Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Continuation of Previous Post: Purim and Kaparah


The above is the answer to why Jews celebrate so much on Purim. Of course, it is partially because of Haman's, ym"sh's, evil plan to annihilate the Jewish People being obliterated.

However, the Jewish People being saved from Haman's, ym"sh's, "final solution" is also part of the Kaparah equation. By connecting the "Arba Parshios" ("Four Parshios" we read - two before and two after Purim) and the current weekly parshios, we can see how they, and Purim, all elaborately fit together in a web of Kaparah. It is also a summary of the Jewish People's history. It answers why the Jewish People have been punished, how to stop that punishment, as well as how to bring about our Redemption. Nowadays, in addition to our constant obligation to yearn for the coming of the Mashiach, current events seem to be pushing us, the Jewish People, both as individuals, and as a whole, united People, to yearn for our Redemption and the building of our Beis HaMikdash, the design of the Beis HaMikdash is described close to the end of Sefer Yechezkhel (the Book of Ezekiel).

Probably the best way to fit the "puzzle" together to try to see the "whole picture" of Jewish History, we should start from the beginning, the first of the
Arba Parshios – Parshas Shekalim.

These Arba Parshios, along with Purim, describe why it is that the Jewish People have suffered and how we have been extracted from that suffering. The Story of Purim has to do with “hester panim” or the “Hiding of HaShem’s Face”. HaShem tells us through his prophets, “return to me and I shall return to you”.

We see that Megillas Esther is all about HaShem’s Presence being hidden. If fact, in the gemara, Chullin (139b) we learn the following:

“Where [in the Torah to we see a hint to] Esther’s [name]? ‘And I Shall surely hide…’” On the above, RaSH”I comments as follows: “‘The incident of Esther’ – ‘I Shall surely hide’ – In the days of Esther there will be Hester Panim (a Hiding of HaShem’s Face) and many evils and troubles will find the Jews.”

To better understand the above, we must look into the passage dealing with Hester Panim – Devarim – 31; 16 – 18:

(פסוק טז) ויאמר י-ה-ו-ה אל משה, הנך שכב עם אבתיך; וקם העם הזה וזנה אחרי אלהי נכר הארץ, אשר הוא בא שמה בקרבו, ועזבני, והפר את בריתי אשר כרתי אתו.
(פסוק יז) וחרה אפי בו ביום ההוא ועזבתים והסתרתי פני מהם, והיה לאכל, ומצאהו רעות רבות, וצרות; ואמר, ביום ההוא, הלא על כי אין א-להי בקרבי, מצאוני הרעות האלה.
(פסוק יח) ואנכי, הסתר אסתיר פני ביום ההוא, על כל הרעה, אשר עשה: כי פנה, אל אלהים אחרים.

"And HaShem said to Moshe, behold you will lie with your fathers (i.e. die); And this nation will arise and will stray after the foreign gods of The Land, which he (the Jewish People) is coming in his (the idolaters) midst, and they will abandon Me, and they will [(act in a way as if)] nullify My Covenant which I made with him: And My Anger shall flare up on that day, and I shall abandon them and I shall Hide My Face from them, and they shall be for consumption, and many evils and troubles will find them; And he will say, on that day, 'Is it not because my G-D is not in my midst, these evils have found me: And I shall surely Hide My Face on that day, on account of all the evil, which was done, for he turned to other gods."

Before turning to other commentaries, we can notice something of great value from what the reading, based on a literal translation of the text, is telling us. Instead of reading (from pasuk 17): 'Is it not because my G-D is not in my midst...', it could be read, 'Is it not because my G-D is not inside me'. At first reading, this translation might sound a bit absurd. However, as our Rabbis explain, each individual Jew should make himself into a small Beis HaMikdash where HaShem's Presence (Shechinah) can reside. Just as HaShem's Presence can "limit" itself to residing in the Beis HaMikdash, we find that it resides amongst the Jewish People, as well as righteous individuals who are deserving of it. The Shechinah dwelled on Ya'akov, for example. In fact, we say before we go to sleep that the Shechinah resides on our face - "v'al roshi Shechinas El".

Why did the Jews not have protection from the gods they turned to if they tried to separate from HaShem in favor of those other gods? Was it that the Jews thought they were more powerful?

Of course not, in general they turned to the idols because they didn't want to be "subject" to HaShem's laws. There are other reasons, as well, such as the very strong inclination back in those days to worship idolatry, to such an extent that the worshippers had a great desire to worship these gods.

With respect to the "other gods", the Torah calls them "אלהים אחרים" - "other gods" to teach us that they "acted" as a stranger to their worshippers. The worshippers always asked the idol for blessing and were, of course, never answered.

In Hallel, we read the following from Tehillim, chapter 115:

(פסוק א) לא לנו י-ה-ו-ה, לא לנו: כי לשמך, תן כבוד:על חסדך, על אמתך.
(פסוק ב) למה, יאמרו הגוים: איה נא, אלהיהם.
(פסוק ג) וא-להינו בשמים: כל אשר חפץ עשה.
(פסוק ד) עצביהם, כסף וזהב; מעשה, ידי אדם.
(פסוק ה) פה להם, ולא ידברו; עינים להם, ולא יראו.
(פסוק ו) אזנים להם, ולא ישמעו; אף להם, ולא יריחון.
(פסוק ז) ידיהם, ולא ימישון:רגליהם, ולא יהלכו; לא יהגו, בגרונם.
(פסוק ח) כמוהם, יהיו עשיהם: כל אשר בטח בהם.
(פסוק ט) ישראל, בטח בי-ה-ו-ה; עזרם ומגנם הוא.
(פסוק י) בית אהרן, בטחו בי-ה-ו-ה; עזרם ומגנם הוא.
(פסוק יא) יראי י-ה-ו-ה, בטחו בי-ה-ו-ה; עזרם ומגנם הוא

"Why do the nations say, 'Where is their G-D?': And our G-D is in the Heavens, all that He Wishes, He Does: Their idols are silver and gold, the work of the hands of man: They have a mouth, and they do not speak; They have eyes, and they do not see: They have ears, and they do not hear; They have a nose, and they do not smell: Their hands, and they do not feel; Their legs, and they do not walk; They do not groan with their throats: Like them will be all those who make them, all those who trust in them: Yisrael trusts in HaShem; He is their Help and their Protector: The House of Aharon trusts in HaShem; He is their Help and their Protector: Those that fear HaShem trust in HaShem; He is their Help and their Protector:"

From the above passage in Tehillim we see how those that trust in HaShem have protection, whereas, lehavdil, those who "trust" in idols have all the protection the idols can offer - none. That is why they are called "אלהים אחרים" - the only thing they can do is absolutely nothing, thus in their quintessential passivity they "act" as "another" to their worshippers.


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