At the beginning of chapter four of the Book of Esther, it is related
that Mordechai tore his garments and cried terribly. The Jews mourned deeply
throughout the city -- up to the gate of the king, but not beyond. (No one
may enter the gate of the king dressed in sackcloth and ashes.) Mordechai
knew all that had happened...
Rav Yehudah Ben Sasson argued that King Achashverosh did not know that
Haman's decree was meant for the Jews. Why did the Jews stage mourning before
the King's gate? They were trying to get the King's attention, so that he
could realize he had been duped into something he never should have gone
The Manos Halevi replied that Chazal (the Rabbis of the Talmud/Medrash)
did not explain so. Rather, Mordechai's cries had deeper meaning. The Medrash
asks, "Why did Mordechai cry? Was he a fool, that he did not know that G-d
hears the slightest whisper? Chana taught us that G-d hears whispers, as
it says (Shmuel 1:1:13), "Her lips moved, but her voice was not heard."
"Why did Mordechai cry? He cried: 'Yitzchak, my father -- what have you
done? Esav cried out before you (when he did not receive the blessings),
you heard, and blessed him ("by your sword you shall live"). Now we have
been handed over to die by the sword...' " (Yalkut Achashverosh 1148)
The Torah says, "When Esav heard the words of his father, he cried."
(Beraishis 27:34) If someone says that G-d forgets -- he will be forgotten!
Rather, Hashem is patient, and collects His due. Yaakov caused Esav to cry;
where was he forced to pay? In Shushan the Capital... (Beraishis Rabbah 67:4)
Rebbi Pinchus in the name of Rebbi Hoshea said:
"Yaakov tore his clothing." The sons caused their father to cut kriah
(the tearing of the garments -- the Jewish sign of mourning) -- the sons
themselves performed kriah before Yoseif. Yoseif caused the brothers to cut
kriah -- his descendant Yehoshua (Joshua) cut kriah. Binyamin caused the
brothers to cut kriah; where was he paid back? In the capital of Shushan,
as it states, "Mordechai (a descendant of Binyamin) tore his clothing and
put sackcloth on his loins..."
Said Rebbi Aivo: Yaakov took sackcloth, and his children will forever
be taking sackcloth... (Beraishis Rabbah 84:2)
The Manos Halevi expressed amazement at the lessons which can be derived
from these medrashim.
1. How much a person must flee from causing pain to another! The brother's
poor choice (in turning against their brother) and Yoseif's action (in teaching
them a lesson) had repercussions. The hardest to fathom is the story of Binyamin;
he didn't do anything (but was accused falsely by Yoseif's men). Yet, because
he was pivotal in causing pain to the brothers, would be paid back.
2. Even a wicked person, at the time of his mitzvah, is considered righteous;
therefore Yaakov was considered guilty for causing Esav to cry when Esav
was listening to his father...
3. The most amazing: Mordechai was not crying out of pain; it is a sign
of faith to cry quietly. He was crying for deeper reasons, as the verse clearly
states: "Mordechai knew all that had happened..."
Chodshei Hashanah (Part Sixteen)
The Rabbis decreed that three mitzvos not be performed on Shabbos: Shofar
(Rosh Hashanah), Lulav (Sukkos), and the reading of the Megilah at Purim.
The concern was that someone might carry the object four cubits in a public
domain. Many people are familiar with the basic idea, but there are numerous
questions and difficulties with this subject.
One of the standard questions concerns the limitation of the decree to
these four mitzvos. Why did the Rabbis not forbid the reading of the Torah
Scroll on Shabbos, or using the Mohel's knife to perform Milah (circumcision)
The Kli Chemdah has an interesting approach. The Talmud in Sukkah, discussing
the Rabbis' decree, adds several words. "Shabbos is definite; Yom Tov is
a doubt..." The early codifier, the Rif (Rav Yitzchak Alfasi), latched on
to this reason. The mitzvos of the Tom Tov are overruled by a distant possibility
of negating Shabbos, because the Shabbos is certain, while the Yom Tov is
Certainly we understand why the decree does not apply to reading from
the Torah Scroll, or the knife of the Bris. When the Torah is read on Shabbos,
or a Bris occurs on Shabbos, there is no conflict of Yom Tov with Shabbos.
There are no doubts about the Shabbos; therefore, we do no worry about a
distant possibility that someone might forget and carry the Torah Scroll
or circumcision knife.
As we have discussed from Rebbenu Bachaye and Maharshal, there really
is no doubt concerning Yom Tov either. However, the Rabbis decreed that two
days of the holiday be kept -- as if it were still considered a doubt (Tosfos,
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