" 'If one does the whole, but not part of it', says the Ba'al ha'Turim.
This refers to the Chazal, who extrapolate from here that one is only obligated to bring a Korban Chatas for transgressing Shabbos, if on performs the entire melachah on Shabbos, but not if one performs only part of it. For example, if two people carry an object into the street, when one person could have done so on his own, they are exempt from bringing a Chatas (although they will have transgresses a Rabbinical prohibition).
No Second Chance
im *lo* yagid ve'noso avono" (5:1).
One of those who is obligated to bring a Korban Oleh ve'Yored (depending on one financial status) is a witness who under oath, refuses to testify in Court.
Incidentally, the Torah teaches us here a major Halachah in connection with the Dinim of witnesses.
The word *lo*, is written with a 'Vav' as well as with an 'Alef' points out the Ba'al ha'Turim, enabling us to read it two ways "Im lo yagid, lo yagid" - meaning that once he tells he may not tell (again). And this is Chazal's source for the ruling that once witnesses have given their testimony, they cannot go back on it.
Better Sin to G-d
"And if someone sins
he shall bring an unblemished ram
it is an Asham (a guilt offering), he is guilty before Hashem" (5:17/19).
The last phrase appears redundant, as it doesn't seem to be teaching us anything, asks the Dubna Magid.
However, he explains, it can be understood in the context of the following Pesukim, in the following manner. It is well-known that sins between man and man are more serious than those between man and G-d. That explains why, the latter (in the current context) require Teshuvah and a Korban, whereas with regard to the former, these will not suffice, until one has pacified the person against whom one sinned.
And that explains the Pesukim here. The person who committed a Safek Kareis (to which the above Pesukim are referring) just needs to bring an Asham, because he (only) sinned against Hashem. However, the Pasuk continues, if a person
denies that he received a deposit or a loan or steals
from his friend
, he must (first) return the article, before any atonement is possible.
The Great Paradox
Imagine that someone had two pieces of fat in front of him, one, shuman (Kasher fat); the other, cheilev (non-Kasher fat), and he picked up one of them and ate it, and cannot now ascertain which one he ate. This is a classical case of 'Safek Kareis', for which one is obligated to bring an Asham Taluy, a ram worth at least two Sela'im.
Had he been certain that he ate cheilev, he would have had to bring a female lamb or young goat, which had no specified value, and seeing as they were smaller than the Asham Taluy, the chances were that they cost less than tww Sela'im.
Initially, it does seem something of a paradox, that a person who is not sure that he has sinned, brings a Korban that is worth more than what he would have brought had he known for sure that he did.
Chazal therefore explain that whereas on the one hand, it is obvious that a definite sin requires a deeper Teshuvah than a doubtful one, on the other, there is one aspect of a Safek sin that renders it more serious than a definite one. A person who sins is full of remorse, and this remorse is bound to be particularly deep when the sin in question is one that carries with it Kareis, as is the case here.
It is human nature however, to make light of a doubtful sin. After all, a person thinks, there is a fifty per cent chance that the piece of fat that he ate was shuman. Consequently, he does not take the sin too seriously, and the aspect of remorse (one of the major characteristics of Teshuvah) is weak at best.
Bearing in mind we are talking after all, about a Safek Kareis, the Torah therefore requires an Asham Taluy to be a little on the expensive side, to compensate for the deficiency of 'lack of charatah'.
And it is for the same reason, says the Yalkut Yitzchak, that the Torah writes, with regard to an Asham Taluy "It is an Asham, he is certainly guilty to Hashem". The Torah stresses here that even though he may not have sinned, the fact that he carelessly performed an act that may have been a sin is in itself a sin, and requires atonement.
All About the Korbonos
The Olas ho'Of
(based on the Rambam
Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos Chapter 6)
Of the numerous Kasher birds, the only two birds that were eligible to be brought as a Korban are young doves and grown-up pigeons.
An Olas ha'of, like an Olas beheimah, could be brought voluntarily, and it seems, was the Korban often chosen by the poor.
