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MARCH 14-15, 2003 11 ADAR II 5763

Ta'anit Esther (the Fast of Esther) will be observed on Monday, March 17. Purim will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 18.

Pop Quiz: : In what way is the Torah reading on Purim different from all other readings of the year?


"He called to Moshe." (Vayikra 1:1)

The first word of this week's perashah, Vayikra, is written with a small alef at the end. The Rabbis tell us that this was a compromise between Hashem and Moshe. When Hashem called out to Moshe, which signifies a very special honor, Moshe, who was extremely humble, didn't want to write it that way. He asked Hashem whether he could skip the alef and write "vayikar", which means "He chanced" upon Moshe. Hashem said, "No, but you may write it with a small letter."

With this, we can understand a very amazing Midrash. We know that Moshe had rays of light shining from his face. The Midrash says that this came about when Moshe took the leftover ink from his quill and put it on his face. It gave him a special light. What ink was leftover, and how could ink produce light? In a homiletic approach we can understand it based on the previous thought. Moshe was a self-effacing, extremely humble person. He wanted to make sure that no attention is called to his greatness.

Therefore, he wanted to write "vayikar", and finally wrote "vayikra" with a small alef. When a person makes himself smaller, he eventually becomes greater, because people who are humble are those we appreciate and acknowledge. This was the light on Moshe's face. Those that toot their own horns, however, are usually known as precisely that: people who make a lot of noise.

We know many people who suffer from "I" trouble, always punctuating their sentences with "I" this and "I" that. We also know those who are quiet, self-effacing, looking to stay out of the limelight. We know whom we'd rather be with. That's also who we should try to be. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"A man is obligated to drink wine on Purim" (Talmud Babli)

The holiday of Purim is a great holiday of happiness and celebration. Since it is a misvah to be happy on this day, we should prepare ourselves and understand what this means in order to fulfill this misvah properly. In the Book of Kohelet we find an apparent contradiction. In one place King Solomon says, "So I praised enjoyment" (Kohelet 8:15). However, earlier in the book, King Solomon says, "I said of laughter it is mad! And of joy, what does it accomplish!" (Kohelet 2:2). The Talmud resolves this contradiction and says that one reference is to the celebration of a misvah and one is referring to a celebration not of misvah. The Talmud concludes that the Presence of Hashem only rests on a celebration of a misvah. Therefore King Solomon said ordinary laughter and "fooling around" is a waste of precious time.

Rabbi Abraham Pam z"l explains that the happiness should focus on all of the goodness that Hashem has shown us, His people, and His great kindness in saving us from the hands of Haman, the great enemy of the Jewish people. Celebrate about the greatness of Mordechai and Esther. Also, all those who study Torah have a great cause to celebrate because on this holiday the Jewish people recommitted themselves to the study and observance of the Torah that they received on Mount Sinai.?The Torah that we enjoy studying so much on a daily basis is due to the commitment made on this holiday, so there are a lot of misvah reasons to celebrate on this great day.

How can one tell if his celebration was one of misvah as opposed to plain merriment? The Talmud (Mo'ed Katan 9) says that the answer lies on the next day. If it was plain fooling around, a person will not feel any vestige of the happiness of the day before. He might even feel sad. However, a celebration of misvah leaves a wonderful feeling of happiness the next day, for all of the kindness Hashem has done for us. May we all have a great celebration of misvah.

Purim Same'ah and Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah


"When any man of you offers an offering to Hashem from the animals - from the cattle or from the flock" (Vayikra 1:2)

Sefer Shemot ends with the construction of the Mishkan, the model on which the sanctuary of every Jewish home is built. Rabbi Moshe Swift draws a parallel between the Mishkan, in which the Shechinah dwelled in the desert, and the Mishkan of every Jewish home.

At the end of Parashat Pekudei, the Torah describes the Mishkan as "Mishkan Ha'edut," the Mishkan which bears testimony. This may be understood homiletically as the place which bears testimony to Hashem who dwells within it. In order that a Jewish home be viewed as a Torah home, it must likewise bear testimony to Hashem, A Jewish home is more than the residence of a father, mother and their children; rather, it is a dwelling in which the Divine spirit permeates its very walls. Such a home is not built simply with mortar and stone. The necessary ingredients/materials required to create this Mikdash Me'at, mini sanctuary, are found in the opening words of our perashah, which speak of Divine offerings and sacrifices.

A Jewish home becomes a Mishkan when there is sacrifice in the home. The sacrifice may be "mikem," from one's self, demonstrated by self-restraint, or by the investment of time or emotional energy. Alternatively, it may be "min habehemah," from one's possessions or one's earnings. A Jewish community cannot survive on talk alone. Those who can actively participate should do so, and those who can offer financial support should contribute in that manner. Those who can do both must give of themselves, as well as their possessions.

