Toras Purim 5772
The time has come again for us to delve into the mysteries and secrets of Purim and Adar and Haman and Achashveirosh and Esther and Mordechai and Zeresh and Vayezasa and the snake. Snake? Some say that Bigsan and Seresh took poison from a snake in their attempt to do away with Achashveirosh. Pretty courageous fellows, they were, no? Well, however they wanted to accomplish their nefarious deed, they didn’t get too far, and they got hung on a tree like all the villains of that time. Now, it’s a pretty shameful thing to get hung on a tree, and the word for shame in the Torah is בוז, which, believe it or not, is pronounced in English as Booze! So now that we are getting closer to the theme of the day, let’s take a closer look at the association of בוז and Purim.
It is said (Bereishis 25:34) וַיִּבֶז עֵשָׂו אֶת-הַבְּכֹרָה, thus, Esav spurned the birthright, and in the Megillah (3:6) it is said וַיִּבֶז בְּעֵינָיו לִשְׁלֹחַ יָד בְּמָרְדֳּכַי לְבַדּוֹ–כִּי-הִגִּידוּ לוֹ, אֶת-עַם מָרְדֳּכָי, however, it seemed contemptible to him to send [his] hand against Mordechai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordechai. The Baal HaTurim (Ibid Bereishis) notes that the Torah uses the word וַיִּבֶז regarding Esav and Haman. We know that Haman was a direct descendant of Esav, and the Megillah teaches us that Haman drank a lot of BOOZE and he also had his fair share of בוז. It doesn’t get much worse than having one’s own daughter dumping garbage on her father’s head. Now that we have made that connection, we can proceed with some interesting connections between booze and Purim. For starters (not drinks) in the Megillah (8:11) it is said וּשְׁלָלָם לָבוֹז, and to plunder their possessions, and the word שְׁלָלָם equals 400 in gematria. Esav, as you may recall, came to fight against Yaakov with 400 men, so that makes another connection between Esav, Haman and בוז. While we are on the topic of 400, we find that Haman is also associated with 400. Haman’s father was הַמְּדָתָא, and the word הַמְּדָתָא equals 400+50. This alludes to the 400 men of Esav, which represent the 400 forces of evil in the world, and 50 alludes to the height of the tree that Haman was hung on. And now back to BOOZE. It is said (Ibid 3:15) וְהַמֶּלֶךְ וְהָמָן יָשְׁבוּ לִשְׁתּוֹת, וְהָעִיר שׁוּשָׁן נָבוֹכָה, the king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Shushan was bewildered. It would seem that these two statements are mutually exclusive. The king and Haman sat down to drink, and the city of Shushan was confounded. However, perhaps the Megillah is teaching us that because the king and Haman sat down to have a few drinks, their intoxication caused them to have a skewed view of things, and Shushan became somewhat blurry in their eyes.
Ok, so now that we covered some basics regarding בוז, it is now to time to proceed to the mitzvas hayom, which we all know is about drinking the BOOZE. While this may appear to be a sensitive issue, there is a great difficulty with the mitzvah of drinking BOOZE on Purim. The problem with this mitzvah is that only men are required to drink on Purim. While normally there is no difficulty with only men performing specific mitzvos, this particular mitzvah poses a great difficulty for women, and my understanding is (and years of experience has shown) that Jewish women abhor husbands (when they drink) on Purim. How is it, then, that our Sages, of Blessed Memory, instructed us with this holy mitzvah of becoming intoxicated on Purim, much to the dismay and dislike, not to mention extra cleaning up hours, of women? If a Jewish man does not ponder this question every year when Purim arrives, then he is worthy of eternal shame, as the Arizal writes that a man’s essential judgment in the Next World is based on how he behaved towards his wife. Now, there are opinions who maintain that one should drink a little on Purim and then go to sleep, fulfilling the mitzvah in this manner. However, in reality this will not be a better recipe for Shalom bayis. Can you imagine a man who is conducting the Purim Seudah and take s a little to drink and then disappears for the remainder of the Seudah? Who is going to entertain the guests with Divrei Toirah, Grammen and Shoshanas Yaakov? I don’t venture that the women will be in the least interested in entertaining their guests except by preparing and serving the food. Now, singing gramnen about their drunken husbands would be something that they may fantasize about, but probably will not happen. So how , then, do we resolve this enigma about men drinking until they reach who knows what and women wishing that they could be on another planet, as far away from Mars as possible?