When the Torah prescribes birds as an atonement, such as in the case of a Korban Oleh ve'Yored or by a nazir who became Tamei, then the sinner would take a set of two birds, one of which is brought as a Chatas and the other, as an Olah (the nateable exception being that of a woman who has given birth, who brings only one bird as a Chatas).
But someone bringing a voluntary Olas ha'of could bring one bird if he so wished.
1. How was an Olas ha'of brought? The Kohen ascended the ramp, but turned off on to the Soveiv (the ledge that surrounded the Mizbei'ach three Amos from the top). When he arrived at the south-eastern Keren (block on each corner of the Mizbei'ach), he performed Melikah (pricking with his thumbnail deep) at the back of the neck, until he separated the head from the body. And he then squeezed the blood of both the head and the body (the latter was crucial to the Mitzvah, though the former was not) on to the wall of the Mizbei'ach above the red thread that divided between the upper half and the lower half of the Mizbei'ach.
2. The Kohen then took the head and after pressing the location where the Melikah was performed on the Mizbei'ach, he salted it and threw it on to the Ma'arachah, on to the burning sacrifices on to He then took the body and removed the crop together with its skin, its feathers and the intestines that came out with it. These he would throw on to the place of the ashes (a small area beside the ramp where the ashes from the Mizbei'ach were poured each morning).
3. The Kohen would then split the body by its wings using his hands and not a knife. This time, it was not necessary to divide it into two, though it did not matter if he did. He salted it and threw it on to the Ma'arachah on to the burning sacrifices. If the Kohen failed to remove the crop, the feathers or the intestines, or if he did not salt the body, the Korban is Kasher.
4. How is the Melikah performed? He cuts with his fingernail into the back of the neck and pushes it down into the flesh. The Kohen has the option of killing the bird moving his nail to and fro (like one cuts with a knife), or of pressing it downwards deep into the flesh. Nor did it matter if he pulled out the two pipes (the wind-pipe and the esophagus). He cuts the spinal cord and the skull, without cutting the majority of the flesh (because if he did, it would render the bird dies before having reached the pipes. In any event, he must cut both pipes as he descends.
4. Should he use a knife to perform the Melikah, or pierce the neck at the side, it is no different than strangling the bird or tearing it apart. Anywhere on the back of the neck is eligible for Melikah.
The Chatas ha'of
(based on the Rambam
Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos Chapter 7)
1. A Chatas ha'of, as opposed to a burnt offering, was killed (by means of Melikah) by the south-*western* Keren. In addition, the Kohen cut the two pipes, or even the majority of one of them. In fact, he was not permitted to separate them head from the body, as he did with the burnt offering. In fact, if he did, the Korban becomes Pasul (invalid), and he receives Malkos.
Then he sprinkled the blood on the lower half of the Mizbei'ach, and the blood that remained would drip on to the Yesod (the foundation)
of the Mizbei'ach. This teaches us that the blood was placed on the wall of the Mizbe'ach which would enable the remains of the blood to be able to drip down to the Yesod - i.e. the lower wall.
2. The squeezing of the blood of the sin-offering was crucial to the Mitzvah (seeing as the flesh was eaten by the Kohanim), and the blood was all that the Mizbei'ach would receive from the Korban.
3. How did the Kohen hold the bird during the Melikah?
He would hold its two feet between two of his fingers (the little and the index fingers), its two wings with his other two fingers (the middle and the forefingers), and stretch its neck along the inside width (Rashi) of the latter two fingers and perform Melikah with his thumb (in the space between his forefinger and the thumb. And this is one of the most difficult Avodos to be perfomed in the Beis Hamikdash. Bedi'eved however, no matter how the Kohen held it, it was Kasher.
4. Anywhere on top of the Mizbei'Ach is eligible for Melikah, provided the Kohen squeezes the blood on the lower half of the Mizbel'ach. Bedieved however, it is Kosher even if he squeezed it on the upper half, provided he first sprinkled some of the initial blood on the lower half.
