March 18-19, 2011 13 Adar II 5771
Purim will be celebrated on Saturday night, March 19, and Sunday, March 20.
Remember to bring your Megillah to shul before Shabbat.
"One is obligated to become intoxicated to such a degree on Purim that he can no longer differentiate between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai (whom to curse and whom to bless)." (Talmud Megillah 7)
The Arizal noted that Yom Kippur can be read "Yom Ke-Purim" - a day similar to Purim. What connection does Yom Kippur have to Purim? They seem to be complete opposites? Plus, it seems that Purim is of even greater significance, since Yom Kippurim is likened to it.
Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch Shlita (quoted in Torah Lada'at) explains that it requires greater spiritual fortitude to properly observe the holiday of Purim than the holiday of Yom Kippur. It is no remarkable feat to achieve great sanctity when one abstains completely from food and drink and other worldly pleasures, and one is in awe of the Day of Judgment. What is difficult is to reach that level of holiness and fear of Hashem at the time that one is making merry and enjoying all kinds of delicacies and alcoholic beverages. It is for this reason that Yom Kippur is only similar to Purim, for Purim is an even greater test of one's spiritual mettle.
When our Sages command us to become drunk on Purim they do not mean that one is supposed to completely lose control over himself. To the contrary, one must see to it that he is so thoroughly imbued with Torah and fear of Hashem that he will instinctively act in accordance with Torah values. One must be able to imbibe an amount of wine that should render him unable to differentiate between Arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai - yet he should be so saturated with fear of Hashem, that even in such a condition, he can still instinctively choose to bless Mordechai and curse Haman. Happy Purim & Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Command Aharon and his sons" (Vayikra 6:2)
Rashi tells us that the word um-command - is needed to encourage someone if there is a loss of money involved. The Kohanim were being commanded regarding the Olah sacrifice which was fully burned on the Altar, and they had no share in the animal except for the skin. Therefore, in order to make sure that they did this korban with the same zealousness as the other sacrifices, the word tzav is used. We see from here that loss of money doesn't only mean an actual loss but even a lack of gain. The Kohanim didn't personally lose anything by doing this sacrifice. They just didn't profit, and still the Sages call this a loss.
This has major significance for us. We tend to do certain misvot with enjoyment and gusto, especially those we benefit from, either benefiting with physical rewards or deriving honor and recognition for it. But when it comes to doing things that have no glory attached to them, we may feel we are not gaining from these activities and even consider them somewhat of a loss. That's when we need to be encouraged, just like the Kohanim. Whatever we do in the service of Hashem, regardless of the instant payback, ultimately will benefit us in this world and most certainly in the next world. We should feel privileged to be able to help others and to fulfill Hashem's will, and we should try to do it with enthusiasm and enjoyment as if we would be getting rewarded on the spot. The reward will be had sooner than we could imagine when we realize how our lives are immeasurably richer. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"The flesh of his thanks offering must be eaten on the day of its offering." (Vayikra 7:15)
The Korban Todah, Thanksgiving-offering, is a sacrifice to which we can all relate. Regrettably, we all too often forget how much we owe Hashem. The Todah is a Korban Shelamim, peace-offering, but, unlike all of the other Shelamim - which are eaten for two days and one night - the Todah is eaten for only one day. The Netziv, z"l, suggests a practical reason for this halachah. The Korban Todah is accompanied by forty loaves, called the Lachmei Todah. This is a considerable amount of food to consume - especially in so short a time. Therefore, the subject of the korban will have to invite his family and friends to share in his korban, a practice that will engender an opportunity for discussing the miracle which originally precipitated the korban. Thus, Hashem's beneficence will be publicized to a larger crowd. The Imrei Emet observes that the Korban Todah is offered by an individual who has personally experienced a Heavenly miracle. Truth be told, this is a daily occurrence for each one of us. Waking up in the morning and having the ability to function is a miracle - which we take for granted! Since every day is a new miracle, presenting renewed reason for offering our gratitude to Hashem, how can we eat the bread of yesterday's miracle today?
The Gerer Rebbe's exposition should strike home for all of us. We do not have to think hard to conjure up the constant miracles in our own lives. Since we take so much for granted, however, we often fail to acknowledge and, certainly, appreciate all that we owe to Hashem. It takes someone else's experience to awaken within us the realization that if not for the grace of G-d, things could have been much different.
In 2003, a terrible bus accident occurred in Eress Yisrael in which a bus filled with passengers left Beit Shemesh for Bnei Brak only to go over a cliff and slide down into a wadi. There was tragic loss of life. One young man who had distinguished himself as a G-d -fearing man, was saved because he did not take the bus. This is, of course, no great novelty. It is why he did not take the bus that is strikingly significant.
As a student in one of the Kollelim in Beit Shemesh, he was traveling to Bnei Brak to visit his parents. When the bus pulled up to the bus stop, he ascended and reached into his pocket for the thirteen shekalim he had prepared to pay the fare. He was shocked to discover that he only had three shekalim in his pocket. It did not make sense. He himself had no clue how - or to where - it could have disappeared. Ten shekalim is not an outrageous amount of money. Anyone would have lent him the necessary amount, but he had accepted upon himself never to ask for a loan. He would return home and return with the necessary fare. This was not the only bus to Bnei Brak.
