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Haftarah: Yirmiyahu 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23

MARCH 21-22, 2008 15 ADAR II 5768

Purim will be celebrated on Thursday night, March 20 & Friday, March 21.


"It is the elevated offering [that stays] on the flame" (Vayikra 6:2)

Our perashah begins with the laws of the korban offering called the Olah. The Olah is an animal that is slaughtered, the same way we slaughter cattle today in order to eat meat. The meat of this animal, instead of being eaten, is placed on the fire of the altar to be burned. If the Kohen follows all of the instructions of the Torah perfectly, this korban offering brings tremendous benefit to the person who brings it. The flame of the altar is called the "mokdah." However, in the Sefer Torah it is written with a small letter "mem." Why is this?

Rabbi M. Sternbuch explains that the fire of the altar represents the excitement and enthusiasm a person feels when he performs a misvah. But it is written with a small first letter to teach us a lesson about this feeling. It is not good to be overcome with excitement at first and one should contain his excitement and, instead of outwardly displaying his excitement, he should prepare himself by thinking about and internalizing how important and how wonderful it is to serve Hashem in this manner. With this preparation, his great happiness is much deeper and will not die down.

A famous story is told about Rabbi Chaim from Volozhin, the student of the Gaon of Vilna. One day he came to the Gaon for an approval and a blessing of a great and new idea. He wanted to open a Yeshivah, a forerunner of the Yeshivot we have today. However, the Gaon did not encourage him. At a much later date he reapproached the Gaon with his idea and at that time he approved and gave him a blessing. The Gaon explained that at the first time, R' Chaim was very excited, almost too excited. The Gaon feared that his excitement didn't allow him to think out the idea with all of its ramifications. But, now that time has passed and he still desires to do it, even after the initial excitement, it was different. Now there was sufficient calm analysis and the idea now deserves his blessings.

May we always internalize our love of misvot, which will insure our everlasting devotion. 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

Answer to Pop Quiz: Male Kohanim.


1. There is a cage at the Shushan city zoo that contains both peacocks and goats. If there is a total of 30 eyes and 44 feet, how many of each are in the cage?

2. Ahashverosh's royal horse is tied to a five-meter rope in front of the palace. Six meters behind the horse is a bale of hay. Without breaking his rope, the horse is able to eat the hay whenever he chooses. How is this possible?

3. Bigtan and Littletan met at an inn to discuss the overthrow of King Ahashverosh. They each ordered a vodka on the rocks. Bigtan downed his and ordered another. He then drank his second in a gulp, and decided to wait before he ordered a third. Meanwhile, Littletan, who was sipping his drink, suddenly fell forward, dead. Both men had been set up for an assassination. Why did Littletan die and Bigtan live?

4. Esther has 6 piles of sand and Mordechai has 4 and 2/3 piles of sand. If they put them all together, how many piles of sand do they have?


"Days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions to one another and gifts to the poor." (Esther 9:22)

The Rambam writes that it is better to increase in gifts to the poor than in sending portions to one another. If so, why is sending portions to one another mentioned before gifts to the poor in the pasuk?

When giving sedakah to the poor, it is very important that one should be extremely careful not to embarrass the recipient. When Mordechai instituted Purim as a day of giving gifts to the poor, he was greatly concerned lest it become known as the poor's day to receive handouts. Therefore, he also instituted exchanging portions among friends so that an observer would be unable to distinguish gifts to the poor from gifts to friends. To conceal the gifts to the poor, the Megillah preceded it with sending portions to one another.

With this we can understand why no blessing is made over the misvah of mishloah manot - sending portions to one another. The Rashba writes that when one gives charity, he does not make a blessing because of the possibility that the person will refuse to accept it. However, when one sends portions on Purim, he fulfills the misvah even if the recipient refuses them. Consequently, if a blessing would be made over mishloah manot and not matanot la'ebyonim, it would be obvious what is a gift to the poor and what is a gift to a friends, thus defeating the entire purpose of instituting mishloah manot. (Vedibarta Bam)


1. There are seven goats and eight peacocks.

2. The other end of the rope is not tied to anything else.

3. Both Bigtan and Littletan were given drinks with poisoned ice cubes.

Bigtan drank his drinks so quickly that the ice didn't have a chance to melt and release the poison.

4. They would have one big pile.

* I had eighteen bottles of whiskey in my cellar and was told by my wife to empty the contents of each and every bottle down the sink, or else...I said I would and proceeded with the unpleasant task.

* I withdrew the cork from the first bottle and poured the contents down the sink, with the exception of one glass, which I drank.

* I then withdrew the cork from the second bottle and did likewise with it, with the exception of one glass, which I drank.

* I then withdrew the cork from the third bottle and poured the whiskey down the sink which I drank.

* I pulled the cork from the fourth bottle down the sink and poured the bottle down the glass, which I drank.

* I pulled the bottle from the cork of the next and drank one sink out of it, and threw the rest down the glass.

* I pulled the sink out of the next glass and poured the cork down the bottle.

* Then I corked the sink with the glass, bottled the drink and drank the pour.

* When I had everything emptied, I steadied the house with one hand, counted the glasses, corks, bottles and sinks with the other, which were twenty-nine, and as the houses came by I counted them again, and finally I had all the houses in one bottle, which I drank.

* I'm not under the affluence of inchohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink.. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.


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.

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)

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