Another form of "sacrifice" is also desirable. We refer to a parent's encouragement and support of his/her children's Torah study. There are parents who, for personal reasons, relegate Torah study to a distant second place behind every other pursuit. Such parents enthusiastically support their children's endeavors, be they secular, athletic or social. When demands are made for reinforcement of a Torah endeavor, however, suddenly they are preoccupied. We must remember that continued and lasting success in any activity is consistent with the amount of sacrifice exerted to support it. This surely holds true in Torah endeavors, whose very foundation is secured in sacrifice. (Peninim on the Torah)


Question: Why is Bameh Madlikin not read on other holidays (besides Hanukah, which we answered last week)?

Answer: 1) There is no need to lengthen the prayers on those days, since people would be coming early to prayers due to the holiday.

2) In Bameh Madlikin, we mention the husband's question: "Issartem?" ("Did you remove your ma'aser?") Since removing ma'aser is prohibited on Yom Tob, we do not read Bameh Madlikin on such a day. (Excerpted from Siddur Abir Yaacob, published by Sephardic Press)


We are all familiar with the story of Purim. Haman rises to power and demands that everyone bow to him. The only person to defy Haman is Mordechai. This angers Haman so much that he devises a plan to wipe out Mordechai's entire nation. Esther and Mordechai tell all the Jews to fast three days after which Esther will go to Ahashverosh to plead their case. The Jews fast, Esther pleads and the Jews are saved.

What incited Haman to try to wipe out the Jews? It would appear that it was Mordechai's refusal to bow to him. Yet, when the Jews found out about the evil plot, did they point their finger at Mordechai and blame him for their plight? No. In fact, when Mordechai told them that their predicament was brought on by their participation in Ahashverosh's feast many years earlier, they accepted the blame. They has faith in their Rabbis, and followed their directions, even when there seemed to be ample reason to oppose them. It was this faith that made their salvation possible.

Question: How much trust and faith do you put in our Rabbis? Do you follow their words unconditionally, even when it seems that they may not be right?


This week's Haftarah: Shemuel I 15:1-34.

Since this week is Shabbat Zachor, and we read a special maftir discussing the command to wipe out Amalek, we read a haftarah on the same topic. The haftarah tells of the war that King Shaul waged against Amalek. He was victorious, but he had mercy on their king, Agag, and brought him back as a prisoner instead of killing him. The next morning, the prophet Shemuel rebuked Shaul for not fulfilling Hashem's command to completely wipe out Amalek. Shemuel then killed Agag, king of Amalek.

The Gemara teaches that on the previous night, Agag's wife had conceived and later gave birth to a child. Since Agag was alive that night only because Shaul neglected to kill him on the battlefield, Shaul was held accountable for enabling Amalek to continue. Therefore, it was up to Mordechai, a descendant of Shaul, to correct Shaul's mistake and battle Haman, the descendant of Agag. This maftir and haftarah are always read on the Shabbat before Purim in order to link the story of Amalek to the story of Haman.


1) Men and women are obligated to hear the Megillah reading, both in the evening and in the daytime.

2) If one did not read or hear every single word of the Megillah, he has not fulfilled his obligation. If one misses a word during the reading, he may read the word from the book he is using.

3) One may not eat until he hears the Megillah reading. This applies both at night and in the morning.

4) One is required to give Mahasit Hashekel for all members of his family. The latest time to fulfill this misvah is immediately before the evening Megillah reading.

5) "Al Hanisim" is added to the Amidah and Bircat Hamazon on Purim. If one forgets to recite it, he does not repeat the prayer.

6) On the day of Purim, both men and women are obligated to give charity gifts (matanot la'ebyonim)to at least two poor people. Be as generous as possible. For minimum requirements, consult the Rabbi.

7) Both men and women are obligated to send to a friend a portion of at least two different types of prepared (mishloah manot). This misvah must be done on the day of Purim.

8) It is a misvah to make an elaborate feast in honor of Purim during the day of Purim.


1. You are vacationing on an island in the middle of a lake. The lake is in a remote part of Maine and there has never been a bridge connecting the island to the land. Every day a tractor and wagon gives hay rides around the island to all the children. Puzzled as to how the tractor had gotten onto the island, you ask around and find out that the tractor was not transported to the island by boat or by air. Nor was it built on the island. Explain how the tractor may have gotten there?

2. What can you sit on, sleep on and brush your teeth with?

3. There is three errors in thise riddle. What are they?

4. There are 6 oranges in a bag, and 6 kids in the class. The teacher wants to give each kid one orange, but still have one in the bag. What does she do?


1. It was driven over in winter when the lake was frozen over.

2. A chair, a bed and a toothbrush.

3. a) There is... (Should be "There are")

b) thise riddle. (Should be "this riddle")

c) There are really only two errors.

4. She should give 5 of the kids an orange each, and the 6th kid will get the orange in the bag!

Answer to pop quiz: The Torah portion is only 9 pesukim (verses). No other time in the year is the portion shorter than 10 pesukim. In this case, we repeat the last pasuk in order to fulfill the requirement of reading at least 10 pesukim.

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