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GOOD MORNING! Purim is coming up this week! It is celebrated Thursday evening, March 20th and Friday, March 21st everywhere in the world - except in cities that were walled cities in the time of Joshua. In those cities, like Jerusalem, Purim is observed this year for 3 days - from Thursday though Sunday!
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 the book 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 http://www.judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242).
Purim is preceded by the Fast of Esther on Thursday, March 20th, commemorating the three day Fast of Esther and the Jewish people before she approached King Ahashverosh with her request.
A great book elucidating Purim is Rabbi 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 http://www.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 with the Torah scrolls celebrating the completion and beginning of reading the Torah). Our kids should see and be a part of the joy of being Jewish!
The holiday is celebrated by hearing the Megillah Thursday night and Friday 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 mitzvot by giving at http://www.KerenYandY.com for the poor Jews of Jerusalem). (2) Mishlo'ach 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 - the mitzvah is fulfilled only through drinking 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...) One should NOT drink to excess, should NOT drink and drive, should not give minors to drink!
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 Mishlo'ach 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!
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, 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.
This year, because Shushan Purim occurs on Shabbat, there is a special Purim HaMeshulash -- the mitzvot are divided up over 3 days. The reason: the Sages decreed that a megillah [a scroll -- i.e. Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs), Megillas Ruth, Koheles (Ecclesiastes)] should not be read on Shabbat. Therefore, the Megillas Esther is read Thursday night and Friday morning. Giving Matanos L'evyonim (gifts to the poor) is also on Friday. The additional prayer "Al HaNissim" (commemorating the miracles) is added on Shabbat and the last 2 paragraphs of 'Beshalach' is read ['And Amalek came'] from a second Sefer Torah. Mishlo'ach Manos (sending gifts of food) and the Seuda (Festive Meal) are on Sunday.
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 is from Amalek, the nation embodying evil and which the Torah commands us to obliterate. By blotting out Haman's name we are symbolically wiping out the Amalekites and evil.
For more on Purim, go to: http://www.aish.com/purim - for basics, how to, family, recipes, themes.
For more on "Purim" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
This week's Torah portion includes the laws of: the Burnt Offering, Meal Offering, High Priest's Offering, Sin Offerings, Guilt Offerings and Peace Offerings. It concludes with the portions of the Peace Offerings which are allotted to the Priests and the installation ceremony of the Priest for serving in the Sanctuary.
* * *
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"This is the offering of Aharon and of his sons, which they shall offer to God on the day when he is anointed..." (Leviticus 6:13)
Why does the Torah specify the words "on the day when he is anointed" rather than "on the day of anointment"?
The Talmud (Yerushalmi Yoma 1:1) comments on this verse that we learn that only one High Priest is anointed at a time, not two. (An additional High Priest was anointed to lead the army into battle.) The Talmud cites Rabbi Yochanan who explains that this is to prevent animosity.
The essence of the High Priest is the attribute of peace. Aharon, the first High Priest, was renowned as a lover and pursuer of peace. The High Priest must unite the entire nation. If there would be animosity in this high position, it would be a distortion and mockery of the concept of the High Priest. Therefore, nothing may be done to create such animosity. And likewise we, too, should strive to prevent animosity!
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 14
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:54 - Hong Kong 6:16 - Honolulu 6:24
J'Burg 6:00 - London 5:57 - Los Angeles 6:48
Melbourne 7:13 - Mexico City 6:29 - Miami 7:16
New York 6:52 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 7:14
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
He who laughs, lasts.
-- Mary Pettibone Poole
|With Deep Appreciation to|
Dr. David & Joan Kornbluth