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Friday, March 2

The Weekly Shtikle - Purim

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my dear Zadie atnd Bubbie, HaRav Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak and Yehudis bas Reuven Pinchas.

    This Motzaei Shabbos, there will be a toal lunar eclipse visible to most of the world at some point in the night, depending on your location: An early start on "ad delo yada" might enable you to view three lunar eclipses! The gemara (Sukkah 29a) tells us that when there is an eclipse of the sun, it is a bad sign for the gentiles. When there is an eclipse of the moon, it is a bad omen for B'nei Yisroel because we follow the lunar calendar and they follow the solar calendar. (See for a more in-depth discussion of the halchic and hashakfic implications of the eclipse.)

    We cannot possibly know what the eclipse is a sign of. However, let us contemplate the very concept of a sign. We have discussed ( that while blessings may be bestowed upon us by HaShem in an instantaneous manner, the curses chase us and follow a more draw out timetable before, God forbid, catching up to us and overtaking us. This is the Divine design allowing for teshuvah to reverse the decree and cancel the curse. This is the purpose of the sign of bad things to come. Punishment is not meted out spontaneously. We are always given a chance to wake up and smell the roses.

    This theme is perfectly applicable to the story of Purim. The gemara (Megilla 12a) points out that the generation of the Purim story was in fact deserved of complete destruction as per Haman's intentions. Later (14a) R' Aba bar Kahana explains that the the handing over of the ring from Achashveirosh to Haman was more productive mussar resulting in greater teshuvah than the 48 prophets and 7 prophetesses in Jewish history. All of the rebukes and warnings in the world from those 55 exceptional leaders of B'nei Yisroel were not able to make enough of an impression to bring the nation to complete teshuvah. But when B'nei Yisroel observed the actual commencing of their destruction, it brought about unprecedented change. With the story of the Megilla and the simultaneous eclipse of the moon, we are reminded that HaShem graciously gives us signs and warnings in order to help us and allow us to do teshuvah. As we face our modern-day Hamans and threats of similar, if not greater, magnitude, we must be mindful of what HaShem is most probably trying to tell us.

Have a good Shabbos and Chag Purim Samei'ach!
Mishenichnas Adar marbim be'Simchah!
Eliezer Bulka



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