Friday, May 17, 2024

Purim View

Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim, “Rabbim machovim lerasha, vehaboteiach baHashem, chessed yisovevenu - There is much pain along the path for the wicked, but one who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by kindness” (Tehillim 32:10). An explanation of this posuk is given by the darshonim. They pound on the bimah and proclaim, “Rabbim,when there are many needs and obligations weighing on a person; when individuals and institutions turn to him for help and it seems as if the requests are coming from all over, all at once, and he can't handle them; at a time like that, a wicked person sees what's happening to him as a machov, a wound. “However, a person who trusts inHashem knows that at a time like that, ‘chessed yisovevenu,' he is being blessed with so much kindness. A good person knows that he is being gifted with so many opportunities to help. A person who perceives people appealing to him for assistance as an opportunity, merits to be the recipient of Divine kindness.”

Rabbeinu Tam in Sefer Hayoshor writes, in fact, that, “When Hashem wants to send a present to his faithful, he sends a poor man to the door of his house.”


This message is especially relevant on Purim. The holiday of Purim represents an ultimate yom tefillah. Purim is the day regarding which Chazal proclaimed, “Kol haposhet yad nosnin lo.” In fact, the mandate ofChazal that whoever extends a hand for help on Purim should be answered, applies to us in ourtefillos. Unworthy as we may consider ourselves, the very act of being “poshet yad,” extending our hands in supplication to Hashem, makes us worthy of a Divine response.


We should try to keep this in mind as we see and hear people beating to our home, ringing our bell (don’t they know how late it is?), stomping in on the carpet (can’t they at least wipe off the snow?), and singing out loud (they will wake up the baby!) for what they really are: chessed yisovevenu. Opportunities.


It is not always easy. In fact, it can be very hard. Merubim tzorchei amcha. There are many groups and many people going door to door hoping for a dash of good mazel, but if you take the time to listen to their stories, you can hear amazing things.


It is true for every Yid, but is especially poignant when it comes to thebochurim, the groups of dancing yeshiva boys who have become such an integral part of the Purim evening.


Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe, felt that every talmid in hismosdos should raise money for good causes. A wealthy chossid once approached the Rebbe and asked that his son be spared from collecting. The wealthy chossid assured the Rebbe that he would happily reimburse the mosdos whatever money the Rebbe thought his son would be able to collect had he ventured out to engage in the inglorious task of knocking on doors and going around the bais medrash with an outstretched hand filled with nickels, dimes and quarters.


The Rebbe smiled and said that davka this boy should join the others in going up and down stairs, ringing doorbells, and circulating shuls for donations.


“With the Ribbono Shel Olam’s help,” the Rebbe explained to the bewildered rich man, “your son will one day be in a position to give tzedakah and many people will solicit him. How will he know and understand what the collectors feel like if he has never experienced the anticipation, the humiliation and the ultimate fulfillment of collecting money for a holy cause?”


And so on Purim, when you think that you have just about had it, here’s something to bear in mind. For a seventeen- or eighteen-year-old bochur, Purim collecting might be his first steps into a world of klal activity. There are no formal classes in askonus or in feeling achrayus and acting upon it. ThePurim experience can charge the boys with the desire to be responsible and organized, swallowing their pride, asking for money, and learning how to sell their cause with passion. When they succeed, they are rewarded with the good feeling that comes with raising money for tzedakah. The door they knock on first might be yours, and your reaction might shape their attitude towards klal work. Make it a positive experience for them.


If one takes the time and makes the effort to see past the commotion, the extra traffic and the noise, one will see a magnificent thing.


Chazal state, “Nichnas yayin yotzah sod – When wine comes in, secrets come out.” The sod of Eisovis “al charbecha tichyeh, to live by the sword.” The Kotzker Rebbe explained that this is the underlying association of a bar or tavern with brawls and fistfights. The sod of a Yid is “ve’ohavta lerei’acha kamocha.This is why there is no day in the calendar so dedicated to ish lerei’eihu like Purim is, said the Kotzker. The drinking of Purim brings out the mutual love and greatness of the Jew.


Kol ha’omer dovor besheim omro maivi geulah le’olamRepeating something in the name of the person from whom you heard it brings redemption to the world.” This rule of Chazal is derived from the story of Megillas Esther. Esther passed on Mordechai’s revelation concerning the plot of Bigson and Seresh to the king, who quickly acted upon it. Achashveirosh was thankful that because of Mordechai he was able to nip the assassination attempt in its infancy. His desire to repay Mordechai for his kindness set in motion a series of events that resulted in bringing geulah to the world. Thus, we learn the importance of always sharing the ideas and thoughts of others with attribution.


Rav Yitzchok Hutner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, who did much to reveal the depths and splendor of Purim to generations of American talmidim, explained how this lesson, which is seemingly a basic premise of mentchlichkeit, is connected with Purim.


