Purim 5777: Laying Groundwork for Redemptive Action — Then and Now

Shalom Friends;

Our Purim vort is being co-sponsored by Shlomo and Shoshana Weis of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for a refuah shleima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel and by an anonymous co-sponsor dedicated for kol Klal Yisrael. To the Weis family and our anonymous co-sponsor, many thanks for your co-sponsorships and for your continued kindnesses.

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Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Purim 5777: Laying Groundwork for Redemptive Action — Then and Now

by Moshe Burt


This Purim vort is written some four weeks before Purim, and as our Prime Minister embarks on talks with President Trump, pertinent members of the new president’s cabinet and with members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Very much in this author’s mind is the axiom: an American President, members of both houses of Congress, a U.S. Ambassador to Israel, the chief U.S. negotiator in any future “peace” negotiations — in both 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.

And so, bearing this axiom in mind against the backdrop of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit and meetings with the administration, what we might see in the aftermath of these talks could run the gamut from Presidential countenance regarding Am Yisrael’s bread-and-butter issues such as moving the embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli annexation of all or a large portion of Yehuda and the Shomron and increased construction of homes and new towns; to placing the Embassy move on the backburner, to limitations regarding annexation or either home construction or establishing new towns or both; as well as other options, but not limited to five plans currently on the table in Israel as spelled out in a recent Yishai Fleisher Op-Ed piece in the New York Times. Also, apparently on the Agenda are subjects such Iran and possible sanctions against Iran due to their missile tests in violation of the agreement banning Iranian nuclear weapons and missile development. In addition, Israel National News reported this week that Prime Minister Netanyahu may ask President Trump to waive Jonathan Pollard’s parole conditions and allow him to immigrate to Israel.

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, Kushner, 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? As such, we must do as a proud, sovereign Jewish nation must do for our collective security and well-being, and believe and trust that Hashem Sees and Acts for His nation. Isn’t that the lesson of the Six Day War, of Entebbe? Isn’t that the lesson learned both from Chanukah and Purim?

In a recent piece on the Israel National News site, it was reported that Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s brother-in-law, said the following of Netanyahu’s meetings with President Trump:

“Bibi, this is the moment for which you became Prime Minister. Until now, you worked on holding off the tide. Now is the moment of truth – make a break for it and normalize the lives of half a million Jews in Judea and Samaria.

“….This is a basic demand, and if, G-d forbid, you fail this test, then as Moredehai said to Queen Esther, ‘Salvation will come to the Jews from a different place.’

What Dr. Ben-Artzi seems to mean by “normalize” is to bring the 400,000 who live on Jewish land in Yehuda and the Shomron to live under Israeli civil law, rather than under military law by annexing Yehuda and the Shomron as part of Israel and no longer defining them as “beyond the greenline” and somehow “illegal” under Israeli law.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had previously spoken out, after the Presidential election, on the American Sunday news program “60 Minutes” that he hoped President Trump would “help reach a two-state solution.”

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 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 Mordechai 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 assasination, 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 protocal 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.

So, to repeat Dr. Ben-Artzi’s call:

“Bibi, this is the moment for which you became Prime Minister. Until now, you worked on holding off the tide. Now is the moment of truth – make a break for it and normalize the lives of half a million Jews in Judea and Samaria.

“….This is a basic demand, and if, G-d forbid, you fail this test, then as Moredehai said to Queen Esther, ‘Salvation will come to the Jews from a different place.’

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 Sholom Rubashkin, as well as 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 two 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!!!

Purim Some’ach
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.

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