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"Are you coming along?"
"To the Shabbos HaGadol Drasha."
"Who is speaking?"
"Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai."
"Wow! Where is he speaking?"
"In the open area next to the Beis HaMikdash."
"I'll be there."
The appointed hour arrives, and a huge crowd gathers next to the Beis HaMikdash. The sun is slowly setting, and the Heichal casts a long shadow over the crowd.
"It sure is a hot day today."
"Yes, but it's much cooler here in the shade."
"One minute. We are getting pleasure from this shade."
"Oy vey! The shade is being cast by the Beis HaMikdash. We are benefiting from kodesh (sacred items). That is ossur!"
"But Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai is speaking. He would not allow something that is ossur to continue."
The question is:
How was Rabban Yochanan able to darshen in the shade of the Heichal?
The answer is:
The Gemora (Pesachim 25b) discusses pleasure that comes to a person against his will. If he cannot avoid it, and he does not intend to take pleasure, it is surely permitted. In our case, there was no other place large enough to hold the crowd that gathered to hear Rabban Yochanan. However, the people did intend to enjoy the shade. What is the heter to derive benefit from the Holy Beis HaMikdash? The Gemora answers that the normal way to derive pleasure from the Beis HaMikdash was to go inside. To benefit from the shade cast from the outside is not the normal derech of enjoyment, and is therefore permitted.
This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.
"Is there a special maftir this week, Abba?"
"Yes, Avi. Parashas Zachor."
"Zachor means remember, doesn't it, Abba?"
"Yes, Avi. We must remember what Amalek did to us."
"What did he do, Abba?"
"Amalek is the personification of evil, Avi. His entire purpose in this world is to turn people away from Hashem. He tries to show them that Hashem does not exist cholila (Heaven forbid) or does not care about us. He first attacked Klal Yisrael when we left Mitzrayim, shortly after Kriyas Yam Suf. The entire world was terrified of Hashem and His chosen people. Amalek jumped in with tremendous chutzpah, attacked us, and showed the world that we were not invincible. By doing this he lowered the world's yiras (fear of) Hashem."
"That is horrible!"
"Yes, Avi. Therefore, we were given a mitzvah in the Torah, at the end of parashas Ki Seitze, to remember this terrible thing that Amalek did. We fulfill that mitzvah by reading that parasha for this week's maftir."
"Why do we read it this week, Abba."
"Because this is the week before Purim, Avi. Haman was a descendant of Amalek. Like his forefathers, he tried to wipe out Klal Yisrael and disgrace Hashem's Holy Name. We remember Amalek at the time when we rejoice over his defeat."
"What about nowadays, Abba? Who is Amalek? Where is he?"
"He is still here with us, Avi. Rav Zeidel Epstein zt"l shares an insight into Parashas Zachor. Amalek, whose entire purpose in this world is to disgrace Hashem, is the personification of evil. We must hate him and the evil that he brings into this world. Chilul Hashem is revolting! We detest it! We run far away from it! We uproot it from our lives! That is how we remember Amalek. We recognize him in all of his forms, and we stamp him out of our lives." "I'm ready Abba . . . Zachor!"
Kinderlach . . .
This is the second of the four parshios which prepare us for Pesach. Last week, parashas shekalim, we worked on dedicating all of our gashmius (material possessions) to Hashem. This week we work on hating the evil of Chilul Hashem and uprooting it from our lives. Do not do anything that would make people look down upon Hashem or His mitzvos. Act nicely towards people, with tremendous kovod (honor) and derech eretz (respect). Value the mitzvos and perform them carefully and properly. Fear Hashem and distance yourself from any aveyra (sin). This is how we wipe out Amalek, kinderlach. Zachor!
"Who is going into the shower first? Hmmm. I see that we have no volunteers. Okay, let's draw lots. Everyone pick a straw. The one with the shortest straw goes in first."
"Abba are these that same kind of lots that Haman drew?"
"Not exactly Shimi, but it's the same idea."
"Abba, I have a question. All of the other holidays are named after an important part of the event. Pesach is named after the Korbon Pesach (Pesach sacrifice). Succos is named after the Sukkah that we live in during the holiday. Why is Purim named after the pur, the lot that Haman used to determine the date of his evil decree? The pur is such a small detail.
"Shimi, Rav Chaim Friedlander zt"l answers your question. Drawing lots is one way to make a decision. Haman and his nation, Amalek, do not believe that Hashem runs the world. They 'cooled off' the fear that the nations had of Hashem and the Jewish people (Devarim 25:18). The word for 'cooled off' karah, also means 'happen'. That is Amalek's view of the world. Things just happen. Drawing lots is letting 'luck' determine the outcome of things. Our view stands diametrically opposed to Amalek's. We know that Hashem guides all events. We also used a lottery when dividing the land of Israel among the tribes in the times of Yehoshua (Bamidbar 33:54). The lottery revealed Hashem's will that each family got the plot of land that was right for them. Shimi, the pur is not an insignificant detail of the holiday. It represents the essence of the difference between Amalek and the Jewish people; the difference between chance and hashgacha (Divine Guidance)."
Kinderlach . . .
We know that Hashem is guiding the events of our lives. We sometimes think things should be different. We had some bad luck. Better luck next time. After a while we realize that what happened was actually the best possible thing. Let us all go around the table and think of some examples. We are doing our part to reveal Hashem's "hidden hand" and increase His Glory in this world.
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