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Weekly Chizuk

PURIM

Hashem Alone!

It was the last Shabbos of Rav Yechezkel Levenstein's life (which fell out on Shushan Purim). He asked "What's going to be after everything?" He immediately answered, "What was before everything. And what was then? Only Hashem Yisborach. This is what is going to be after everything. And this is exactly what is now - only Hashem Yisborach alone. And this is Purim!" One comes away from a cursory reading of the Megilla feeling he just read a simple history book. Everything seems like a series of natural events that happened to work out in the Jews' favor. One who looks a bit into it, even a tiny bit, reveals an amazing Divine Supervision!

Over three thousand years ago a world war was declared: "there shall be a war for the Lord against Amalek from generation to generation" (Shemos 17:16). Amalek is the standard bearer of atheism in the world. The battle that Mordechai and Esther waged against Haman was just one foray of this World War. Therefore it is no surprise that Haman's downfall occurred with an unusual revelation of the wonders of Hashgacha. There was a double victory. First of all Amalek's descendants and his corrupt outlook were eradicated. And then, as a result, out of the darkness of Golus Bavel shone a light the shines until our very day proclaiming, "There is nothing besides Him!"

This revelation is the basic element in Purim. It is unfortunate that so many of us equate Purim with a day of unbridled frivolity. A little time spent studying the Midrashim and commentaries on the Megilla will put us on the path to a true celebration of Purim.

Amalek - the epitomy of heresy

The Midrash (Esther Rabba 8:4) focuses on a puzzling possuk: "Then Esther summoned Hasach, [one] of the king's chamberlains, whom he had appointed before her, and she commanded him concerning Mordecai, to know what this was and why this was" (Esther 4:5). Esther asked two questions but failed to explain what she was referring to. She refers to "this" and "this." The Midrash interprets that she was referring to two times in Torah when the term "this" is used. She told Hasach, "Go tell Mordechai, that never have the Jewish People encountered such a calamity as this. Perhaps they have denied (what they declared at the splitting of the Sea), 'This is my G-d and I will adore Him.' Perhaps they have denied the 2 Luchos (tablets of the Ten Commandments) upon which it is written 'From this side and from this side they are written.'"

"And Mordechai told him (Hasach) everything that had happened." The Midrsash continues that Mordechai had replied to Esther, "the grandson of 'it happened' has come upon us." This is a reference to the possuk regarding Amalek "who happened upon you on the way."

Chazal are teaching us the rich meaning and Torah hashgafa hiding within these seemingly nondescript few words. When Chazal refer to Amalek as "it happened." This is not merely a nickname. It is an expression of his essence and his hashkafos. Rashi on the possuk "who happened upon you on the way," presents 3 explanations to the phrase asher korcha : 1) accident 2) a defiling incident 3) cool down: "all the nations were petrified to attack Klal Yisroel, and this fellow came and attacked, and showed the way for everyone else. This is like a boiling hot bath which everyone was afraid to enter. One fellow jumped in. Even though he was burned, he cooled it down for everyone else."

This was the essence of Amalek. He came to wage battle against belief and faith in the Almighty. He opened the way for everyone else to deny Divine hashgacha. And with this he even succeeded in corrupting Klal Yisroel into the defiled mindset of accidents of nature. Everything is purely coincidental.

Now we can understand the conversation between Mordechai and Esther. When Esther saw the unprecedented terrible calamity that had befallen Klal Yisroel she asked, "Perhaps they have denied, 'This is my G-d and I will adore Him.'" Krias Yam Suf was the climax of all the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim and in its footsteps the entire nation "believed in Hashem and His servant Moshe." At Krias Yam Suf a simple maidservant had a Divine Revelation greater than that of the great prophet Yechezkel. They spontaneously burst out in song, "This is my G-d and I will adore Him." Esther was concerned that perhaps the firm faith of Klal Yisroel had been blemished and as a result this terrible calamity had befallen them.

Secondly, she asked that perhaps they had also denied the 2 Luchos (tablets of the Ten Commandments) meaning the Torah. There was no other explanation for such a tragedy.

Mordechai answered her that yes, the calamity had befallen them because of these two suspicions. Because of a blemish in their firm belief in Hashgacha Pratis, the grandson of "it happened," meaning the descendant of the grand-daddy of all atheists had come upon them.

The Megilla was written without even once mentioning Hashem's name. In secular circles it appears merely as an account of a crisis in Jewish history. However, when we read the Megillah on Purim we see a very precise Divine Hashgacha unfolding before our very eyes. This is the lesson of Purim. Even in the darkest moments of total Hester Panim, one can see Hashem's hand.

A Freilichen Purim!

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Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff

Rosh Yeshiva

Yeshiva Gedolah Medrash Chaim

Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood). You can access Rav Parkoff's Chizuk Sheets online:

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