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Thursday, February 25

The Weekly Shtikle - Purim / Tetzaveh

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.

 

This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.

 

As we have discussed on a number of occasions, the juxtaposition of certain parshios to certain events in the calendar is no coincidence and there is often an underlying message to be found. In almost every non-leap year, the Shabbos before Purim, Shabbas Zachor, falls out on parshas Tetzaveh. In anomalous years such as this, it falls out on Terumah, with Purim itself running right up against Tetzaveh (or on it, for Shushan Purim.) There must be a connection between these parshios and Purim.

 

As we know, HaShem's name is completely missing from the text of the megillah. But I find that in addition to that, the megillah also lacks a strong historical context. From the text itself, we know very little about the story's place in history, what preceded it, what followed it, and even some explanation of the events recounted. Who was Achashveirosh? What was his relationship with the Jews? What was his party all about? Perhaps the only inkling of historical context in the megillah is the brief biography of Mordechai, in which we are told that he was part of the final exile at the end of the first Temple. For "the rest of the story," we must turn to our sages.

 

Over the course of the megillah, we go to great lengths to demonize the evil Haman, and rightfully so. We make loud noises at the mere sound of his name and then stick in a good curse for him and his wife in the Shoshanas Yaakov song that follows the reading. But what about Achashveirosh? Where does he fit in? There's no mention of him in the song. And we certainly don't make noise for him. (Would the reading ever end if we did?) But we are told in the gemara that the Jews had already begun rebuilding the beis haMikdash. It was Achashveirosh who put an abrupt halt to the reconstruction. There was a well-known prophecy by both Yirmiyahu and Daniel that the Jews would go through 70 years of exile after which they would return to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild the beis haMikdash. Belshatzar, a previous ruler, had come to the conclusion that 70 years had passed and rejoiced that the prophecy would not come true. His calculation was erroneous and he was dead by the next morning. Achashveirosh made some adjustments to the calculation and determined that now according to his enhanced calculation, which would also prove to be erroneous, the 70 years had passed and there was no more hope for the Jews (Megillah 11b.) This was the cause for celebration. The keilim mikeilim shonim (1:7) were in fact the vessels of the beis haMikdash

 

It is understandable that Esther could not have written anything in the megillah itself that would shed a negative light on her husband, the king. But the midrashim make it quite clear what Achashveirosh was all about. Perhaps the juxtaposition of parshios Terumah and Tetzaveh are meant to help preserve that historical context. We spend two complete parshios detailing the beauty and the splendour of the mishkan and the men who were tasked with doing its work. That special beauty was even enhanced in the edifice constructed by Shelomoh to be the permanent dwelling place of the Holy Presence. After nearly 70 years since its destruction, we were ever so close to getting it back. The beauty and the splendour would return once again. The story of Esther chronicles the hurdles and obstacles we needed to overcome to finally reach that moment.

 

Purim samei'ach and good Shabbos!

Mishenichnas Adar marbim be'simchah

 

Please see my Purim archives for some more insightful (not inciteful) thoughts on Purim.

 

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Dikdukian Posts on Megillas Esther

Dikdukian: Ner Tamid

Dikdukian: Of Plurals and Singulars

Dikdukian: The Lord and the Rings

Dikdukian: Tarshsih veShoham

Dikdukian: Sham and Shamah

 

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites, www.weeklyshtikle.com

The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on BaltimoreJewishLife.com

 

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