Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Purim by Reb Jay


At the time of Kabalas HaTorah, Bnei Yisroel stood at the foot of the mountain. Rav Avdimi Bar Chama Bar Chasa says this teaches that Hashem held the mountain over the Jewish people and said to them: “If you accept the Torah, good. If not, this shall be your burial place”. Rav Acha Bar Yaakov says we see from here that the acceptance of the Torah was coerced. Rava says it was reaccepted (willingly) in the days of Achashverosh, as it is written Kimu V’kiblu (Shabbos 88a).

What is the implication of Kimu V’kiblu? That when Klal Yisroel accepted the mitzvos of Purim upon themselves, this shows that they willingly accepted the Torah, albeit 1300 years later (the Maharal writes that the trepidation of Klal Yisroel in accepting the Torah was regarding the Oral Law; thus by accepting these mitzvos which had been decreed by the Rabanan, they were showing their acceptance of the Oral Law).

However, the Gemara in Shabbos (14b) states that Shlomo HaMelech instituted the mitzvos of eruvin and netilas yadayim. Therefore, Klal Yisroel already accepted upon themselves mitzvos d’rabanan, so why doesn’t the Gemara say that they reaccepted the Torah (willingly) in the days of Shlomo HaMelech? What is unique about Purim?

The Miracle of Purim occurred between the first and second Beis Hamikdash. This was a time of unprecedented change for Klal Yisroel. To go from having a Beis Hamikdash, to having it destroyed was a potentially a devastating loss that could lead to tremendous despair. People could think that the relationship between Hashem and Klal Yisroel had now ended. Klal Yisroel was in a transition period from Ha’aras Panim (seeing Hashem’s “face” kaviyachol) to Hastaras Panim--the hiding of Hashem’s “face” (in fact, soon after the Miracle of Purim, the gift of prophecy was lost--Yoma 9b). It was in this framework that the Miracle of Purim occurred.

Megillas Esther is unique in that the name of Hashem is never mentioned openly. The meforshim explain that this is to teach us that just as Hashem effects salvation for us through open miracles above nature--l’maaleh min hateva (i.e,Pesach), He also effects salvation for us within nature (i.e, Purim). The Miracle of Purim was a gift to enable us to understand this concept.

When Klal Yisroel said Kimu V’kiblu and willingly accepted these mitzvos, it was more than the mitzvos they were accepting. Klal Yisroel was accepting the hashgacha of the Ribono Shel Olam, even B’hastaras panim.

In order to understand this, we must first understand the dilemma posed by the aforementioned Gemara in Shabbos. It says in the Parshas Mishpatim that when Klal Yisroel accepted the Torah, they said na’aseh v’nishma--we will do and we will listen, thus implying they fully accepted the Torah willingly. Yet the Gemara mentioned here says Hashem had to hold the mountain over their heads in order to make them accept it. There are many answers to this apparent contradiction. One answer is that Hashem did not literally hold the mountain over their heads. However, by virtue of what Klal Yisroel experienced at Har Sinai--this unprecedented closeness with Hashem--it is as if He held a mountain over their heads. Klal Yisroel lost their Free will because of their proximity to Hashem (the Ramban learns that Malachim have a degree of free will, but they are unable to manifest it, due to their closeness with Hashem).

It was only during the days of Purim that they reaccepted the Torah willingly. When Klal Yisroel saw that even at a time of hastaras panim--when Hashem seemingly turns His face away from us--there is still hashgacha, that He is still guiding us. It was to this hashgacha, and to the mitzvas hayom of Purim that Klal Yisroel said Kimu V’kiblu--we will fulfill and we accept.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי רבה
What is the reason for this strange Halacha? The concept seems totally foreign to Jewish thought; in fact it's almost sacrilege that is until you have the deeper understanding. We must go back to the very Beginning we are back with Adam and Chavah by the Eitz Hadas the snake convinces Chavah to eat from the Eitz Hadas so she could become Godly defined as" knowing good and evil". What was this Eitz Hadas According to some it was a grape vine and what Chavah ate was actually grapes now she knew she was in trouble and she was going to die and she did not want to die alone so she had to get her husband to eat from the tree too, but he knew the Eitz Hadas was grapes so what did she do she made into wine and gave it to him to drink. The world is destroyed after the Mabul we get a new start. Noach Gets out of the Ark what does he do? The Medrash Tanchumah brings down he plants a vineyard in a joint deal with the Satan who after planting proceeds to Shect a sheep, a monkey, and a pig and uses their blood to water the seeds. For simple reason of course when you first start off you are meek as a sheep, after a drink or two you become brave as a lion, and after another you behave as a monkey, and at long last you are a pig rolling in mud and your own excrement. We look further in Bereishis we have Lot and his daughters thinking they are the soul survivors in the world get their father drunk and procreate the Jewish antagonists of future generations Amon and Moav. It seems the theme of the torah with drunkenness is it is overall a negative thing so again why this mitzvah? The answers lies back in Gan Eden. What was eating from the Eitz Hadas going to give? Give divine knowledge which is defined as knowing good and evil so here we are Purim fixing this very trait we will drink to the extent where can no longer differentiate between Haman And Mordechai which is the quintessential lack of recognition of the difference between good and evil, fixing Chavahs' Original mistake, and now we have come full circle and have a deeper understanding of this very strange mitzvah.
A Freilichen Purim!!!!!!!!