Friday, March 06, 2009

Purim:Our Role As An Am HaNivchar

As I was looking to see what I wrote about Purim last year, I realized I never posted it. So here is parts of my Purim dvar torah from last year Purim 5768/2008.

The Cheit of B’nei Yisroel
The gemara in Megilah 12B quotes in interesting conversation between Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his talmidim.

The students of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai asked him, "why were the B’nei Yisroel sentenced for destruction". Rav Shimon Bar Yochai replied, "You tell me". His students answered "Because they derived pleasure from the feast of Achashveirosh. Rav Shimon Bar Yochai answered them back, ‘if that is truue then only the Jewso f Shushan should have been destroyed. Rather the decree was made because they bowed down to the idol during the time of Nevuchadnetzer’. His students then asked, "so why were the B’nei Yisroel saved?". He answered them, since they only served the idol out of fear and didn’t mean it, so too Hashem didn’t mean that the gezeirah should be permanent".

The Menos Levi in his peirush on the megilah asks what exactly was bothering the talmidim. He answers that the talmidim were aware that the Jews had sinned by bowing down to the idol of Nevuchadnetzar, however, they also noticed that they were not punished for it.
Therefore, they couldn’t understand why when it came to the seudah of Achashveirosh, they were punished.
Rav Shimon Bar Yochai’s answer to them is that really the gezeirah of Haman was due to the aveirah of bowing down to the
idol of Nevuchadnetzar, however Hashem had rachmanus and didn’t punish them right away. It was only after the aveirah of eating from the seudah, did Hashem decide to punish the Jews.

The question still remains, what exactly was the connection between these two aveiros?. Why was it specifically the sin of the seudah that caused Hashem to revisit and punish the Jews for bowing down to the idol.

The Connection Between Avodah Zara and the Seudah
The Rambam writes that even though originally people viewed the sun and stars as messengers of Hashem, eventually they removed Hashem from the picture and they served the sun and stars directly. We see from the Rambam that avoda zara comes about when people break their connection with Hashem. When the world no longer sees Hashem as running the
world and being involved in their day to day life then the next step is to serve idols. Avoda zara is all about taking Hashem out of the equation and eventually denying His very existance.

The gemara says that the main reason that Achashveirosh made a party was to celebrate the fact that 70 years of golus had passed and the Beis HaMikdash had still not been rebuilt and that the geulah would not becoming. It is interesting to note that the gemara doesn’t say that the gezeirah came about because they ate at the party, rather it says they were punished for deriving benefit from the meal. Hahsem was upset that nop only did they attend the meal, but they also enjoyed their meal. They joined with Achashveirosh in celebrating the fact that they were no longer Hashem’s chosen people. If Achashveirosh was correect in assuming that the geulah wasn’t coming, then that meant Hashem had turned his back on the Jews and had cut off his connection with them. By attending the party, the Jews were admitting that they were equal to all the other nations and more importantly that they no longer had a unique
relationship with Hahsem.

We can now understand the connection between eating at the seudah and bowing down to the idol of Nevuchadnetzar. Both aveiros come from the same idea-breaking the connection with Hashem and removing him from the picture. For the nations of the
world, avoda zara breaks that connection on a global level. They refuse to recognize that the whole world is controlled by HKBH.However, for the Bnei Yisroel, this mindset is more devasting and personal. The Bnei Yisroel were not just denying that Hashem is the creator of the world, but they were also denying their status as the Am Hanivchar, the chosen people. If Hashem could just leave us in golus and totally abandon us, then that must mean he has severed His connection with us and we are no longer His children.
Because the root of these two aveiros were the same , that is why we were retroactively punished for bowing down to the idol only after we ate from the seudah.

Tikun HaCheit Thru Mordechai

It stands to reason that if the cheit was breaking the connection with HKBH, then the way to do teshuva was through reestablishing that connection. The person who led the Jews in doing teshuva was Mordechai. The Sefas Emes explains that in every generation there is one tzaddik who protects klal Yisroel and helps them do teshuva. Furtehrmore, even if
the generation does not do teshuva, there will always be one tzaddik who will be able to misakein the sins of everyone else. During this time period , this tzaddik was Mordechai. The Medrash compares Mordechai to Avraham. Just like Avraham re-introduced HKBH back into the world, so too Mordechai reconnected the B'nei Yisroel with Hashem.

(More later).

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