Thursday, Dec 2, 2021

Kortz un Sharf- Short and Sweet Purim Vertlach

NO COMPLAINTS In his youth, the Tchebiner Rov was a successful merchant. He would distribute large sums of tzedaka, especially on Purim. Later on he lost his fortune and accepted a Rabbonus in order to eke out a meager living.

During his first Purim as a Rov, the townspeople brought him mishloach manos, and included handsome donations. When the Rebetzin saw their gifts, she began to weep. “We used to send mishloach manos and generous donations for the poor, and now we are on the receiving end,” she cried.

To which the Rov wittily replied, “Remember what you have just said. Next year on Purim, if we do not get any ‘gifts’, don’t have any complaints…”

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NOT A FREE RIDE…
One Purim, Reb Mordechai of Lechovitch announced, “Chazal teach us, “Kol haposhet yad, nosnim lo.” One who stretches out his hand on Purim, is given a donation. Whoever is in need of anything should ask for a yeshuah, and he will be helped.

Throngs of chassidim gathered around the Rebbe, each with their request. One wanted to achieve heights in Torah, the other needed to marry off a daughter, the third asked for good health. Rebbe Mordechai noticed that his star disciple, Reb Moshe Kobriner, did not ask for anything. “Why are you silent?” said his Rebbe.

“I don’t want to ask for a matnas chinom, a free ride,” replied the Kobriner. “I want to receive only whatever I can achieve with my own efforts.”

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READING BACKWARDS

 “Hakorei es Hamegilah L’mafrayah lo Yotzoh:”

“One who reads the megillah backwards has not fulfilled his obligation.” (Megillah 2:41)

Rav Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtze happened to be in Warsaw one year on Taanis Esther. He turned to one of the community leaders, Reb Shmuel Dovid Zolberg, and exclaimed, “Reb Shmuel Dovid, one can understand the medrosh of ‘hakoreh megillah l’mafrayah’ in this manner:

“Someone who is unacquainted with the Purim story, and hears it being read for the first time, may wonder what connection it has with Klal Yisroel. Why so much detail about the seudas Achashveirosh? Who cares about Vashti’s execution? To the uninitiated, it seems like a random collection of events. Until the sixth chapter, when “the king’s sleep was disturbed.” Then, like pieces of a puzzle, it all comes into place.

“One understands how the Ribono Shel Olam orchestrated the happenings, one after the other, until their triumphant conclusion with the deliverance of Klal Yisroel from annihilation.

“Our Father prepared the cure before the affliction, saving His beloved nation. But such a reading of the megillah,” continued Reb Meir Yechiel, “is not a reading at all! One who reads the megillah backwards has not fulfilled his obligation. A Yid must believe from the beginning that every thing that happens is for the benefit of Klal Yisroel. It is very easy to be a believer at the end, when it falls into place. After the miracle occurred, “v’rabim mayamai hooretz misyahadim,” many of the goyim tried to pass as Jews. At that point, even the Persians believed in G-d.”

“But a true believer,” concluded Rav Meir Yechiel, “is one who never doubts in the Ribono Shel Olam’s hashgocha protis, even when things are difficult. A true baal bitachon is one who believes that everything is for the best!”

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A DAY “LIKE PURIM”

The Berditchever Rebbe explained that Holy S’forim relate that  Yom Kippur is K’purim, likened to Purim.

The difference is that on Purim, we fast a day earlier (Taanis Esther), and on Yom Kippur, we eat a day earlier. Both days, the soton has plenty of ammunition against Klal Yisroel. On Purim he complains, “Look how your nation is eating and drinking and making merry.”

Instantly, the defending angel points out, “Just yesterday the Jews fasted and prayed; today, let them eat and make merry.”

On Erev Yom Kippur, the soton starts up once again and says, “Look how Your people are eating and drinking, oblivious to the yom hadin.”  The defending angel then shows him how Klal Yisroel stand and daven in shul the next day, like angels.

This is the meaning of “v’hoser soton milfoneinu u’mayacharaynu.” We silence the soton before Purim with Taanis Esther, and we silence the soton after Erev Yom Kippur with the holiness of Yom Kippur.

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MARSHALLING THIER INNER RESERVES

When the Chovos Hatalmidim, Rav Klonomus Kalman Shapiro was in the Ghetto during the Holocaust, he would strengthen and encourage the broken, dispirited Jews with divrei chizuk. During these harrowing days, he somehow found the time, and the capabilities, to write a sefer of chidushim entitled “Eish Kodesh.”

When Purim arrived, he told the exhausted inmates, fellow Jews who had given up hope, “Just as we must fast on Yom Kippur in the concentration camp, even though it is difficult, so, too, on Purim we must be b’simcha, even though it is very difficult.” In this manner, he lifted their spirits and infused them with hope on this holy day.

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CLIMBING HIGHER

The S’fas Emes explained that just as on Yom Kippur the Kohen Godol enters the Holy of Holies, so, too on Purim, every Yid can enter spiritual ‘palaces’, lofty heights which he cannot attain all year.

