by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
Purim, the holiday which occurs on the 14th day of the month of Adar (for
most people), falls out on the 5th day of March this year. As we will
discuss in later posts, there are many observances unique to Purim. One of
these is the reading of Megillas Esther, the book in Scriptures which tells
of the story of Purim. In order to get a good understanding of what the
holiday of Purim is all about, the next few posts will deal with the Megilla
of Esther. The explanation of the Megilla that will be seen here comes
primarily from the commentary of the great commentator, Rav Eliyahu from
Vilna (a.k.a. the Vilna Ga'on).
The Vilna Ga'on, at the beginning of his commentary on the Megilla, offers a
parable to illustrate how we are to view the story about to be told.
There was a king who had only one child, a son who he treasured more than
anything imaginable. The love that the king showed to this child was so great
that officers of the king, who devoted their life to the king's service,
began to feel jealous of the attention and affection that the young boy
received from the king. While the young boy grew older, he did not always
treat his father in a reciprocal fashion. Finally, the boy did something that
angered his father so greatly that the king had no choice but to banish him
from the castle and forced him to wander in a forest. The son, while in the
forest, was sure that his father had forgotten him. In reality, just the
opposite was true. The king realized that his son would be faced with
countless dangers in the forest, and he wanted to assure that no harm would
befall his son. He therefore appointed a select group of servants who were to
keep a watchful eye on his son, albeit from a distance. These servants were
under instructions to never reveal that they were there on order of the king,
in order for the son to reflect on what he had done and his current
situation, and possibly repent.
One day, while the son was walking through the forest, he heard sounds, a
grumbling from behind him. He turned to see a large bear that appeared poised
for an attack. He started to flee from the bear. While running, he heard a
commotion behind him. He saw some of his father's officers trying to hunt
down the bear. They were successful in killing the bear and the son was
saved. The son never got the opportunity to ask the servants what they were
doing in the forest, and he assumed that their presence at the time he most
needed help was mere coincidence. Not long after this incident, those
officers who were jealous of the son got together and decided that now was
the opportune time to rid themselves of the person who they despised - the
son. A group of these officers went into the forest, looking for the son.
They soon found him, and started attacking him. The son tried fighting back,
but he was clearly outnumbered. However, moments after these officers started
their attack, another group of the king's servants arrived on the scene and
began fighting off the son's attackers. This group was victorious and again
the son's life was saved. Now, the son realized that there was no way that
the appearance of these officers was mere coincidence. To be saved by the
same group of people twice while wandering through a forest could not be a
stroke of luck. It had to be that his father was watching out for him, even
while he was banished to this exile. The son, after realizing this, felt
great remorse for his evil acts against his father, and felt a deep love for
him. He truly regretted his actions, and repented from his evil ways. When
his father heard about the change that came over his son, he happily welcomed
him back to the palace.
The story of Purim occurred during the period of time when the Jewish nation
was exiled after the destruction of the First Temple. Although G-d had to
punish us for our evil ways, He still loved us greatly and wanted to assure
that we would not be harmed. He therefore sent messengers to protect our
nation - Mordechai and Esther - and performed miracles through them. Since
G-d wanted the nation to repent, no "supernatural" miracles, which would have
"revealed" G-d's watchful eye, occurred. His protection of us had to be
undetectable to the undiscerning eye, so that we would think that He, in his
displeasure with us, had abandoned us. Therefore, the miracles that occurred
which led to our salvation occurred in a clandestine fashion. However, the
series of events that led to our being saved from the hands of the evil Haman
were too great and numerous to be relegated to the realm of coincidence.
They, as Mordechai and Esther knew all along, were clearly the workings of
Hashem. As we will see when we study the Megilla, the Jews eventually
realized that G-d, not Mordechai, Esther or King Achashverosh, was their true
savior, and therefore the nation of Israel repented and accepted G-d's words
and commandments with a complete heart.
When studying the Megilla, we have the benefit of hindsight to aid us in our
appreciation of G-d's workings. We will be able to appreciate how each piece
in the story of Purim fell into place, sometimes against all odds. If we keep
ourselves focused on the fact that there are no coincidences here, and that
the whole story is a series of "miracles," we will find that the Megilla is
much more than a good story - it is a source of inspiration for all times.
For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.
TAZRIA AND METZORAH:
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Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763
The Servants of G-d
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763
Only a Verbal Agreement?
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Nipping the Quip
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Kohen... Kohen... GONE!
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Shemiras Halashon and Pesach
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Uniqueness - What Makes Us Different?
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Negaim: Opening the Book
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Are We Better than a Gnat?
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Getting Beneath the Skin
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No Escaping G-d
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Those who Think They Know Better, are No Better
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Decision Making Process of the Kohein
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Doves and Relationships
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Changing the "Eye"
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Plants and Wheelchairs
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