Haman's Secret Plan
(Adapted from the Chochmas Chayim)
The Megilah relates how Mordechai told Hasach (Esther's personal messenger, who some say was Daniel) about the terrible plot to kill all the Jews, and about the sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasuries for the right to destroy them.
Now having passed on the information about the evil decree to destroy the entire Jewish nation, of what significance was the sum of money? In face of a disaster of such magnitude, what point was there in taking this solitary detail (the only one mentioned) and blowing it up to place it on a par with the terrible decree by mentioning them in one breath?
And if that is not puzzling enough, how will we explain Achashverosh's strange reply to Esther's accusation of Haman 'Who is it'
, he asked in response, 'who dared to do such a thing'?
What, did Achashverosh not know that he had permitted Haman to wipe out, kill and destroy all the Jews? Had he already forgotten how, but a week or so before, he had removed his signet ring and handed it to Haman to do just that?
If indeed, the king was merely putting on an act for the sake of Esther, so that she should judge him innocently, the Ba'alei Megilah should not have let it pass, without some sort of comment about his hypocrisy?
And to cap it all, what on earth did Esther mean when, in her plea with the king, she said to him "Because we have been sold, I and my people"? Did we not read earlier in the Megilah, that Achashverosh declined Haman's 'kind' offer of ten thousand silver Kikar, telling him that the people were his, free of charge. In that case, Esther and her people had not been sold, but given away? Indeed, the Gemara in Megilah, compares the deal reached between Achashverosh and Haman to a man who got rid of his excessive mound of earth by giving it free o charge to the man who had a large pit in his field, which needed filling in. So the interests of both parties were well served.
Come to think of it, the very same problem pertains to the sum of money that Mordechai described to Hasach. Which sum of money?
In order to answer all these questions, let us first examine Haman and his motives. Then we will be able to better understand what was going on behind the scenes.
It is evident from the various Medrashim connected with the Megilah, that from the moment Haman was appointed as senior minister, his insatiable appetite for Kavod did not rest. Chazal have taught us that someone who has one thousand, wants two and upon attaining that goal, he immediately wants four. And Haman (always one to go in the ways of Chazal) was no exception. Having reached the pinnacle of success, and above all, of honor and glory, he craved for the next position in line, the throne!
And his plot began with the deposing and killing of Vashti (in the hope that his daughter would become the next queen). It prompted him to ask to wear the royal crown when the opportunity arose, and it even prompted him to go for Queen Esther (not to kill her, but to marry her, it seems, though that plan sort of misfired).
Haman in his wickedness and cunning, thought that, as he gets rid of K'lal Yisrael, what's to lose if he gives Achashveirosh a rotten name in the process. This of course, would make him highly unpopular, and once that happened, one way or another, it would be but a short step to his assassination. He could already envisage himself, the mighty Haman, sitting on the throne.
For you see, when Haman offered Achashveirosh the ten thousand silver Kikar (thirty million Dinrim!), he was hoping with that to portray to the world (over which Achashveirosh ruled) the king's callousness, in that he was willing to sell nations for a fee. And to that end, Haman intended to insert the sum of money alongside the decree to destroy the Jewish people, in the letters that he would send to all the communities across the length and breadth of the land . It wasn't just a secondary detail at all, but one of Haman's major objectives. Because Haman knew that nothing would stir up the people against the king more than this juicy piece of information. After all, if Achashveirosh sold the Jews for a fee today, who's to know whom he would sell down the drain tomorrow?
Yes, those letters contained the seeds of the revolution that Haman was hoping would break out.
But Achashveirosh was no fool (at least, he was not that stupid), to fall into Haman's trap. He realized that accepting Haman's offer would boomerang on himself, causing his own downfall, so he declined. O.K. Maybe he was sufficiently foolish not to read Haman's intentions, but he did see the danger to himself, so he told Haman to put the money in his bank account and to do with people as he saw fit.