He related that you can only quote someone’s statement if the person spoke honestly and of his own free will. If the person only said what he did because he was threatened with bodily harm or injury and because he was under duress, then what he said does not reflect him or his opinion. His comments cannot be attributed to him, because he was forced to say them. Essentially, it wasn’t him speaking. He was merely giving voice to the outside factor that had caused him to utter those words.


Similarly, at the time the Jews accepted the Torah at Har Sinai, they weren’t “quotable,” as their acceptance of the Torah was under duress, having a mountain held in a threatening fashion over their heads. At the time of the miracle of Purim, they willingly affirmed their commitment to kabbolas haTorah. When they did so, their words were worthy of being quoted and attributed to them, since those words now reflected their true desire. Thus, the dictum of “ha’omeir dovor besheim omro” became eminently applicable to the acceptance of Torah and its derivation is thus tied to Purim.


Perhaps we can suggest that this idea is true on an individual level as well. People say many things throughout the year. Often, the statements are well intentioned, but the reality is that the people making them are not really holding by what they say.


On one day of the year, people really do mean what they say and don’t just say things for effect. The day on which there is no daas, there are no cheshbonos and ulterior motives prompting the statements. Words emanate from the heart and reflect the speaker’s true feelings. The Purimdike Yid doesn’t worry about kavod, politics and political correctness, so when he speaks, his essence is speaking, and what he says is quotable and attributable to him.


On Purim,too, the lechayim we proclaim as we fulfill the mitzvah of chayov inish livisumei bePuriah brings added life to us, as it raises us to the level of being able to speak words of unvarnished truth, without designs or machinations. It leads us to declare devorim hayotzim min halev and reveal what really lies in our hearts.


In a world filled with darkness and spiritual apathy, if we are willing to tilt our ears to listen, we will hear that timeless cry of “retzoneinu la’asos retzoncha.” If we open our ears to really listen to people of all ages who reveal their innermost thoughts on Purim, we can have the merit of being able to provide the chizuk and reassurance those people need, making sure that their holy, Purimdike words and thoughts remain with them long after the lechayim has worn off.


On Purim, if the person seated next to you begins to express feelings that are attributable to a lack of self-worth, remind him how much good he possesses and how much Hashem loves him. Give him an injection of simcha that will last long after theseudah is done. You can remind him of special things he has accomplished and that others really do appreciate him. If he tells you how much he wants to learn but is held back because of this and that, and that if only he had a good rebbi, if only he had time, if only he had the ability, you can help him see and appreciate the myriad opportunities that are around – and within – him.


If at times during the year we feel besieged and get weighted down by negativity, Purim presents an opportunity to rise above the pessimism and to recognize potential and hope.


In 1945, the Klausenberger Rebbe held a Purim tish in Feldafing, the first Displaced Persons camp established by the Allies for survivors of Nazi concentration camps. Despite the terrible losses and years of deprivation sustained by those who participated in thattish, the mood was intensely joyous. There was a palpable sense there that the netzach Yisroel, the eternity of the nation that had just undergone a brutal beating, was never more assured. Heroic lager Yidden sat around the table, listening to the Rebbe share divrei Torah, stories and insights. The Rebbe himself was in a particularly festive mood, his smile never leaving his face. At one point during thetish, the Rebbecalled a man to the head of the table.


“Reb Yankel,” he said, “you are deserving of malkos. Come here next to me to receive yourpunishment.”


Reb Yankel, though unsure of what sin he had committed for which the Rebbe believed he was deserving of malkos, smiled as he walked towards the saintly tzaddik. Everyone in the room watched, trying to figure out what was going on.


When the survivor approached the head of the table, the Rebbe grew serious and addressed those present.


“Reb Yankel worked next to me in the camp,” he began. “He would turn to me and worry that we are lost. He feared that we would never leave the camp alive. I want you all to know that you must never give up hope. Never. Ever. For that, we need to punish him.”


His point made, the Purim spirit returned to the Rebbe, to Yankel, and to everyone else in that room.


On Purim, the Jew must know that everything is possible. Yesh tikvah.


On Purim, it all comes together – the ordinary, the extraordinary, the mundane and the miraculous. Nothing is a miracle and everything is a miracle. On Purim, we know that no matter how desperate everything looks, and regardless of how bleak and depressing our world may appear, we must never give up hope. We must always find a reason to smile.


This Purim, we can all do our part to increase joy in the world. We can give the people we encounter reason to hope for a better day. We should allow the people we meet to express their dreams, bringing forth the longing in their hearts. We can help make those dreams reality.


So when Purim arrives, be ready. It might be with your money and it might be with your time and patience. Either way, you can give a matonah la’evyonim like no other.


For every Jew is an evyon, needing so much from his fellow man, but every Jew is also the biggest nosein, blessed with resources of kindness and love with which he can make miracles for those around him.


Ah freilichen Purim.



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