Parshas Trumah 5758 - '98
Outline Vol. 2, # 18
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Chodshei Hashanah Part 10
The Personality of Adar and Purim
The month of Adar began this week. The fifth and sixth days of the week
were Rosh Chodesh; Erev Shabbos was the first day of the month. Adar is
a time of great mercy. The work M’archei Leiv (vol. 2, page 202-203)
shows that the entire month is set aside for rejoicing and strengthening
resolve (not only the days leading up to Purim). This is the time to build
complete confidence, total faith and cheer (M’archei Leiv, vol.
2, page 200).
Rav Shaul Reuven (M’vakshei Torah, vol. 3, 5755) explained the
ruling: "A man is required to drink wine on Purim until he cannot
distinguish between ‘cursed is Haman’ and ‘blessed is Mordechai.’ "
This ruling seems exactly contrary to Torah principles!
Of all evil decrees against the Jews, none was more likely to cause
the Jews to give up hope, than the order of Haman to annihilate them. The
day of Purim is to help us feel that there is no reason whatsoever to give
up hope, under any circumstance. Therefore, the Rabbis decreed a special
festivity (even though this is not our normal way) involving wine, sending
gifts, and freely contributing to the poor, as if we were wealthy and free
from all obligations. Why? Because we have a great Father who will take
care of all of our worries and concerns.
Now we understand the decree concerning wine. The nature of drinking
wine is that it removes worry and fear. At Purim, a man should drink until
he doesn’t feel a difference between the despotic ruler and the righteous
ruler, because, in any case, Hashem will take charge.
The Torah says, "You are children of Hashem; do not make gashes
in your flesh, or shave yourselves bald due to mourning for the dead."
(Devorim [Deut.]14:1). The Seforno explained: Do not show an ultimate pain
and suffering for the dead, for you still have a relative even more cherished
and honored -- and there is still hope for good. You are children of Hashem,
it is not right to be so extremely grieved as to gash your skin for the
This is the reason that we have special songs ("zmiros") for
Shabbos. After all our work is complete, we should show that we lack nothing.
Someone constantly concerned about his property cannot sing and rejoice.
For Shabbos, we bathe and shake ourselves of all weekday worries; we eat
and rejoice as if everything was taken care of. Now that our heart rejoices
in Hashem, we sing, in order to make known our joy and trust. We give praise
to the One Who created Shabbos. (M’vakshei Torah, vol. 3, pp. 204-205)
The same verse, "You are children of Hashem; do not make gashes
in your flesh..." has another connection to Purim. The Hebrew, "Lo
Sisgodedu," -- do not make gashes -- is interpreted, by way of homily,
in a different way.
The Mishnah which begins tractate Megilah declares that there are numerous
days for the possible observance of Purim. Under normal circumstances,
only two are currently in practice today : the fourteenth and the fifteenth
of the month of Adar.
The Talmud in tractate Yevamos questions: How is it permissible for
some people to keep Purim on one day, and others, on a different day? The
Torah states: "Lo Sisgodedu," which has been interpreted to mean
-- do not make "agudos, agudos," differing and variant groups,
each observing in its own diverse manner. The commentaries explain the
prohibition: differing and variant groups with unique observances would
make it appear as if there were differing and variant Torahs.
Several answers are offered in tractate Yevamos. Although some authorities
derive from the conclusion there, that there is no difficulty in regard
to Purim concerning "Lo Sisgodedu" -- not to make differing and
variant groups -- not all agree. See Mikra’ei Kodesh (Purim 115-122),
where it is established that it is incorrect to have separate Megilah readings,
on different days, for the inhabitants of the same community.
The implications of this topic will take several issues to discuss.
Of course, Judaism has many, many diverse applications and customs. There
are Chasidim and Misnagdim, Ashkenazim and Sefardim, Jews from the Orient
and Africa, and many more. Each have their own customs and habits, each
their own Batei Dinim (religious courts) and each should be respected in
its own right...
In fact, the same talmudic discussion involves itself with the famous
debates of Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai, two diverse courts. This topic
is central to the concept of the fusion of diverse elements, and ongoing
legal processes, within the One Nation, Yisrael.
To be continued...