But don't for a moment believe that Haman shelved his plan. It would take more, a lot more, than a mere king's refusal to deter a wily man like Haman. So, Haman, in his state of power-drunkenness, and perhaps encouraged by the green light (not to speak of the signet ring) given him by King Achashveirosh, decided to insert the offensive clause in the letters (which all non-Jews in the kingdom - except the King - would read) anyway. And quite certain that the King would never discover the contents of the letters, that is precisely what he did.
One person knew already in advance the exact details of what the letters contained. Mordechai knew, because the Ba'al ha'Chalom (the Angel of Dreams) told him, and that is hinted in the words "And Mordechai knew *all* that was done" (not just 'all that was decreed'). And Mordechai read Haman's intentions at first glance.
Let us now resolve the difficulties one by one.
Sure enough, Mordechai told Hasach "all that had happened to him", referring of course, to the terrible decree to destroy his people. But he also told him about "the sum of money that Haman had agreed to deposit in Achashveirosh's treasury. That is to say, he informed him that Haman had inserted it in the letters, in spite of the fact that the king had refused to accept it. And to prove it, he gave him a copy of the letters.
Why was it so important for Esther to know this, you may ask? Because the more she knew about Haman's motives and methods, the better she would be able to plan his downfall. And sure enough, implicating Haman of plotting to kill Achashveirosh was among her reasons for inviting Haman to the party together with the King.
And now we can understand why Esther told the King that she and her people had been 'sold', not even as slaves, but to be destroyed, for that is what Haman had written in the letters. And, above all, she concluded, "the enemy showed not the least concern for the damage to the King", by inserting the sum of money in the letters?
It is also now clear why an infuriated Achashveirosh now explaimed, "Who is it
who dared to do this?" For he had taken care to decline any offer of money, and mention of the sum of ten thousand Kikar was damaging to his reputation, as well as being false. It was a downright Chutzpah, and caught him totally by surprise.
Little wonder that the King arose from the table burning with anger, for he now knew what he suspected earlier. That Haman was after his throne!
Achashveirosh knew it then. Now we know it too!
"So may Your enemies perish, Hashem!"
The Dinim of a Walled City
(Translated from the Mitzvos of Eretz Yisrael
by ha'Rav Kalman Kahana z.l.)
1. In the days of Mordechai, at the time that the miracle took place, the Jews fought on the thirteenth of Adar and rested on the fourteenth, which they designated as one of festivity and rejoicing. In Shushan the capitol however, where they fought their enemies on the fourteenth too, they rested only on the fifteenth, they celebrated their victory only on the fifteenth.
And it was because the celebrations were divided into two days then, that Mordechai and Esther, who, with the sanction of the Anshei Keneses ha'Gedolah, fixed Purim for future generations, fixed two days of Purim.
Now what they ought to have done was to establish the fifteenth for every town which, like Shushan, was surrounded with a wall in the days of Achashverosh.
However, due to the fact that Eretz Yisrael was lying in ruins, with no walled cities intact, this would have entailed attaching more importance to walled cities in Chutz la'Aretz than to the cities of Eretz Yisrael. Consequently, in honour of Eretz Yisrael, so that also its towns should share in the special status of the walled cities, they instituted that cities that were walled in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun should be included in the category of walled cities.
2. Yerushalayim is known to have been walled in the days of Yehoshua. Therefore, its inhabitants celebrate Purim on the fifteenth.And this incorporates districts that were built outside its walls, as long as the houses that are closest to the wall of Yerushalayim are not more than a Mil (one kilometer from the wall.
3. If the fifteenth of Adar falls on Shabbos, then, due to Chazal's decree that one may come to carry the Megilah in the street, even Yerushalmim read the Megilah on the fourteenth. The Mitzvos of Matanos la'Evyonim (gifts for the poor) and of 'Mishlo'ach Manos, are also performed then.
One does not however, recite 'Al ha'Nisim' then, but on Shabbos (since that is the day that the miracle took place).
