(Torah Portion Tzav) Classified Info Leaks
In the past few weeks the world has witnessed tremendous change, uncertainty and unrest in the Middle East; the earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused a massive death toll and a current fear of radioactive contamination; and in Itamar, Israel, a couple and three of their young children were horrifically murdered by ruthless Palestinian terrorists on Friday night. One major story is overshadowed by the next. These are uneasy times to say the least.
Some 2500 years ago, the entire Jewish nation also felt very uneasy and fearful. Haman, King Achashvairosh’s advisor, lobbied the king to agree to allow him to eliminate the Jews. Haman was successful and the decree was passed. The Talmud, based on verses in the Megilla of Esther, clues us in on the closed door meeting between King Achashvairosh and Haman concerning this matter.
“Let us kill the Jews.” To which Achashvairosh replied, “I am afraid of their G-d. He may do to me as He did to my predecessors.” Haman assured him, “They have been. ” Achashvairosh countered, “There are the Rabbis among them who keep the commands.” Haman confidently replied, “They are ‘one nation’ and are all responsible for one another, therefore they all deserve punishment.” Haman continued, “Since the Jews are scattered throughout your vast kingdom, their elimination won’t be noticed, and you have nothing to worry about.”
At this point Haman presented a few of the Jews’ differences, trying to convince the king that the Jews are separatists and don’t contribute anything to his kingdom.
“Their laws are different than ours. They don’t eat our food, they don’t marry us, they waste away the whole year, avoiding the king’s work. They give excuses such as: ‘Today is Shabbat, Passover etc.'”
Fearing that the king is still not convinced by his awful slander of the Jews, Haman offered the king an astronomical amount of 10, 000 silver talents for the right to kill the Jews. The king said to Haman, “You can keep the silver, and you may do to the Jewish nation as you see fit.”
The king, seeing someone so ready and willing to take responsibility for killing the Jews, removed his signet ring giving Haman full reign to do as he wished to the Jews.
Our Sages tell us that the removal of Achashvairosh’s signet ring, with which Haman sealed his evil decree of genocide of the Jews, had a greater impact on returning the Jews to the path of righteousness than all the warnings of the many prophets and prophetesses.
Haman’s acquisition of the signet ring shook the Jews to the core and they returned to the path of righteousness, as the Megilla attests, “In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree extended, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and wailing. The multitude lay on sackcloth and ashes.” (Esther 4:3)
G-d accepted their devotion and brought the turnaround of events of the Purim story. Haman was hanged and through Esther and Mordechai’s efforts, the king issued an edict giving the Jews the right to defend themselves on the date of Haman’s decree of genocide.
And so it was, on the 13th of the Hebrew Month of Adar the Jews defended themselves from their enemies and G-d with His infinite kindness and compassion for the Jews guided them to victory. The Purim miracle occurred after the destruction of the First Temple while the Jews were exiled from Israel. This salvation proved to the Jews that G-d had a watchful eye over them although they were exiled. Because of this salvation our Sages instituted the joyous Holiday of Purim into our observances and calendar. The message of Purim still lives on!
On Purim we send parcels of food to one another and give charity to the needy. These Mitzvos engender peace and harmony amongst us.
An example of the wonderful care that we have for each other: At the Fogel home in Itamar, where the family is sitting Shiva, Mr. Rami Levi (who owns a large supermarket chain in Israel) comes by each day and personally fills the cupboards and refrigerator with food for the family and guests. When one of the relatives expressed their appreciation Mr. Levy told them, “You will get used to my face. I have made a personal commitment that each week I will deliver food and stock your home until the youngest orphan turns 18 years old.”
“Mi K’Amcha Yisroel, who is like Your nation Israel!”
Wishing you a most restful, uplifting, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid and Malky Saks