Purim and the expulsion of our enemies from Israel
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Main message of Purim: Them or us!
The Talmud in Tractate Megilla, 11a states, Rabbi Levi summarizes in one verse the essence of the Megillah and of the holiday of Purim by quoting the verse (Numbers 33) “If you do not disinherit the inhabitants of the land (drive them out).”
This is a baffling statement. After all, what does driving the gentiles out of Israel have to do with Purim? This question is only strengthened when we take into account that the holiday of Purim occurred in exile, in Persia, and has nothing to do with Eretz Israel.
An additional question can be asked with regard to the specific verse that Rabbi Levi quoted. The verse states that if we are reluctant to expel the nations from the land of Israel they will remain as thorns in our sides. And as the commentaries explain, they will yet arm themselves to chase us out of the land.
Must this be so? Why can’t there be coexistence between Jews and Arabs? Why is the Torah so negative about the prospects for peace?
Why was Esther initially unsuccessful in nullifying the evil decree against the Jews?
Another question begs to be asked. We learn from the Megillah that the actual decree against the Jews was requested by Haman and approved by King Ahashverosh on the 13th of Nissan, 11 months before the day designated for the Holocaust in Adar. Esther did succeed in convincing Ahashverosh to hang Haman three days after the initial decree was passed, when she pleaded before Ahashverosh at the grand party. However, the decree to annihilate the Jews was not nullified until the 23rd of Sivan, 70 days later. Why was Esther unable to have the order rescinded earlier? What was lacking in her approach?
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi Of Zefat, asks this question and offers the following explanation based on a story told in the Zohar.
Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, was with his friends in a field when he spotted a snake. The snake was chasing someone and was about to kill him when Rabbi Elazar spoke to the animal, calling upon him to leave the Jew alone, since he had repented and no longer merited to be killed. The snake stopped in his path and froze. And in spite of the fact that Rav Elazar repeated his words three times, the snake refused to move further.
The snake did not, in fact, leave until Rav Elazar called upon it to attack an evil gentile in a nearby village. Rabbi Elazar explained to his baffled friends that the snake was sent on a mission to bite and kill someone, and he would not leave until he was given an alternative victim.
Rabbi Eliyahu continued to explain that like Rabbi Elazar, who only understood on his third attempt, so, too, Esther Hamalka only grasped belatedly that the decree against the Jews would only be rescinded when she again appealed to Ahashverosh for permission to annihilate the Jew-haters who wished her people harm.
As long as they are here there is no hope for peace and security
The time has come for us to finally understand that there is no vacuum in the world. Israel belongs either to the Jews or to the Arabs. We will not inherit the land until we disinherit our enemies.
We can now understand the words of Rabbi Levi who summarized the holiday of Purim with the verse that tells us that we must disinherit the inhabitants.
This explanation can help us answer some additional questions related to the holiday of Purim. Why is Purim called Purim in plural and not Pur in singular if the holiday is in commemoration of the lots drawn by Haman? And how was the bloodthirsty Jew-hating Haman able to restrain himself for 11 months – to wait until Adar to massacre the Jews? And why was he complacent regarding the proposed date of the deed? Was he not aware that Adar is a lucky month for Jews?
After Rabbi Eliyahu’s explanation we can now answer all of the above. Indeed there is no salvation for the Jew from the jaws of his enemies until there is a reverse decree and a concurrent effort by the Jew to destroy those enemies.
Put bluntly, there are two lots for the Jew, and he has the freedom to choose – between life and death, mitzvah and sin, because good and evil cannot coexist forever. Ultimately there will be no place left to run. A choice must be made. Loving good without hating evil is a contradiction that cannot persist!
The month of Adar could be a horrible month for Jews or a wonderful month. And this is why the holiday is called Purim in the plural, because both lots are available for the month of Adar. By doing Teshuva and initiating a reversal of the decree on their enemies, the Jews emerged victorious. Haman was actually correct in his calculations of Adar as the graveyard month for the Jews. However, he did not consider the possibility of teshuva, the factor that reversed the decree and led to his undoing.
Thin line between righteous and evil
From here we learn one of the great secrets of Judaism – the balance between good and evil, between sweet and bitter, is more delicate than we realize. A mere hair separates a a bitter defeat from a resoundingly sweet victory. How true this is with all of our personal conflicts. On the one hand, yes, we can do Teshuva and draw strength away from the evil inclination, overcoming great obstacles on our way to personal betterment. On the other, how easy and quick it is to slip and fall from the path of righteousness. Perhaps this explains how Yehoash is referred to in Kings II as a righteous man and in Chronicles as an evil murderer. The same man, the same Bible, two opposite classifications.
In Hebrew similar roots to opposite concepts and anthonyms
Rabbi Meir Kahane OB”M explains the phenomenon of Hebrew words with distinctly opposite meanings that share the same or similar roots.
The Holy language is like no other language. The world was created through Hebrew and is not like other languages that were created by people. Hebrew was created by G-d and planned out by the Holy of Holies. In every word there are secrets and hints, each connected to each other, with lessons and morals to be learned. Sometimes, too, opposite words come from the same root to teach us that man has free will to choose between good and evil, both of which emanate from the same source. (See Or Haraayon page 17 and Sefer Hamakabee on Shemot, page 156.)
We can now understand the equation made by the rabbis comparing Purim to Yom Kippur, as well as the two goats – one for Hashem and one for Azazel – that are offered on Yom Kippur. There are many other examples from the Bible where two apparently opposite forces appear the same or emanate from a common root.
Temple Mount and Amalek – prime examples
We’ve all witnessed the unprecedented impurity and incitement against Israel that emanates from the Temple Mount, from the Mosques that replaced the Holy Temple on Judaism’s holiest site. It’s difficult to conceive that today in a sovereign State of Israel, the world’s holiest site is occupied by the most extreme forces of impurity and corruption and hatred of the Jew and his G-d.
Similarly, our Rabbis learn that the verse about Amalek that refers to G-d’s throne with a missing letter, shows us that as long as Amalek is alive in this world, G-d’s throne will not be whole.
Rabbi Kahane summarizes this idea in Or HaRaayon, page 53, explaining the halachic obligation to drink on Purim until we can no longer distinguish between blessing Mordecai and cursing Haman. The Rav explains there that the essence of this halacha is not, G-d forbid, to reach a level of drunkenness where one can not distinguish between Haman and Mordecai, but rather to drink until we understand that there is no difference between blessing Mordecai or cursing Haman – both are the same mitzvah – to praise the righteous and curse the evil. In fact, one cannot fulfill the mitzvah of loving good unless he truly hates evil.
If you appreciated this dvar Torah and wish to help us print and distribute our news and Torah commentary in the spirit of the Jewish Idea, please sponsor additional publishing. We could use your help to spread our vital message to save Israel. Donate via paypal-
or send a generous contribution to Mishal Yisrael POBox 6592 Jerusalem Israel – Purim Sameach!
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