GOOD MORNING! Purim is coming up next week -- Wednesday night, February 28th, through all day Thursday. Purim is the holiday that reminds us that God runs the world behind the scenes. Coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous! Nowhere in the Megillas Esther is the name of God mentioned, though there is a tradition that every time the words "the King" are used it also refers to the Almighty.

Megillas Esther is a book full of suspense and intrigue with a very satisfying ending -- the Jewish people are saved from destruction! I highly recommend The Queen You Thought You Knew by Rabbi David Fohrman. Esther's hidden story comes alive in ways you would never have thought or expected!

Purim is preceded by the Fast of Esther -- from dawn until after the Megilla is read. This year we fast on Wednesday, February 28th. The fast commemorates the three day Fast of Esther and the Jewish people before she approached King Ahashverosh with her request. Named in her honor, it is also in memory of the Jews' fast before going to battle the anti-Semites in the Purim story.

A great book about Purim is Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf's The One Hour Purim Primer -- Everything a family needs to understand, celebrate and enjoy Purim. Writes Rabbi Apisdorf: If a family is a "twice a year to synagogue" family, then those days should at least be Purim and Simchas Torah (when everyone dances around celebrating the completion and beginning of reading the Torah). Our kids should see and be a part of the joy of being Jewish!

Purim comes from the word "pur" in Persian which means "lots" -- as in, "Haman cast lots for the most 'auspicious' date to kill the Jews." The date fell on the 13th of Adar. The events of that date were turned around from a day of destruction to a day of victory and joy. We celebrate Purim on the 14th of Adar for "they gained relief on the fourteenth, which they made a day of feasting and gladness" (Megillas Esther 9:17).

In very few places -- most notably in Jerusalem -- Purim is celebrated the following day, the 15th day of Adar. The Sages declared that all cities which were walled cities at the time of Joshua should celebrate Purim the following day. This is to commemorate the extra day which King Ahashverosh granted Esther to allow the Jews of Shushan (the capital of Persia, which was a walled city) to deal with their enemies. In Shushan they gained relief on the fifteenth. The holiday celebrated on the 15th of Adar is called Shushan Purim.

There are two ways in which to try to destroy the Jewish people -- physically and spiritually. Our enemies have attempted both. Chanukah is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to culturally assimilate us (the Greeks and Western Culture); Purim is the celebration over those who have tried and failed to physically destroy us (from the Amalekites to the Persians, ad nauseam).

Why do we masquerade with costumes and masks on Purim? As mentioned above, nowhere in the Megillas Esther does God's name appear. If one so desires, he can see the whole Purim story as a chain of coincidences totally devoid of Divine Providence. Just as we hide behind masks, but our essence is still there, so too God has "hidden His face" behind the forces of history, but is still there guiding history.

Why do we make noise every time Haman's name is mentioned in the Megillah? The answer: By blotting out Haman's name we are symbolically obliterating evil.

The holiday is celebrated by hearing the Megillah Wednesday night and Thursday morning. During the day only, we fulfill three mitzvot: 1) Matanot L'evyonim -- giving gifts or money to at least two poor people. (While it is good to give locally, one can fulfill the mitzvah by giving at http://www.KerenYandY.com for the poor Jews of Jerusalem) 2) Mishloach Manot, the "sending of portions," giving at least two ready-to-eat foods to a minimum of one person. One should send via a messenger. 3) Seudah, a festive meal. During the meal we are commanded to drink wine until we don't know the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is Haman." (It is best fulfilled by drinking a little and taking a nap -- one doesn't know the difference between them while sleeping!) One should NOT drink to excess. The mitzvah is about connecting to the Almighty -- and sloppy drunks are lousy at spirituality. Drinking can be dangerous. The mitzvah is only at the meal with wine and should be well-controlled and minimized.

Why are we instructed to drink this amount? In a certain sense, Purim is greater than Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur we fast and it is easy for our soul to have dominance over the body. Purim is the epitome of integrating the physical and the spiritual towards realizing that the Almighty loves us. The only thing that stands between you and the Almighty -- is you. The wine and the spirit of the day help us get beyond the barrier -- to realize that everything comes from the Almighty for our good! We may perceive things that happen to us as "bad" though ultimately they benefit us either physically and/or spiritually.

The mitzvot of Mishloach Manot and giving gifts to the poor were prescribed to generate brotherly love between all Jews. When there is love and unity amongst us, our enemies cannot harm us!

For more on Purim, go to: http://www.aish.com/holidays/purim/ . Enjoy "Lego Purim" -- a short aish.com film unique retelling of the Purim story. Also, "Purim and Spain's Hidden Jews", Rabbi Ken Spiro's "Purim in Persia" from his Crash Course in Jewish History and Rabbi Shraga Simmons' "The ABC's of Purim."

 

Torah Portion of the week

Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20 - 30:10

The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary -- oil for the Menorah and clothes for the Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for constructing the Incense Altar.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states,

"And you shall command the Children of Israel that they bring to you pure pressed olive oil for illumination to keep the lamp constantly burning" (Exodus 27:20).

The Midrash comments on this verse that the Almighty does not really need the light, but you should nonetheless make a light for Him just as He makes light for you. The Midrash gives the analogy of a blind person and a person who could see who were walking together. The person with sight led the blind person the entire way. When they came to their destination the sighted person told the blind person to make a light. "I want you to do this," he said, "so you will not feel a debt of gratitude for all that I have done for you. Now you have done something for me in return."

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that from here we see what total kindness is. There are many ulterior motives a person can have when he does favors for others. The ultimate in doing kindness is to do it without any expectations for something in return. This Midrash should be our guide when we do a favor for another person. Our attitude should be totally to help someone and not expect even gratitude in return.

Many people feel strong resentment towards people who do not show any gratitude for what they have done for them. While a person should feel gratitude, one who does kindnesses for others for the sake of doing kindness will be free of any negative feelings towards someone who does not reciprocate or express gratitude. Moreover, an elevated person will go out of his way to make the person receiving his kindness feel free of any obligations towards him.

 

The Origins of the Universe -- check out these 8 videos by Daniel Friedmann covering:

What happened and when?
How did it happen?
Creation from nothing? ... and more!

 

Candle Lighting Times

February 16
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 4:52
Guatemala 5:51 - Hong Kong 6:06 - Honolulu 6:15
J'Burg 6:26 - London 5:12 - Los Angeles 5:27
Melbourne 7:51 - Mexico City 6:22 - Miami 6:01
New York 5:22 - Singapore 7:02 - Toronto 5:40


Quote of the Week

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
-- Dalai Lama

 

 

In loving Memory of our mother,

Edith Nusbaum
(Frummit Bas Yosef)
whose generosity of spirit and love of family
will never be forgotten

Suzy & Mark Pomper
 
In Loving Memory of



Sandy Miot



Ronnie & Susan Pertnoy

 

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Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Copyright © 2018 Rabbi Kalman Packouz