This is alluded to in the possuk, “u’vchain ovo el hamelech asher lo kadus,” And I will approach the king in a manner that is not in accordance with the law. On Purim, we can have access to the King that we are not granted during the rest of the year.

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WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There are miracles that Hashem does for His nation through denigrating the enemy, and there are miracles that Hashem does by elevating Klal Yisroel. The miracle of Purim included both aspects: Haman and his cohorts were destroyed, and the Jews were elevated.

According to the Turei Zahav, that is the meaning of the gemara, “A person must drink until he does not know the difference between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai.” We must reach the point where we can’t figure out which is a greater miracle, the denigration of Haman or the elevation of Mordechai.

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WHY ME?

When Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik was the Rov in Brisk, the poritz of the city decided to move the taverns and factories to another location, thereby depriving a lot of Yidden of their parnossa. The Jews went to the Brisker Rov to cry about the evil decree. During a stormy meeting during which the Rov was present, community leaders decided to try and change the poritz’s mind through bribery.

The tavern and factory leasers were notified that they would have to raise a sum of money with which to bribe the poritz. The business owners agreed, until it came to forking over the money. Then, each of them tried to finagle their way out of the agreement with different excuses.

Rav Yoshe Ber then turned to them and said, “Rabbosai! I owe you a big debt of gratitude. Thanks to your behavior, a puzzling question in the megillah has been clarified. I never understood how Haman was able to bribe Achashverosh with 10,000 silver pieces while the Jews stood by silently. Why didn’t they try to appease the king with a counter bribe?”

As the men listened carefully, the Rav continued, “The Yidden wanted to bribe the king with 20,000 gold coins, and they even called a meeting to that effect. However, when it came to actually giving the money, each of them had a different excuse, and said, ‘let my neighbor give.’ Thus, they ended up being unable to raise the money, and Haman was able to go about his plans.”

It took only a short while, and the entire sum was raised…

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FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY

On the Apter Rov’s table there were piles of money, given to the Rebbe for pidyonos. On Purim especially, the chassidim brought money along with their Mishloach Manos, and the rubles began piling up. To the surprise of the chassidim, the Apter Rav began to play with the coins, holding them up and admiring them. He then handed them away to tzedokoh, to feed the poor.

In answer to his chassidim, the Apter Rav explained, “How can I fulfill the mitzvah of matanos le’evyonim, giving funds to the poor, with a full heart? I don’t have any desire for money. Thus, I forced myself to admire the money, so that it should have some value to me. Thus I will be rewarded for giving it away.”

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THE “SECOND HAMAN”

The maskilim in Galicia waged a bitter battle against the ehrliche Yidden, and often informed on them to the authorities. Once, the minister in the town near Belz heard slanderous reports from the maskilim, and summoned the Belzer Rov, saying, “You know, I am the second Haman!”

The Belzer Rov was not afraid, and replied, “The first Haman also did not have too much success!”

This calm reply, and the tzaddik’s shining countenance, made a tremendous impression on the minister, who pledged not to accept the maskilim’s lies anymore.

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SUSTAINING THE WORLD

The Kotzker Rebbe once said to his mechutan, father of the Avnei Nezer, the Kotzker’s son-in-law, “Do you know why you merited the blessing of such a holy son? Because of your minhag on Purim, to eat the seuda quickly and then go to learn.

Since you had the exemplary merit of learning when no one was learning Torah, you sustained the world. In this merit, you were granted a son who lights up the world with his Torah.”

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NO ULTERIER MOTIVES
The Sar Sholom of Belz, Rav Sholom Rokeach, was blessed with a strong and powerful voice. The chassidim who heard their Rebbe learn and daven with d’veikus were roused to teshuvah. The Rebbe’s megillah reading was so loud and powerful, that the words could be heard a great distance away!

Two sons of the Belzer Rebbe, Rav Yehoshua and Rav Elazar, were once traveling. On Purim, they went to a local shul and heard the megillah reading. During Kriyas Hamegillah, Rav Elazar began to weep with nostalgia when he recalled his father’s megillah leining.

His brother, Rav Yehoshua, tried to comfort him after the megillah was read, with the following words: “This megillah leining was a source of simcha to me, because I was sure that I fulfilled the mitzvah with the proper intent. When Tatteh leins the megillah, I enjoy it so much that I am afraid the mitzvah was not done b’shleimus. Now I am sure that I fulfilled the mitzvah without external pleasure.”

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ATONING FOR OUR MISDEEDS

Rav Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev said, “By reading the megillah  are me’orer the same miracles that our parents experienced during the days of Mordechai and Esther in Shushan.”

The Radomsker Rebbe, the Baal Chesed l’Avrohom, explained the mishna, “On the Fifteenth of Adar one reads the megillah and improves the roads” to mean that by reading the megillah, one can atone for all our missteps on the roads of life….

The Munkatcher Rebbe, the Baal Minchas Elazar attested that through the megillah, one can tap into all the yeshuos we so desperately await.

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