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Sunday, March 16

The Weekly Shtikle - Purim

I apologize for the lack of shtikle before Shabbos. Hopefully, this installment might still be helpful for some:

There are certainly no shortage of interpretations out there for the exact understanding of the ad delo yada obligation on Purim. However, I would like to share yet another which R' Kulefsky, zt"l, would unabashedly repeat nearly every year in the name of the Nesivos. R' Kulefsky would often repeat certain vortlach in their applicable time over and over but would make it clear that he was well aware of the repetition but that it was nevertheless worthwhile for all who have heard it to hear it again.

As an introduction, the gemara (Pesachim 50a) states that whereas in this world, we make the berachah of hatov vehameitiv on joyous news and dayan haemes on unfortunate, saddening  news, in the world to come we will only make the berachah of hatov vehameitiv. The Tzelach asks, what unfortunate saddening news will there be on which to recite hatov vehameitiv? Rather, we will look back in retrospect at the events in history we regarded as sorrowful and realize the truth purpose of each and  every one and realize that it was all for the good.

In fact, even for us in this world, a certain degree of this realization can be reached. The sefer Orchos Tzaddikim (Sh'ar HaSimchah) describes the highest levels of joy, citing the gemara (Berachos 48b and others) which states that just as we recite a blessing on the good, we must recite a blessing on the bad and unfortunate. He understands that when the gemara says kesheim, just like, it means that we should recite a blessing on the bad with the same degree of joy and happiness as that which we do on the good.

In the story of Purim we read about the evil decree of Haman, a mournful moment for the people of that time. And yet, that decree was a catalyst to unprecedented levels of teshuvah and the ultimate deliverance from that imminent threat. And so, suggests Nesivos, the obligation to rejoice on Purim until one does not decipher between "cursed Haman" and "blessed Mordechai" is not to say we should lose our ability to judge and not see the difference between them. Rather, we should reach a level of joy such that, with the utmost clarity, we realize that there is no difference and that even the gravest calamities that befall us are part of a greater good.

We certainly live in turbulent times on many fronts. (Have there ever been times that weren't turbulent?) Our nation faces threats to its very existence at nearly every turn. But perhaps these dire times present an even greater opportunity to use this Purim to strive to reach the realization that everything HaShem does is for the good.


PET PEEVE ALERT: I'm not sure why this has bothered me more this year than other years but it seems no matter where you turn everyone is being taught that Mordechai was Esther's uncle. The problem is it's simply not true. The text of the megillah is very clear on more than one occasion that Mordechai and Esther were first cousins. I tried my best to look around for some source for this all-too-common misconception. I did find this article on the OU's website highlighting the misconception and suggesting some possibilities for its origin. But it's baffling that this has managed to infiltrate so many of our esteemed education institutions.


Purim Torah: The gemara (Yoma 29a) discusses Tehillim 22, beginning with a reference to ayeles hashachar, a passage attributed to Esther. It is asked why Esther is likened to an ayeles, a doe. A doe is cherished by its spouse for all time as if it were the "first hour." Achashveirosh apparently had similar feelings for Esther. What bothered me, though, was how this was unique to a doe. Does a doe and its spouse really enjoy that much more marital bliss than any other species in the animal kingdom. And then, it hit me - that must be why it's called a DEER !!!

Have a Chag Purim Samei'ach. Please check out all Megillah-related Dikdukian posts including one published just now based on something that came up tonight.

Eliezer Bulka

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