On Shabbos too, one takes out an extra Seifer-Torah, in which one reads "va'Yovo Amalek", and reads the Haftarah of "Pakadti" (the same Haftarah that one read for Parshas Zachor, the week before).
And it is on Sunday that one eats the Se'udas Purim. According to others, one also performs the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos on Sunday.
(This phenomenon is known as 'Purim Melalosh' [a triple Purim])
4. There are some towns in Eretz Yisrael that are Safek Mukafos Chomah (whose as walled cities in the time of Yehoshua bin Nun is in doubt). They tend to follow the Minhag of the majority of towns, that are not considered 'Mukafos Chomah' and that read on the fourteenth. It is customary however, for them to read the Megilah again on the fifteenth, but without the B'rachos.
The Anaf Yosef presents the correct text as '*ve*'al ha'nisim', seeing as it refers to 'nodeh lecho u'nesaper tehilosecho (we thank You and tell Your praises)' mentioned earlier, and is simply another clause that follows 've'al nifle'osecho ve'tovosecho she'be'chol eis
'. In other words, besides thanking Hashem for His ongoing miracles day in, day out, we also thank Him for the special miracles that occurred at this time many years ago. In that case, without the 'Vav', it doesn't really make much sense.
Having added the 'Vav' to 'Al ha'Nisim', the Anaf Yosef does just the opposite to the 'Vav' in 've'al', which he claims does not belong there. Citing the Chazal on the Pasuk "and no sword will pass through your land", he explains that wars belong to the realm of curses, rather to that of blessings. Consequently, the gist of these words is 'and for the acts of salvation from the wars, that You did for our fathers
It seems to me however, that it would then have been better to omit the words 've'al ha'milchamos', and to have thanked G-d for His salvation, period. And this would have been preferable, as regards both meaning and grammar.
As for the Eitz Yosef's proof from Chazal, granted we are better off without wars. Nevertheless, when they become necessary, then we are duty bound to express our gratitude to the 'Master of Wars' for the way He manipulates them in our favour, as indeed we find by the battle at the Yam-Suf. And that is what we are doing here. Certainly, in our private Tefilos, it would be a good idea to pray for the abolition of wars.
The Rambam's text reads 'ke'sheim she'asisa la'avoseinu ... ', transforming the sentence into a prayer (that Hashem should perform miracles with us today in the manner that He did then).
Tosfos in Megilah however, disagrees, not because of the prohibition of adding prayers in the first and the last three B'rachos (since that pertains specifically to individual prayers). But because we have a principle that Chazal did not to tend to mix the past and the future in one text. In order words, this B'rachah is addressed to the past, and is therefore unlikely to contain any requests that pertain to the future. The Poskim rule that both opinions are acceptable and that either text is correct (Eitz Yosef).
The Eitz Yosef cites the Levush, who adds a 'Vav' to 'ba'z'man ha'zeh'. In his opinion, we are thanking Hashem here for miracles that He performs nowadays, which are of the same nature as those that He performed in the days of Chanukah and Purim.
Some Poskim, he says, prefer to omit the 'Vav', in which case, we are thanking Hashem for the miracles that He performed in those days, at this time. However, he prefers the first opinion, because it is the done thing to incorporate in our prayers, the specifics together with the more general.
Others however, maintain that 'ba'z'man ha'zeh' (even without the 'Vav') has connotations of the general miracles anyway.
It is unclear, says the Iyun Tefilah, as to whether 'aleihem' refers to 'our fathers' mentioned in 'Al ha'nisim' ('which you performed with our fathers'), or to Mordechai and Esther, referred to a few words earlier ('In the days of Mordechai and Esther'). Although in the latter instance, Haman made no direct attempt to kill Esther, nevertheless, he explains, killing Mordechai, who, besides being her husband, was also her spiritual guide, would have been a deathblow for Esther too. Consequently, killing Mordechai constituted killing Esther, whether Haman realized it or not.
