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MARCH 25-26, 2005 15 ADAR II 5765

Although it is a misvah to drink on Purim, please remember that it is forbidden to endanger one's own life and the lives of others. Please do not drive if you have been drinking.

Pop Quiz: For how long may the shelamim sacrifice be eaten?


"Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the entire kingdom of Ahashverosh." (Megillat Esther 3:6)

The Talmud (Megillah 12) states that the students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai asked him, "What was the reason that the Jews deserved to be killed by Haman?" In other words, they wanted to know what the sin was that caused this calamity. He answered them, "You tell me what the sin was!" They answered, "Because they went to and enjoyed the banquet of Ahashverosh." Rabbi Shimon then showed them that it was due to an earlier sin of idolatry, when the nation bowed down to a statue of King Nebuchadnessar. Most opinions hold that it was a combination of both sins. I'm sure when you read the conversation between Rabbi Shimon and his students, you noticed it was a bit unusual. Why did Rabbi Shimon ask them what they thought the reason for the evil decree was? After all, they were asking him for the reason, which implies that they didn't know. The answer is that the foundation and the fundamental truth of our religion is that nothing happens by chance. (Rambam: Hilchot Taanit). If there is a terrible decree, it is due to a sin. The students of Rabbi Shimon were not little children, and they had read the story of the Megillah many times. It was inconceivable to Rabbi Shimon that his holy students would for a minute entertain the thought that Haman was simply an evil anti-Semite who just wanted to kill Jews. Every Jew in good standing believed that these things don't just happen, and it was a Heavenly decree. He understood that every year when they read the Megillah, they must have known the reason, but only now they were in doubt if the reason was as they thought.

How do WE think? Do we seek the reasons of Hashem or do we focus on the perpetrator of the evil doing? Let's study an event that occurred about a year ago. A Hollywood movie by Mel Gibson called "Passion ..." (the story of J.C.? was released, which clearly blamed the Jews for crucifying the savior of the Christian people. The Jewish world was horrified and was afraid of a tremendous outbreak of violent anti-Semitism. Was our focus on the evil intentions of the producer or did we stop and think to figure out WHY Hashem scared us like that? What might be the sin that made Hashem do this? (My suggestion last year was that the problem was that we went to the movies, something we should never do. Since we go to the movies, Hashem scared us with a movie.) It turned out that thankfully Hashem protected us. May He always protect us. But even better, may we get closer to Hashem and not need to be frightened by the diabolical plans of our enemies. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

The holiday of Purim gets its name from the pur, the lottery which Haman used to determine the day on which to destroy the Jews. This seems to be a very minor detail in the whole scheme of the Purim story. Why choose this aspect to give us the name of the holiday?

The answer is that Haman comes from Amalek, who believes everything in this world is random happenings. Amalek was willing to buck the Creator Himself as the cause of everything that takes place and Haman followed in his grandfather's footsteps. There is nothing more symbolic of chance than a lottery. This was the method that Haman chose to decide the fate of the Jews. The entire story of Purim shows how all random events are linked up to bring about the great miracle of Purim. Therefore, the name Purim is meant to bring home to us that our destiny is carefully planned with precision and detail. Just as a lottery is really the will of Hashem, so too are our every day happenings, from the greatest events to the smallest detail.

When we read the story of Purim, we should strengthen our faith in Hashem, thereby meriting to have miracles and salvation speedily in our days. Amen. Happy Purim and Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"And the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace-offerings; on the day of his offering it shall be eaten" (Vayikra 7:15)

The korban shelamim - peace-offering - is an offering of lesser sanctity and may be eaten for two days and one night. Why is the korban todah - thanksgiving peace-offering - limited to only one day and the succeeding night?

A thanksgiving peace-offering is brought in recognition for a miracle that was done by Hashem on behalf of the Jews. Miracles happen daily and continuously, as we say in the Amidah, "And for Your miracles which are with us daily." Limiting the time when the korban todah may be eaten teaches that each day one should see and appreciate the new miracles Hashem constantly performs on his behalf. (Vedibarta Bam)


Purim riddle #1. What flies when it's on and floats when it's off?



