Parshas Trumah 5758 - '98

Outline Vol. 2, # 18

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

Chodshei Hashanah Part 10

The Personality of Adar and Purim

The month of Adar began this week. The fifth and sixth days of the week were Rosh Chodesh; Erev Shabbos was the first day of the month. Adar is a time of great mercy. The work M’archei Leiv (vol. 2, page 202-203) shows that the entire month is set aside for rejoicing and strengthening resolve (not only the days leading up to Purim). This is the time to build complete confidence, total faith and cheer (M’archei Leiv, vol. 2, page 200).

Rav Shaul Reuven (M’vakshei Torah, vol. 3, 5755) explained the ruling: "A man is required to drink wine on Purim until he cannot distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai.’ " This ruling seems exactly contrary to Torah principles!

Of all evil decrees against the Jews, none was more likely to cause the Jews to give up hope, than the order of Haman to annihilate them. The day of Purim is to help us feel that there is no reason whatsoever to give up hope, under any circumstance. Therefore, the Rabbis decreed a special festivity (even though this is not our normal way) involving wine, sending gifts, and freely contributing to the poor, as if we were wealthy and free from all obligations. Why? Because we have a great Father who will take care of all of our worries and concerns.

Now we understand the decree concerning wine. The nature of drinking wine is that it removes worry and fear. At Purim, a man should drink until he doesn’t feel a difference between the despotic ruler and the righteous ruler, because, in any case, Hashem will take charge.

The Torah says, "You are children of Hashem; do not make gashes in your flesh, or shave yourselves bald due to mourning for the dead." (Devorim [Deut.]14:1). The Seforno explained: Do not show an ultimate pain and suffering for the dead, for you still have a relative even more cherished and honored -- and there is still hope for good. You are children of Hashem, it is not right to be so extremely grieved as to gash your skin for the dead.

This is the reason that we have special songs ("zmiros") for Shabbos. After all our work is complete, we should show that we lack nothing. Someone constantly concerned about his property cannot sing and rejoice. For Shabbos, we bathe and shake ourselves of all weekday worries; we eat and rejoice as if everything was taken care of. Now that our heart rejoices in Hashem, we sing, in order to make known our joy and trust. We give praise to the One Who created Shabbos. (M’vakshei Torah, vol. 3, pp. 204-205)

Lo Sisgodedu

The same verse, "You are children of Hashem; do not make gashes in your flesh..." has another connection to Purim. The Hebrew, "Lo Sisgodedu," -- do not make gashes -- is interpreted, by way of homily, in a different way.

The Mishnah which begins tractate Megilah declares that there are numerous days for the possible observance of Purim. Under normal circumstances, only two are currently in practice today : the fourteenth and the fifteenth of the month of Adar.

The Talmud in tractate Yevamos questions: How is it permissible for some people to keep Purim on one day, and others, on a different day? The Torah states: "Lo Sisgodedu," which has been interpreted to mean -- do not make "agudos, agudos," differing and variant groups, each observing in its own diverse manner. The commentaries explain the prohibition: differing and variant groups with unique observances would make it appear as if there were differing and variant Torahs.

Several answers are offered in tractate Yevamos. Although some authorities derive from the conclusion there, that there is no difficulty in regard to Purim concerning "Lo Sisgodedu" -- not to make differing and variant groups -- not all agree. See Mikra’ei Kodesh (Purim 115-122), where it is established that it is incorrect to have separate Megilah readings, on different days, for the inhabitants of the same community.

The implications of this topic will take several issues to discuss. Of course, Judaism has many, many diverse applications and customs. There are Chasidim and Misnagdim, Ashkenazim and Sefardim, Jews from the Orient and Africa, and many more. Each have their own customs and habits, each their own Batei Dinim (religious courts) and each should be respected in its own right...

In fact, the same talmudic discussion involves itself with the famous debates of Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai, two diverse courts. This topic is central to the concept of the fusion of diverse elements, and ongoing legal processes, within the One Nation, Yisrael.

To be continued...

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Kollel of Kiryas Radin
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156
E-mail: [email protected]

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.

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