Bikesh le'Hashmid, la'Harog u'le'Abeid
First "le'Hashmid", the Eitz Yosef explains, which refers to killing the children;
then "la'Harog", killing the grown-ups, and finally "u'le'Abeid", to destroy their bodies, without allowing them to be buried.
Perhaps "le'abed" could also mean to blot out their memory (which Haman would have planned measure for measure for the Torah's command "wipe the memory of Amalek"). In any event, that may well have been on Haman's mind when he decreed on "the youths and the old, the children and the women".
Es Kol ha'Yehudim
All on one day, says the Eitz, because the lot fell on the thirteenth of Adar, and he had no guarantee that the good luck of which was assured on that day would extend to the next.
The Achris Shalom explains it quite differently. According to him, Haman knew that Yisrael's strength lay in their unity, which reached its climax at Har Sinai, when they announced 'Na'aseh ve'Nishma', but which sank to its lowest ebb at the time of the Churban. That is why, when negotiating Yisrael's destruction with Achashverosh, he described them as 'scattered and divided among the nations'. By that, he was referring not only to their physical division, but also to their spiritual disunity, which, he knew, would work against them. That is why Haman insisted on killing them all on one day, playing on the unity that was their's, but that they had now lost (in a form of reverse logic).
And that explains why the first thing Esther did when she heard of Haman's evil plot, was to ask Mordechai to gather them all together - to unify them.
It also explains the Mitzvah of Matanos lo'Evyonim' and the unusual Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos, both of which are powerful unifiers. And it also explains why the Megilah writes (9:3, in connection with accepting the laws of Purim) "ve'kibel ha'Yehudim" in the Singular (because they reached the level attained at Har Sinai 'Like one man, with one heart').
The evil Haman made sure that his plan of genocide would be accomplished to the last letter. How did he do that?
By permitting the Persians (no, by ordering them) to take Yisrael's booty. He knew the power of greed, and that if the people's hatred of the Jews was insufficient to force them to go about killing the Jews, then the spoil would do the trick. And just in case, there were those whose appetite would be satiated after one or two hauls, he ordered the taking of the loot only after all the Jews had been killed, as is evident from the current phraseology. This would ensure that the people would not leave one Jew alive. (Alshich).
Interestingly, When the tables were turned, and the Jews were permitted (even ordered) to defend themselves and to kill all their enemies ('le'hashmid la'harog u'le'abed', just as had been decreed upon them), the new letters contained the words 'u''shelolom lo'voz'. This was of course, in order that the 've'nahafoch hu' (the reversal) should be total.
Yet when it came to the crunch, the Pasuk stresses that not one Jew took a cent from the loot (a miracle in itself, seeing as this was contrary to their instructions).
This demonstrates one of the major distinctions between Am Yisrael and the nations of the world. A gentile will only perform 'a good deed' if there is something in it for him. A Jew on the other hand, performs Mitzvos for the sake of the Mitzvah, not for personal gain. Yisrael demonstrated to the world, how unlike their Persian counterparts, they did not kill the Persians for personal gain, but in order to perform the Mitzvah of 'blotting out Amalek and of self-preservation.
Since Haman's lots fell out in the month of Adar, asks the Eitz Yosef, why did he wait for the thirteenth? Why did he not pick Rosh Chodesh or the seventh (Moshe Rabeini's Yohrzeit [the cause of Haman's satisfaction as to the choice of month)?
And he cites the Avudraham, who explains that Haman deliberately waited until the seventh day of mourning, when the mourning period reached its peak.
Va'Hashevoso Lo Gemulo be'Rosho
Haman initial hatred was aimed at Mordechai, and it was only a matter of strategy that he decided to kill all Jews at the same time. So G-d paid him back on both fronts - measure for measure, says the Avudraham. A). Haman was not only hanged, but he was hanged on the very same gallows on which he planned to hang Mordechai, and B). the Jews killed their enemies on one single day, just as Haman had intended their enemies to do to them.
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