If you would like to support the Shabbat Shalom Weekly, please click here:
GOOD MORNING! Purim is coming up next week! Purim is the holiday that reminds us that God runs the world behind the scenes. 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 Turnabout - it has an English translation of the Megillah (literally: scroll) as well as a rendition of the Purim story incorporating the commentary of the Malbim (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242).
Purim is celebrated Monday night, March 13th, through all day Tuesday (except in those places noted below)! It is preceded by the Fast of Esther on Monday, March 13th commemorating the three day Fast of Esther and the Jewish people before she approached King Ahashverosh with her request.
I was perusing Shimon Apisdorf's The One Hour Purim Primer - Everything a family needs to understand, celebrate and enjoy Purim (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). One thing that Rabbi Apisdorf wrote, greatly impacted me: If a family is a "twice a year to synagogue" family, then he "votes for 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 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." (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, 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? 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: 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 Monday night and Tuesday 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.kerenyehoshuavyisroel.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: The Kosher Connection Tel. 800-950-7227 or http://www.thekosherconnection.com.
- 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 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!
For more on Purim, go to: http://www.aish.com/holidays/purim/.
For more on "Purim" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
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.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And you shall make your holy garments for Aharon, your brother, for honor and beauty. And you shall speak to all who are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, that they make Aharon's garments to sanctify him and that he shall serve Me." (Exodus 28:2-3)
The verse begins by saying that the purpose of the priestly garments was for honor and beauty. Why then was Moshe told to only relate to the people who would make the garments that they should have the intention that the garments were for sanctifying the priests and to serve the Almighty?
Rabbi Yehuda Leib Bloch of the famous Telshe Yeshiva explains: The priestly garments had profound spiritual and mystical symbolism. They were to give the priests a special sanctity and relationship to the Almighty. For this reason they had to be made exactly as the Almighty commanded.
It was not necessary for this sanctity and relationship that the clothing needed to be beautiful in the eyes of man. However, human nature demands that something which has great importance should also be externally beautiful. People's feelings towards things are greatly influenced by external appearances.
Moshe told those who were doing the actual sacred work about the sanctity and the relationship to the Almighty so that they would have an elevated spiritual attitude. Had he mentioned that the garments were to be beautiful in the eyes of other people, it would have taken away from their elevated thoughts.
What is our lesson? There may be many reasons that you can give someone for fulfilling a request. Give the reason that will motivate and elevate a person to respond with full heart.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 10:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:54 Hong Kong 6:12 Honolulu 6:21
J'Burg 6:11 London 5:37 Los Angeles 5:38
Melbourne 7:30 Mexico City 6:26 Miami 6:10
New York 5:39 Singapore 7:00 Toronto 5:59
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Synopsis of Jewish Holiday:
They wanted to kill us, we won, let's eat!
In Honor of My Children