The answer to this puzzling dilemma is actually provided by Haman himself as it is said (Esther 1:17) כִּי-יֵצֵא דְבַר-הַמַּלְכָּה עַל-כָּל-הַנָּשִׁים, לְהַבְזוֹת בַּעְלֵיהֶן בְּעֵינֵיהֶן: בְּאָמְרָם, הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ אָמַר לְהָבִיא אֶת-וַשְׁתִּי הַמַּלְכָּה לְפָנָיו–וְלֹא-בָאָה, for the queen’s deed will go forth to all women, making their husband’s contemptible in their eyes, when they will say, ‘King Achashveirosh said to bring Queen Vashti before him, but she did not come!’ Haman himself declared that the husbands would be contemptible in their wives’ eyes. You know, when it comes to matters so important as Shidduchim, we don’t allow the younger sister to get married before her older sister, and that is all due to good ol’ Uncle Lavan, of whom it is said (Bereishis 29:26) וַיֹּאמֶר לָבָן, לֹא-יֵעָשֶׂה כֵן בִּמְקוֹמֵנוּ–לָתֵת הַצְּעִירָה, לִפְנֵי הַבְּכִירָה, Lavan said, “Such is not done in our place, to give the younger before the elder.”. We can assume, then, that someone as inferior as Lavan was able to determine Jewish law, then certainly Haman, the great vizier, should be able to influence Jewish law for eternity. (Especially according to the Medrash that states that Purim will never cease to exist). So here we have it. Haman basically set the precedent that women should be embarrassed by their husbands’ conduct. It is no coincidence, then, that Zeresh, Haman’s wife, was the one who set in motion her husband’s demise, as she was probably fed up with Haman’s reckless behavior, not to mention his bouts of drinking with his old friend, Achashveirosh. Ok, so Haman determined that women should, be embarrassed by their husbands’ conduct at the Purim Seudah. Is this fair to women? You know, I always wondered why women celebrate Rosh Chodesh more than men. True, the women didn’t worship the Golden Calf, and they had to literally have their ears torn off so the men could make the idol. What does this have to do with Rosh Chodesh, however? And, what does this question have to do with BOOZE? Well, regarding the Golden Calf it is said (Shemos 32:25) וַיַּרְא מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הָעָם, כִּי פָרֻעַ הוּא: כִּי-פְרָעֹה אַהֲרֹן, לְשִׁמְצָה בְּקָמֵיהֶם, Moshe saw the people, that it was exposed, for Aharon had exposed them to disgrace among those who had risen up against them. So we see again that the men disgraced themselves in front of their wives by worshipping the Golden Calf. HaShem therefore rewarded the women with the celebration of Rosh Chodesh, when the moon is least visible. This was meant to be a lesson to then men to stop trying to always shine (even in the moonlight) and to defer to their wives’ wisdom. I would therefore like to suggest that all men make the effort this Purim to abstain from drinking any BOOZE. Although our Sages instituted this mitzvah with lofty intentions, they certainly did not desire that the Jewish women be disgraced by their husbands’ behaviors. Perhaps to fulfill the mitzvah the men should drink out of sight of their wives and allow for a peaceful and joyous Seudah. Look, I am just suggesting. I’m now worse than Haman, who also didn’t want to be disgraced by his wife. I guess that’s a real וְנַהֲפוֹךְ הוּא, as Haman tried to avoid being disgraced by his wife and in the end, he went (up and then ) down in history as the biggest enemy of the Jewish People. Until his descendant from Iran arose, but that’s a story we will save for a future Purim!
Purim Stories and Maasehs ( I didn’t say Bubba)
In an Instant
Once upon a time there lived two kings who had a long-standing dispute over a border territory. Each claimed that the disputed territory belonged to him. Finally, after many battles which resulted in much human loss and drained their royal treasuries, they decided to end their fighting and make a thorough investigation to find out who had the right to the land in dispute.
In the course of the investigation, one of the kings discovered that he was a descendant of Haman, the son of Hamdatha the chief minister of King Ahasuerus in Shushan, the capital of ancient Persia and Medea.
The discovery made the king very happy. “Now I will capture two birds in one net,” he said to himself. “First of all, I will take revenge for my ancestor Haman, whom Mordecai and Esther sent to the gallows, together with his ten sons. Secondly, I would force the Jews of my land to pay me a large sum of money each year by way of compensation. That should certainly turn their happy festival of Purim from gladness to sadness.”
The king immediately issued a decree that the Jews in his land must pay ten thousand silver kikar (talent) to the royal treasury on the day of Purim. At the same time, the Jews had to deliver to the King a Jew named Mordecai to be hanged on that day.
On hearing the cruel decree, the Jews cried out in horror and despair. They knew that three things help to annul a cruel decree: Repentance, Prayer and Charity. So they began an intensive move to improve their ways, to pray with greater devotion and give more charity than they had done before.
They also sent messengers to the great Rabbis in other lands begging them to pray in their behalf for a miraculous delivery from their distress.
