Friday, February 26, 2010

Dvar Torah on Purim based on a shiur from Rav Wolfson zt"l

This year instead of writng my own dvar torah for Purim, I decided to reproduce I shiur that I heard from Rav Wolfson t"l in 5764.  L'iluyei nishmaso here is the shiur.

I tried attaching the pdf file I sent out but it is too complictaed. If you want the pdf version (which is really the same thing here but I just used hebrew instead of english for some of the words) you can email me at

The gemara in Megilah 11b: explains that the reason Achashveirosh made a seudah was to celebrate the fact that Klal Yisroel had been in golus for 70 years and had still not been redeemed. Yirmiyahu had promised that the B’nei Yisroel would be in golus fro 70 years. Achashveirosh figured that the fact that the B’nei Yisroel were still in golus after 70 years must mean that HKBH had forgotten about them and they would no longer be redeemed. The gemara tells us that Achashveirosh miscalculated. We know that there were two stages of golus during the first Beis HamIkdahs. During the eigth year of Nevuchadnetzar’s reign he took Melech Yehoyachin and parts of Klal Yisroel into golus. Then 11 years later in his 19th year he took Melech Tzidkiyahu into golus and destroyed the Beis HaMikdash. Achashveirosh started counting the 70 years from the time of the first golus, when Yhoyachin went into golus. However, the gemara says, he should have started counting from the time that Yerushalaym was destroyed which was when Tzidkiyahu went into golus. The question that we can ask is what was Achashveirosh’s hava amina? Why did he initially think that the 70 years should start from the first golus, the golus of Yehoyachin. Furthermore, where did he go wrong? Why did the counting of the golus start from golus Tzidkiyau and not from golus Yochonya.?

The gemara in Makkos (22b) says “how foolish are people who stand for a sefer torah but do not stand for the talmidei chachamim who learn the Torah. In the Torah it says someone who is chayav malkos gets 40 lashes, and the chachamim came along and said it means 39 lashes” From here we see that talmidei chachamim are to be considered more chashuv than a sefer Torah. However, the Parashas Derachim (Derech tzadikim Derush 24) asks that we find the opposite idea in a gemara in Kiddushin.The gemara in Kiddushin (31b) asks, “how do we know one must stand for a sefer torah”? The gemara answers we learn it from a kal v’chomer, if one must stand for those who learn the Torah, than kal ‘chomer one must stand for a sefer torah itself. It would seem that this gemara implies that a sefer torah is greater than a talmid chacham ,which is the opposite from what the gemara in Makko implies. The Parashas Derachim answers that it all depends on what type of talmid Chacham we are talking about. If it is a Talmid Chacham that just has the yediyos of the whole Torah, then the Torah is bigger than him. After all, since his whole kovod comes because of his yediyas HaTorah, so the Torah itself should be greater. However, if the talmid chacham, besides knowing the torah is also a morah hora’ah, i.e. he knows how to pasken and explain the Torah, then he is considered bigger than a sefer torah. A talmid chacham who can look at the Torah and explain 40 lashes really means 39 lashes, this type of talmid chacham is bigger than the Torah.

Based on the Parshas Derachim we can now understand why Achashveirosh thought that the golus should start from golus Yehoyachin. The Navi tells us that among those who went into golus with Yehoyachin were the “charash u’masgeir”. Who were the “charash u’masgeir “? Chazal tell us that these were the talmidei chachamim and members of Sanhedrin who were sent to Bavel during the first wave of golus. Achashveirosh understood the power of the talmidei chachamim . He realized, as we see from the gemara in Kiddushin, that when the chachamim have the ability to pasken and explain the Torah, that they are greater than the Torah itself. It is for this reason that Achashveirosh thought that the golus of the chachamim, the first golus, was more tragic than the second golus, even though the second golus culminated with the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. Therefore, it made sense to start the count of 70 years from the time the chachamim went into golus and not from when the Bayis was destroyed.

L’chorah, Achashveirosh’s cheshbon made sense. Why does the gemara say that he made the wrong calculation and he really should have started counting from the 2nd golus? What was his mistake? The answer is that at the end of Megillas Esther it says “Kimu V’Kiblu HaYehudim”. The gemara (Shabbos 88a) learns from here “Kimu mah sheh’kiblu kvar”-that B’nei Yisroel reaccepted the Torah that they had previously accepted at Har Sinai. In other words, there was another Kabbalas HaTorah during Yimei Purim. This teaches us that even in a time of golus, a time of hester panim it is still possible to have a kabbalas haTorah. The reason is that it is impossible for Torah to go into golus. Klal Yisroel can be in golus, but the Torah and by extension the Talmidei Chachamim who learn and teach the Torah, cannot be in golus. Wherever the chachamim are that is where the Torah is supposed to be. Based on this, it would then come out that the first golus of the talmidiei chachamim was not as bad as the 2nd golus because in essence the chachamim never went into golus. Therefore, the real golus only started from the golus of Tzidkiyahu and that’s when the seventy years should have been counted.

We can also add one more point. Yirmiyahu Hanavi in Eicha asks “Tivu B’Aretz Sh’areha”. The The Medrash Eichah explains that the gates of Yerushalayim were not destroyed because they showed kovod to the aron by opening their doors to allow the aron to come inside. Yirmiyahu was asking why is it that the gates of Yerushalayim were not destroyed because they showed kovod to the aron, while the talmidei chachamim who learn the Torah found in the aron were killed and sent into golus. The Parshas Derachim explains that the Medrash is referring to the Sanhedrin and takmidei chachamim who explain the Torah and pasken halacha. As we mentioned above, these talmidei chachamim are greater than the Torah and that is about whom Yirmiyahu was asking his question. The Parashas Derachim says that Yirmiyahu could not answer his question. However, perhaps we can answer based on what we said above. The golus took place before the zman of Purim of “kimu v’kiblu”. Therefore, the ma’aleh of chachamim who were mora hora’ah being greater than Torah did not exist. It was only after the zman of Purim did we have this ma’aleh.

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