Purim 5778

RABBI YONAH DICK

Rav Yitzchok Hutner was wont to say, “דער תורה פון פורים העט א’טעם פון פורים”, “the Torah of Purim has a taste of Purim.” The following thought is presented with this in mind.
The reading of the Megilla is to be done on the 14th and 15th of Adar, in open and walled cities respectively. The opening Mishna in Megilla records a leniency given to the בני כפרים, people living in surrounding hamlets. The בני כפרים are allowed to be “Makdim” the reading, to read the Megilla earlier. Earlier means the 11th, 12th, and 13th.
The Gemara (Megilla 2a) derives this leniency from various inclusions in the Pesukim. The Gemara then asks, “Maybe the days included should be after Purim, those being the 16th and 17th?” The Gemara answers, “ולא יעבור כתיב”, “the days of Purim are not postponed.”
Why couldn’t the days of Purim be postponed? What is the message of this law that requires the Megilla reading, signifying the days of Purim, to be valid only earlier but not later?
The Maharal quotes a Midrash Yalkut Shimoni. Esther invited Achashveirosh and Haman to a banquet in order to expose Haman. At the meal she requested that they attend a second meal the following day. Why did Esther not expose Haman at the first banquet? Why wait for the morrow? The Midrash explains,”שכל זרעו של עמלק רגיל ליפול למחר”, “for all the offspring of Amalek are accustomed to fall on a morrow.”
Therefore, Esther requested a מחר, a morrow, to expose Haman and cause his downfall. Haman, the offspring of Amalek, falls on a .מחר
The Midrash supports this observation with a Pasuk. In the original struggle with Amalek, Moshe Rabbeinu tells Yehoshua,”צא והלחם בעמלק מחר” (שמות יז:ח), “Go and fight with Amalek tomorrow” (Shemos 17:8). Clearly, Amalek’s weakness is within the מחר.
But what is the significance of the concept of מחר that causes Amalek’s ruin?
Another Pasuk states “ראשית גוים עמלק ואחריתו עדי אובד (במדבר כד:כ)”, “First among the nations is Amalek and their end will be destruction” (Bamidbar 24:20). ראשיתrepresents עולם הזה, this world; אחרית represents עולם הבא, the world to come. Amalek only exists in this world, the physical present world. Amalek has no place in the world of spirituality, in the world to come. Consequently, Amalek’s downfall is always the מחר, “tomorrow” representing the future.
Indeed, Eisav, the forebear of Amalek, exclaimed, “הנה אנכי הולך למות ולמה זה לי בכורה” (בראשית כה:לג), “I am destined to die. Why do I need the Bechora?” (Bereishis 25:33). Eisav sees no place for himself beyond death; beyond this world, there is no existence. This became the legacy of Amalek. Their world is this one. For them there is no other.
The downfall of Amalek occurred on the day of Purim. Purim is the day of מחר. It is the day in which all becomes clear and the confusion of this world is unraveled. When Haman’s plans were thwarted and he was hanged, Klal Yisrael looked back on the entire story of the Megilla and were able to understand that there was a Divine presence throughout. Therefore, the Midrash says, “כל המועדים עתידים ליבטל חוץ מפורים”, “all the Festivals will become void (in the Messianic era) except for Purim.” Purim does not become void in the future because Purim is the future.
The original question is now resolved. Purim is the day representing the future. The days of Purim can only be advanced and not postponed. There is no after the future.
L’chaim!


RABBI BENZION MORGENSTERN

ויסר המלך את טבעתו מעל ידו ויתנה להמן וגו’ (אסתר ג:י)

Achashveirosh removed his signet ring and gave it to Haman… (Esther 3:10)

Chazal say that Achashveirosh wished evil upon Bnei Yisrael, just as Haman did. Where in the Megilla do we see this? After all, Achashveirosh is not portrayed throughout the Megilla as a cruel dictator.
Rav Meir Shapiro explains based on a concept found in a Midrash. When Eisav met Yaakov, the Pasuk states that Eisav kissed Yaakov. The Midrash relates that Eisav embraced Yaakov, not to kiss him, but in order to bite him. Miraculously, Yaakov’s neck turned to marble. The purpose of his “kiss” was to inflict a fatal wound by draining his blood.
The two ideas conveyed in this Midrash represent two circumstances we are subjected to in Galus, exile. The first is when the enemy tries to “bite” us. The danger in this is not so great. For when we see the danger, we are able to “harden our necks” and break the enemy’s weapon. The graver situation for us is when the enemy comes to “kiss” us. His wickedness is concealed behind a mask of love and friendship, creating a much greater danger. The enemy tries to “suck out our blood,” which alludes to our spiritual body –(“כי הדם הוא הנפש”). This occurs in every generation.
How is it possible that the same Achashveirosh who invited the Jews to his wonderful party could so quickly give over his signet ring for their destruction? How could a seemingly warmhearted ruler collaborate with Haman, who desired to annihilate the Jews? This was only possible if they both had the same intention. Haman was the open enemy who fought for a decree of eradication. Achashveirosh, the consummate politician, hid his intention. He granted the Jews freedom and equal rights; he invited the Jews to his party. His hidden agenda was to bring Bnei Yisrael to sin. Thus, Achashveirosh with his embrace and Haman with his decree were of one mind.
Esther told Achashveirosh,”כי נמכרנו אני ועמי להשמיד להרג ולאבד”, “For we have been sold, I and my people, to be devastated, slain and destroyed (Esther 7:4), touching on both aspects. שמד represents the intermingling, the kiss. להרג ולאבד is death and destruction, the bite.
Achashveirosh realized that Esther was wary of both dangers. He wanted to know if Esther was aware of his exact stance. He therefore asked,”מי הוא זה ואי זה הוא?”, “Who is this, where is this one…?” (ibid. 7:5). The Shita Mikubetzes (Bava Kamma 106b) explains that זה refers to something present and tangible. הוא denotes something hidden. Achashveirosh was asking if Esther knew who the open enemy was and who the concealed one was.
With this we can understand the Gemara (Megilla 16a). The Gemara states that Esther started pointing toward Achashveirosh, and a Malach, angel, came and slapped her hand away so she would be pointing at Haman. Esther’s intention was to show that Achashveirosh was the hidden enemy. The angel intervened so that she wouldn’t betray herself. Compelled by the angel, Esther cast her accusation upon Haman, rather than revealing her angst toward her earthly sovereign.
How brilliant is Chazal’s Mashal, parable, in light of this! The Gemara (Megilla 14a) compares Achashveirosh and Haman to two people with problems in their fields. One had a mound in his field, and the other had a ditch. The one with the ditch was looking to buy a mound to fill his ditch. And the one with the mound was willing to pay someone to rid him of his pile of dirt. When they met each other, the one with a ditch asked to buy the mound. The other person replied, “I’ll give it to you for free, as long as I can get rid of my mound.” Haman was willing to pay money to destroy Klal Yisrael. Achashveirosh answered, “Keep the money, as long as you get rid of them.”
Achashveirosh is compared to the owner of the mound. He wanted to “raise up” Bnei Yisrael and make them into equal citizens with everyone else, so that they would sin. Haman wished to uproot them in the simplest way, by digging a ditch to their downfall.