Two of these messengers came to the famous Gaon Rabbi Moshe Isserlis (Rema) in Cracow (Poland). They told the famous Rabbi their sad story. In reply, the Rema told them that he could not help them. But he advised them to go to see a poor tailor who could help them. The Rema told them where the tailor lived, and added: “If the tailor will not immediately agree to help you, tell him that I sent you to him.”
When the two messengers reached the tailor’s poor, tumble-down shack, the tailor received them rather coldly, saying, “I see that your clothes are in no need of mending, so why have you come to me. It is a pity for both you and me to waste our time. You see I am busy.”
The messengers tearfully related their sad story of the terrible decree, threatening the Jewish community in their country, adding emphatically: “The saintly Rema sent us to you.”
Hearing the name of the Rema, the tailor stood up and his whole bearing changed.
“Go home in peace,” he said in a friendly tone. “The Almighty has already accepted your prayers, and everything will be alright.”
The day of Purim was fast approaching, and the Jews’ fear grew from day to day. If they did not deliver the fine, together with a fellow Jew named Mordecai to be publicly hanged, the cruel king had vowed to drive them all out from his kingdom without mercy, and to take over their possessions.
The Jews gathered in the synagogues, and prayed to HaShem as never before; while the cruel king was looking forward with glee to the public ceremony he had prepared for the hanging of a Jew Mordecai.
That night the king could not fall asleep. When he finally did so, he awoke almost immediately and was terrified to see a saintly-looking old, strange Jew standing near his bed, with a mysterious smile on his face.
Baffled and terrified, the king threw a quick glance at the clock, wondering whether it was day or night. Then he quickly jumped out of bed and grabbed a sword which was hanging on the wall. He ran to the door intending to attack the bodyguards for allowing the Jew to enter the king’s bed-chamber. But the minute he opened the door, a strong whirlwind lifted him up in the air and carried him aloft.
In deadly fright, the king passed out. When he regained consciousness, he found himself in an abandoned ancient cemetery, which was surrounded by high stone walls. This threw him into an even greater terror, and he began to shout: “Help! Help!” But no one answered.
For many hours he felt very confused and full of despair. He was also tortured by hunger and thirst. His clothes were torn and ragged as he tried unsuccessfully to climb the high walls.
Again he began to call out: “Help! Save me!” But all that came back was a deadly silence.
Suddenly he saw that strange old Jew he had seen in his royal bedroom. The stranger was carrying a basket of bread in one hand and a jug of water in the other. This time, the king was happy to see him, and he begged him to save him from his desperate situation.
The Jew paid the king no attention. He just left the bread and water and disappeared.
The following morning, after a most dreadful night, the old Jew again came, bringing bread and water. Again, without speaking a word, he disappeared. The same thing was repeated again on the third day. This time, the old man asked the king: “Do you wish to say anything?”
The king went to pieces, fell to the feet of the old Jew and begged him for mercy.
“I have sinned terribly against the innocent Jews in my country,” the king said. “But I swear that I will nullify the decree against them and will treat them with justice and kindness in the future. Please, please, free me from this hell. I cannot bear it any longer.”
“If you will give me this assurance in writing, with your signature, I will free you and you will again be king in your country,” the Jew replied.
“This I shall most gladly do,” the king answered. He immediately wrote out a new decree, canceling the previous decree against the Jews, and promising never again to issue any harsh decree against them. After signing the document, the King handed it to the Jew.
No sooner had the king done this than he felt a strong wind lifting him up and carrying him away. He became terrified and fell into a faint. When he recovered, he found himself in bed in his royal palace. Near his bed stood the same mysterious Jew who had entered without permission the night that the king had first been carried off by a whirlwind to the distant, awful cemetery. In his hand, the Jew held the document that the king had given him.
The king turned to the old Jew reproachfully: “Why did you have to torture me for such a long time?”
With a mysterious smile on his lips, the Jew raised his hand in which he held the document and, pointing to the clock showed him that the hands on the clock’s face stood at the same position as they were the instant when the king was carried away from his palace. Full of astonishment, the king realized that the entire terrible experience had lasted just one instant! (Credit of www.Chabad.org and don’t blame me if you don’t think it’s true)
Toras Purim 5772 is not sponsored by anybody or anything or any nuclear warhead or any evidence or any plan or any containment or any plan on a table or any char or clock or desk or anything that would even remotely mention a hint of trying to defend ourselves from our enemies, whether they be in Iran or the White House, and certainly no connection to anyone who may end up in the White House in 2013. So there you have it, a totally sponsor less Toras Purim, made all the more erratic and sporadic by static that keeps coming out of the Oval Office. Thank you, and for those who don’t understand, don’t even start trying to decipher any riddles that you may have read about recently. But I can assure you that none of this is a Bubba Maaseh. Yet, stay tuned for great events in the world. And those who understand, understand!
Prepared By Rabbi Binyomin Adler