"Then [the Kohen] shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry forth the ashes out of the camp unto a pure place" (Vayikra 6:4)

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch commented: The taking out of the ashes that remained on the altar from the previous day must be accomplished afresh, as if nothing had yet been accomplished. Every new day calls us to our mission with new devotion and sacrifice. The thought of what has already been accomplished can be the death of that which is still to be accomplished. Woe unto him who with smug self-complacency thinks he can rest on his laurels, on what he has already achieved, and who does not meet the task of every fresh day with full devotion as if it were the first day of his life's work!

"Carry forth the ashes our of the camp." Every trace of yesterday's sacrifice is to be removed from the hearth on the altar, so that the service of the new day can be started on completely fresh ground. Given these considerations, we can understand the law that prescribes the wearing of worn-out garments when one is occupied with the achievements of the previous day. The past is not to be forgotten. But it is to be retired to the background, and is not to invest us with pride before the fresh task to which each new day calls us. (Growth through Torah)


Question: Why are we obligated to dip our bread in salt specifically three times?

Answer: This is based on kabbalah. The name of Hashem has a numerical value of 26. Three times 26 equals 78, which is the numerical value of "melah (salt)." (Sefer Ta'amei Haminhagim Umkorei Hadinim)


Purim riddle #2. After picking some apricots from your tree, you decide to make some delicious apricot jam for your hamentashen. You cut up 10 pounds of apricots, blend them together, and place them on the stove. But suddenly you remember that you were supposed to add a teaspoon of lemon juice for every dozen apricots. Since you can no longer count the number of apricots in your mixture, how will you know how much lemon to add?



"If he offers it for a thanksgiving." (Vayikra 7:12)

The Midrash states that in the era of Mashiah, all sacrifices will become void with the exception of the korban todah, the offering of thanksgiving. Similarly, it is taught that all prayer will be abolished in the future except for those of thanksgiving. We may question the need for thanksgiving in the era of Mashiah. Thanksgiving is expressed in acknowledgment of Hashem's beneficence by one who has been rescued from grave peril. The sacrifice is therefore man's method of expressing his belief that Hashem actively guides every aspect of his life. During the era of Mashiah, man will not lack for anything, for the world will be the essence of perfection. Why would he then have to offer thanksgiving?

Harav Chaim Zaichyk explains that, indeed, the basis for thanksgiving will be different during the era of Mashiah. Gratitude will no longer be expressed for the present, but will be conveyed retroactively for the past. Man's perception of Hashem's conduct will be greatly enhanced. The events of the past, which may have seemed so painful, will be seen as a vehicle for our spiritual development. We will consequently realize that everything Hashem has done has been for our benefit. This recognition will ultimately serve as the source of our gratitude to Him. (Peninim on the Torah)


Purim riddle #3. What is the closest relation that your father's sister's sister-in-law can be to you?



This week's Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 7:21-8:3 & 9:1-2.

The haftarah, like the perashah, discusses the korbanot. The prophet Yirmiyahu criticized the nation for their sinful behavior. They were bringing sacrifices, but they were not sincere in their dedication to Hashem. Yirmiyahu's message was that following Hashem's commandments is more beloved to Hashem than all the sacrifices that we could bring.


Purim riddle #4. Circle exactly 4 numbers in the following line, to get a sum of 12.

6 1 6 1 1 6 1 6


pU deiT llA

"Haman the son of Hammedata the Agagite, the adversary of the Jews" (Esther 3:10)

Haman is described with many adjectives; how did he acquire the title "Sorer Hayehudim - the adversary of the Jews"? When Haman maligned the Jewish people, he told the king, "Yeshno am echad mefuzar umeforad - There is one nation, scattered and separated" (3:8). Commentators explain this to mean that they were in total disharmony. To counteract this, Esther felt that unity was the call of the hour, and therefore she instructed Mordechai, "Lech, kenos et kol haYehudim - Go gather together all the Jews" (4:16).

In Hebrew, the word "sorer" means to bind and tie together (see Beresheet 42:39, Hulin 107b). Haman, through vicious plots against the Jewish people, united and bound them together. (Vedibarta Bam)

Answer to Pop Quiz: Two days and one night.


Answers to Purim riddles:

1. A feather.

2. Count the pits.

3. Your mother.

4. Turn the page upside down so that the series of numbers looks like this:
9 1 9 1 1 9 1 9

Then circle a 9 and three 1's.

A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.

Call to 646-279-8712 or email (Privacy of email limited by the email address)

Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.

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