Our Purim vort is being co-sponsored by Shlomo and Shoshana Weis lilui nishas Yisrael ben Chaim z”l and Malcha bat Me’ir Moshe z’l and by Rabbi Yechiel and Tova Nussbaum dedicated for the entire Kehillah of Beis Tefillah -Yona Avraham. Both families live in Ramat Beit Shemsh. To the Weis and Nussbaum families, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
As with last year, This Purim vort is written some four weeks before Purim, and with the background of President Trump’s announcement of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal Capital and his pledge to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, as well as his commutation of R’ Sholom Rubashkin’s prison term. And Vice President Pence echoed the President in his recent trip here in expressing that the Embassy would be in Jerusalem before the end of 2019.
Still very much in mind is the axiom: an American President, the Vice President, members of both houses of Congress, a U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the chief U.S. negotiator in any future “peace” negotiations, as well as the President’s daughter and son-in-law — in these latter cases Observant Jews; none of them, by their nature as Americans, as American representatives, are able to be more pro-Israel than the governance of Israel itself.
Further, with the current and continuing congressional/judicial/media upheaval and polarization of masses over the past year regarding alleged foreign manipulation or influence surrounding the 2016 Presidential Election, as well as alleged political and financial wrong-doing by one of the candidates affecting a party’s 2016 primaries and national convention and scandals dating back years and affecting national security, can and should Israel depend and count American support in determining issues regarding her spiritual and security well-being?
For Jews, the above axiom said another way: we cannot put our trust, faith in man, our sovereignty and survival in the hands of nations, not even in Trump, Pence, the Kushners, Friedman, etc., but ONLY in Hashem.
Haven’t we seen this lesson played out numerous times in Israel’s nearly 69 years of modern times? Need we re-recite all of the instances? Are our collective memories and attention spans sooo short?
This American upheaval could go either way, and one could suppose that however things turn out depends on our worthiness and Emunah in Hashem.
As such, we must do as a proud, sovereign, principled Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and as a paradigm for all of the Ways of Hashem, while believing and trusting that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation. Isn’t that the lesson of the Six Day War, of Entebbe, the taking out of that Iraqi nuclear reactor and more? Isn’t that the lesson learned both from Chanukah and Purim?
And so, insights are given from amongst the “127 Insights into Megillat Esther” (compiled from the words of Chazal by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach of Jerusalem) and from the sefer, “Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch regarding the saving of the Jews and their re-acceptance of Torah.
Mordechai gets word of Haman’s plot to eradicate the Jews. Esther is already positioned as Queen for nine years, after King Achashveirosh of Persia, in a drunken stupor, accepted and carried out the advice of the most crude and nobility-lacking of his counselors, Memuchan — later known as Haman — who called for queen Vashti’s execution. Mordechai summons Esther to entreat the king, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews.
It’s not the first time that Mordechai summoned Esther to use the power of her throne in defense of her people.
There was the assassination plot of two of the king’s servants, Bigsan and Seresh, both of whom hailed from Tarshish (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 142 citing R’ Shmuel di Uzidah, sefer Melo HaOmer).
The two spoke openly about their plot in their native tongue Tarsi (The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah,
The Book of Esther, Chapter 2, notes to posuk 22, page 63 citing gemura Megillat 13b), a seemingly obscure, insgnificant foreign tongue. Seated about 20 paces away from where Bigsan and Seresh hatched their plot and unbeknownst to them, Mordechai overheard their assassination plot. Mordechai, a former member of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish High Court) had to be fluent in all 70 of the world’s languages, which included Tarsi, to sit in as a member of that body. The story goes that Mordekhai got word to Esther who informed the King, giving full credit for disclosure of the plot to Mordechai (despite Mordechai’s wish that his name not be mentioned), taking no credit for herself. (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 147)
But, in the case of Haman’s plot and decree against the Jews, Esther is nervous. A bit of background here: according to laws enacted during the reign of Dar’yovesh (Darius) in the aftermath of Balshazzar’s assassination, and updated, with additional provisions and strictly enforced by Haman, she can’t just enter the king’s court without first having been summoned. Such a violation would be seen as “a major breach in security” (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Aggadas Esther; Menos HaLevi; Akeidah). In fact, Deutsch indicates (page 222 of “Let My People Live”) that Haman would screen all visitors to the king lest anyone reveal that he (Haman) “once sold himself to Mordechai” or lest anyone speak up for the Jews or advocate for rebuilding the Beit HaMikdash. Deutsch indicates that Esther queried:
“Do you think that he will let me set up an appointment? He hates me! Whenever he sees me, he remembers that if it hadn’t been for me, he might have had his daughter sitting on the throne.” (“Let My People Live”, by Yosef Deutsch, page 222 citing Targum; Rokeach; Targum Rishon; Menos HaLevi)
Esther fears being put to death, not out of fear for her own life, but out of fear of being put to death, and thus being unable to act to save her people.
Megillat Esther (Perek 4, posukim 5 – 16) tell of the dialogue of messages transmitted between Mordechai and Esther and of Esther’s hesitation to approach King Achashveirosh, unsummoned (a crime of protocol punishable by death) on behalf of her people.
In the climactic 13th and 14th posukim, Mordechai responds to Esther’s message:
“Do not imagine that you will be able to escape in the King’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews. For if you persist in keeping silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place…
And who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position.”
Esther’s nervousness and hesitation regarding Haman’s decree against the Jews seemed to this author to be puzzling in light of her apparent ease of access in informing Achashveirosh of the assassination plot (the “poison plot”)? Wouldn’t the Queen, as royalty, be exempted from laws denying access to the King?
The key seems to be that the “poison plot” occurred early in Esther’s reign as Queen, just prior to Haman’s rise to power as Viceroy and his resultant strict enforcement of laws regarding access to the King. Either the Queen may have previously been exempted from laws regarding access to the King, or the enforcement of the law initiated under Dar’yovesh may have been lax or non-existent or the King and his new Queen regularly spent evenings together providing Esther with the timely access necessary to expose the plot.
But it would seem that after the “poison plot”, with Haman’s almost immediate rise to power, things changed radically in the palace, including in access to the monarch. And on top of that, it seemed that Esther’s access to the King became more and more infrequent in the timeframe of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews. The Artscroll Tanach Series: The Megillah, The Book of Esther explains (notes to Perek 4, posuk 11, page 78) that, in expressing her concerns and hesitation, Esther tells Mordechai:
“It’s already been thirty days, that I was not summoned by the King….”
Despite Esther’s hesitation in entreating the King, in his court, regarding the threat to the Jews, the dye resulting from Esther’s humbly informing the King, in Mordechai’s name, of the “poison plot” had been cast. Rabbi Weinbach (“127 Insights into Megillat Esther”, page 88) writes:
Mordechai’s decision to report his discovery to Esther rather than directly to the king can… be understood as a means of laying the groundwork for Esther’s redemptive action.
Who knows if it is, was that the Kushners, Friedman, etc. — Observant Jews were Divinely placed in their positions of influence just for such a time? We can look back in recent history to the role of President Harry Truman’s lifelong Jewish friend, Edward Jacobson, in advocating U.S. support for the creation of the Jewish State of Israel.
But in our time, while we can observe the Yad Hashem (the Hand of Hashem) in history for the benefit of Am Yisrael, who among us has the wisdom to know if, or whether or not this or that individual, even from among Observant American Jews, are the ones Divinely positioned to play a central role in assuring the wellbeing of Israel?
To repeat, we, and our leaders, our governance must do as a proud, sovereign, principled Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and as a paradigm for all of the Ways of Hashem, while believing and trusting that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of three and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.