As soon as the bus pulled out of the station, he met one of his neighbors who "happened" to be driving to Bnei Brak. He would be happy to offer him a ride. They were driving behind the bus when they saw it miss the turn and take a fatal plunge down into the wadi! Understandably, they were shocked by the sight of this tragedy unfolding right before their eyes. The young man who was short on change was shaken beyond belief. After all, he should have been on that bus.
The young man began to cry - for those who had perished, as well as for himself. He was spared because he did not have his ten shekalim which somehow had disappeared. After he calmed down, he reached into his pocket to take out his handkerchief to wipe the tears off his face. He almost passed out when he discovered within the folds of his handkerchief: ten shekalim.
When was the last time we had kavanah, proper intention, when we recited the words: v'al nisecha she'bchol yom, "and for Your daily miracles"? (Peninim on the Torah)
Certain child-rearing theories are subject to debate among experts and parents alike. How to discipline a child is, of course, a controversial area of dispute. Another is separating a show of affection or bonding from just plain "spoiling." But one principle that gets universal approval is that of building a child's self-esteem. Even when disciplining a youngster for unacceptable behavior, you should, experts say, criticize the behavior and not the child: "What you are doing is bad," rather than "You are bad!"
Conclusions that seem clear when applied to others sometimes get cloudy when applied to yourself. "I'm so stupid. Nobody with a brain could do what I just did," or "I'll never be like my neighbor Avraham. I'm just no good," are examples of negative self-assessment that may lead to disaster. Such assessments are weapons of the Evil Inclination; the Yeser Hara attacks by getting the person to say, "I am no good." People who see themselves as being bad end up giving themselves license to do what is bad.
Our sages teach: "Do not judge yourself to be a wicked person." Therefore, the correct response to the Yeser Hara's negative assessment is to retort: "No one is perfect. Teshubah- repentance- was created for everyone, because everyone makes mistakes."
It is very possible for anyone to fall into a mood of low self-esteem. It takes a minute of reassessment to look at the positives and to remember that you are good- it's just that sometimes you do something that isn't right. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, try to fix what you've damaged, and resolve to do better next time. (One Minute with Yourself - Rabbi Raymond Beyda)
1. Feed me and I live; give me drink and I die. What am I?
2. There are three switches downstairs, each corresponding to one of the light bulbs upstairs. How can you, without any help, figure out which light switch goes to which light bulb by only making one trip upstairs?
3. One day a mute man walks into a store. He wants to buy a toothbrush, so he simply imitates brushing his teeth and he gets his toothbrush. Now a blind man walks into the store and wants to buy a pair of sunglasses. How will he get the purchase done successfully?
4. You are convicted of murder. You have to choose between three rooms. The first room has raging fires. The second room has men with loaded guns. The third room has lions that haven't eaten in two years. What room would you choose?
The next-to-final verse of Megillat Esther is "All his mighty and powerful deeds and the account of Mordechai's greatness are recorded in the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia." Many of the commentators questioned the purpose of this verse. Who is going to read the ancient chronicles of these defunct empires?
Harav Yehezkel Abramsky explained that this verse teaches the reader of the Megillah that if he is searching for historical facts and figures he is holding the wrong text. If someone wants to know about the political and military ups-and-downs of Ahashverosh or of Mordechai, he will have to look elsewhere- in the chronicles of kings of Media and Persia. Megillat Esther was written for the sole purpose of teaching us quite the opposite- that all the designs and intrigue of the kings and politicians are immaterial to what actually is accomplished. The results of man's efforts are controlled totally by G-d's wisdom and providence. He orchestrates everything to fit into His master plan of how the world must operate. Although kings and other leaders think that they are making things happen, they are but pawns and puppets in G-d's Hands and He pulls the strings in the most miraculous fashion to bring the world to its destiny. (Yalkut Yosef)
Our Sages explained the verse (Esther 8:16), "The Jews had light…" that this light refers to Torah. Rashi explained that Haman had issued a decree banning Torah study. The Midrash Shohar Tov explained as well that Haman attempted to bring an end to the study of both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. Once his decree was canceled, the light of Torah was restored to the people of Yisrael.
Rama wrote that it is commendable to spend some time in Torah study before beginning the Purim feast. This is based on the passage quoted above stating that the Jews were enlightened with Torah during the time of Mordechai. In his Darche Moshe, Rama cited Mahari Brin who promised that if one studies Torah prior to the Purim feast, one will be spared any mishap during one's feast.
This concept and halachah are cited in Matte Moshe and Shnei Luhot Haberit. They state that since we must be joyful on Purim, we must engage in Torah study to inspire us to true heartfelt joy, as the verse tells us, "The statutes of G-d are just; they gladden the heart." This is the meaning of the verse, "The Jews had light and joy…" They had the light of Torah, and then they celebrated with merrymaking.
The Yesod Veshoresh Ha'abodah cited these passages as well, and wrote at length about the importance of bringing out one's joy through Torah study, explaining that in this way one will truly come to appreciate G-d's kindness in saving us from the murderous designs of Haman and thwarting his decree that banned Torah study. He furthermore suggested that everyone refrain from returning home in the morning until he has spent some time in Torah study. If he returns home immediately after the reciting of the Megillah it is possible that he will become involved in the family's activities and never have a chance to escape and study Torah afterward.(Yalkut Yosef)
2. You turn on one light bulb. Leave it on for a while. Then, turn that one off and turn another one on. Go upstairs. One light bulb will be cold, one will be warm, and one will be on.
3. He is blind, not mute, so he can ask for the sunglasses.
4. The third. The lions that haven't eaten in two years are dead.
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.
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