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Weekly Chizuk


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. [They were no longer afraid.]"

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.

* * *

Parshas Tzav

Tangible Emuna

A young man who frequently visited the Chazon Ish, zt"l, was surprised one day when the Chazon Ish told him the following:

"Sometimes we see a person, religious and meticulous about every detail, suddenly, out of the blue, throwing off the yoke of Yiddishkeit. Everyone imagines that this was a sudden change. In actual fact, his internal decline certainly began much earlier. Even though it did not express itself in actions right away, deep inside his heart his faith weakened long ago. It was merely his surroundings that had enabled him to keep an external facade. Finally his true state became exposed to others." The Chazon Ish finished his statement and did not explain further.

On the trip home to Yerushalayim, this bochur's mind was in turmoil. He kept asking himself, "What did the Chazon Ish mean? What fault had he seen in me that he had to tell me this?" When he arrived in Yerushalayim, he met a friend and told him over the whole story. The friend also was perplexed by the Chazon Ish's words. He said that the bochur must go back to Bnei Brak for an explanation.

So he did. The next day, he returned to the Chazon Ish and asked him to explain what he had meant. The Chazon Ish, obviously expecting this, had a big smile on his face.

"Come. I'll explain. Emuna is something that requires constant strengthening. If one doesn't reinforce the emuna he was raised and educated with, it slowly dissipates and weakens. Who knows what his end will be? Therefore, a person is obligated to constantly build up his emuna. This is the only way he can properly guarantee his Yiddishkeit. How does one strengthen it? Through accustoming himself to a life of tangible emuna.

"I'll give you an example of living with tangible emuna. The gemara (Brachos 5b) tells us that Rav Huna had 400 barrels of wine turn sour on him. He went to the chachamim and they told him to look into his actions. He answered, 'And am I suspect in your eyes?' They answered, 'And is HaKadosh Baruch Hu suspect in your eyes that He would do injustice?' He answered them that he has no idea in what way he sinned.

Perhaps they knew. They said to him that he had not given his tenant farmer the scraps of twigs that were coming to him in addition to his regular portion. 'What! Do you think he left over anything for me? He's stolen everything for himself!' 'Could be true. But that doesn't give you the right to steal from him.' Rav Huna accepted upon himself to correct the wrongdoing and the vinegar turned back into wine. Some say that it remained vinegar, but the price of vinegar rose to the same price as wine.

"If such a thing would happen to us," continued the Chazon Ish, "we would search for the natural causes for wine to turn to vinegar, not the way Chazal did. They had tangibl emuna. When a mishap befell them, they searched to correct their actions and in their spiritual world, they knew that this was the only way they would succeed to prevent the problem from repeating itself. One who lives tangible emuna is confident in his faith."

How does one get to tangible emuna? "Whatever you need, ask HaKadosh Baruch Hu! If you need a new pair of shoes, go to the corner of the room and say, 'Ribono Shel Olam. Look at these old, worn?out shoes. Please give me the money to buy new shoes.' Do this with everything and in this way you will habituate yourself to recognize and feel how He gives us everything. This is the way to acquire tangible emuna," concluded the Chazon Ish.

A Freilichen Purim!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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