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GOOD MORNING! Purim is coming up next week, Thursday night, March 24th, through all day Friday! The Fast of Esther is Thursday, March 24th. I was perusing Shimon Apisdorf's The One Hour Purim Primer -Everything a family needs to understand, celebrate and enjoy Purim
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 out 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" (Megilat 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, by the way, was a walled city] to deal with their enemies. In Shushan they gained relief on the fifteenth. The holiday is called Shushan Purim in those locales.)
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 (the Persians, ad nauseam).
Why do we masquerade with costumes and masks on Purim? Nowhere in the Megilat Esther is God's name mentioned. 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: Haman was an Amalekite, from that people which embodies evil and which the Torah commands us to obliterate. By blotting out Haman's name we are symbolically wiping out the Amalekites and evil.
The holiday is celebrated by hearing the Megillah Thursday night and Friday morning. During the day only, we fulfill three mitzvot:
- Matanot L'evyonim - giving gifts or money to at least two poor people. (While it is good to give locally, one can fulfill the mitzvot by giving at http://www.KerenYandY.com for the poor Jews of Jerusalem).
- 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. (You can order Kosher Purim baskets from: White's Candies Tel. (305) 865-0433 or http://florists.ftd.com/surf).
- Seudah - a festive meal. The festive meal should be eaten Friday morning (rather than later in the day) in order that one will go into Shabbat with an appetite and be able to have pleasure from the Shabbat evening 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 can also be fulfilled by drinking a little and taking a nap - one doesn't know the difference between them while sleeping...)
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 and that it is ultimately for our good!
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!
Torah Portion of the Week
The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.
Ramban, a noted Spanish rabbi, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva - correcting his erring ways.
This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), first grain, peace, sin (private and communal), guilt korbanot (varied upon one's ability to pay), korban for inadvertently expropriating something sacred to God, and also to help atone for dishonesty.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
When a person brings a female kid goat for a sin offering, the Torah states:
"And the priest shall make atonement for him and he shall be forgiven." (Leviticus 4:31)
The Talmud (Sota 32b) states that when a person brings the goat he causes himself embarrassment. Everyone who sees the offering immediately realizes that he is bringing it for his sins. This is unlike the lamb offering (verse 32) which is offered either for a sin offering OR a non-sin offering.
Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (who was often referred to by the acronym the "Netziv") noted that the Torah writes regarding the goat offering: "he shall be forgiven" - but does not add the words "for his sin" as it does in reference to the lamb offering (verse 35). The reason for this, writes the Netziv, is that when a person brings the goat he accepts upon himself embarrassment for his transgression even though he could have brought a lamb for an atonement to avoid the embarrassment. People would not realize that he has transgressed if he brings a lamb. Therefore, the Torah states, "he shall be forgiven," without limiting it to "his sin" to tell us that he shall be forgiven for ALL his wrongs because of the embarrassment he has experienced.
When a person feels embarrassed about his transgressions, he can feel positive about these painful feelings. It shows that he has a strong sense of values and that he really wants to refrain from doing wrong. Guilt feelings are problematic if a person feels that it is inappropriate for him to feel guilty. When, however, a person sees the positive aspects of his embarrassment he still suffers, but it is a fruitful suffering and one with which he can cope. This embarrassment will motivate a person to keep away from wrongdoing in the future. A person will feel positive when he experiences this embarrassment because it leads to improvement and elevation.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 18:
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:53 Hong Kong 6:15 Honolulu 6:22
J'Burg 6:03 London 5:51 Los Angeles 5:44
Melbourne 6:13 Mexico City 6:32 Miami 6:12
Moscow 6:22 New York 5:48 Singapore 6:59
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Three grand essentials to
happiness in this life are
something to do, something to love,
and something to hope for.
In Loving Memory of
In Loving Memory of