Shabbos, Parshas Zachor, Erev Purim, Purim, Shushan Purim, drinking, Mishloach Manos, Matanos Laevyonim, Megillah reading, Seudas Purim. So much to talk about and so little time. Let’s talk about the Korban Olah. The Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 7:3) states that the Korban Olah was offered for improper thoughts. We also find (Zevachim 88b) that the avnet, the belt worn by the Kohen, atoned for improper thoughts. What is the association between the Korban Olah and the belt worn by the Kohen? Perhaps the answer to this question can be found in the story of Purim. There is a debate whether the Jews actually partook in forbidden food at the feast of Achashveirosh or if the Sages ran away and others were forced to eat. (See Gemara Megillah 12a and Yalkut Esther 1048.) The Medrash (Esther Rabbah 7:13) however, states that Haman advised Achashveirosh to arrange for immorality at the feast, so the Jews would sin. thus, even if the Jews did not actually violate any overt sin at the feast, it appears that they sinned by having immoral thoughts. For such sins the Jews would have been required to bring a Korban Olah. Furthermore, Achashveirosh bedecked himself in the vestments of the Kohen gadol and the Jews did not protest this heinous act. The avnet, the belt that the Kohen wore, was the garment that kept most of the clothing together. The mind, the seat of thought and emotion, is the most important component of the body. When one sins with the mind, the entire body is contaminated. Similarly, when the Jews sinned in thought at the feast, they deserved annihilation because, as the expression goes, “the fish stinks from the head.” The Jews were saved, however, because Mordechai, who is alluded to as בשמים ראש, literally head of spices, came to their rescue with prayer and sackcloth. Interestingly, Mordechai donned sackcloth to demonstrate that the Jews should not be reckless in their dress and appearance, which leads to immoral thoughts. And yes, the gematria of הרהור is בזה אבנט מכפר, the belt atones. A person is where his thoughts are, and if one maintains purity of thought, he deserves redemption. Regarding the mitzvah of eradicating Amalek we are instructed to remember what Amalek did to us, with our mouths, and not to forget, with our hearts. When we fill our hearts with love for HaShem and His Torah and mitzvos we can be assured that we will eradicate the evil and raise up the Head of the fish, the mazel of Adar.
Have a Great Shabbos and a Freilichen Purim and Shushan Purim!