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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Purim Drasha


Purim Drasha


Today we gather together to celebrate the most joyous of all the Jewish holidays, the Yuntif of Purim. On this holiday we celebrate the near destruction of the Jewish People, and the exploitation of Esther's Hamalka's bisulta that enabled the salvation of Klal Yisroel, by getting stinking drunk and trying to be mezaneh with our chavrusa when he himself isn't busy throwing up all over the Bais Medrish.

Chazal have often contemplated the deeper meaning hidden within Megillas Esther, the text that details the story of Purim. Why, they ask, is the name of the Reboinoisheloilum not mentioned throughout the Megillah, while in contrast, Haman Harasha's name is mentioned so many times that people bang their heads against the wall?

According to the RASHBAM, the Aimishteh refused to have his name attached to the story since he was repelled by the Machiavellian activities of Klal Yisroel throughout the entire episode. Such actions include:

-- Mordechai saves the life of the king and doesn't even collect a cash reward (What's pshat with that?)

-- Esther curries the favor of the king by taking hold of his extended staff

-- Esther hosts a dinner for Achashveiroish and Haman, serving bottled water without a proper Hashgacha

-- Once victory is achieved, Klal Yisroel doesn't stop until they have murdered Haman's allies, hanged his sons, and raped his horses.

Says the RASHBAM, Hakkadoshboruchhu didn't want to be associated with any of those activities as He was still trying to live down the bad press from the whole Ten Plagues thing.

The RITVA disagrees, however, noting that the RASHBAM dropped too much Bsomim when he was in college and was prone to flashbacks while in the Bais Medrish. The RITVA suggests that the reason the Reboinoisheloilum is not mentioned in Megillas Esther is simply because the Megillah is not based on a historical, Jewish story. Noting the similarity of the names of Mordechai and Esther to the Persian deity names of Marduk and Ishtar, the RITVA proposes that Purim was actually adapted from a pagan Persian festival where Persians would traditionally exchange gifts of food, wear silly three-cornered hats, and drink heavily and then kill their wives and replace them with younger women.

But the Toldois Aharoin disagrees with both the RASHBAM and the RITVA. The Toldois Aharoin offers that the Melech Malchei HaMelachim didn't want his name included since He was completely upset by the fact that no one could ever get His name right. He cites a beautiful discussion from the Zoihar: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yoichai, sitting around a campfire with his followers, tells them that one must try to know the Ain Sof, the unknowable aspect of the Omnipresent, by giving it a name. "What would YOU call the Ain Sof?" he asks each of his followers,

One follower responds "Rebbe, I would call Him 'Fred' because that is a name I can relate to, since I once had a dog named Fred, and a dog is man's best friend.". Another follower says, "I will call Him 'Phil', because the Jewish People have a Bris with the Ain Sof, and that is what I nicknamed my Bris Milah when I was sixteen years old." And so they went around the circle.

When the last of the followers had spoken, Rebbe Shimon addressed them. "You idiots," he said, "you cannot give the Ain Sof a proper name! He is unknowable. I can’t believe I spend 13 years in a freaking cave just to teach schmucks like you!" When Rabbi Shimon calmed down, he told them that the Ain Sof should be called the Aibishter, meaning in Yiddish "The One On High" since, according to Rabbi Shimon, "as He is unknowable, one would have to be high to think you can know him”.

As the Rebbe's talmidim nodded in agreement, Rabbi Akiva joined the group. Upon hearing the topic, he began to berate Rabbi Shimon."You would call the Ain Sof 'Aibishter'?" Rabbi Akiva asked. "Everyone knows that He should be called 'Aimishteh', which means in Aramaic 'Where is He when you really need Him?"

Says the Toldois Aharoin, as Hakadoshboruchhu was annoyed with the whole discussion, so he decided to adopt a low profile in the Megillah.

I, the RAPAS, would like to offer a new answer to this question. The Rebboinoisheloilum's name is obscured from the Megillah so that Klal Yisroel would know that sometimes we have to solve our own problems. We cannot rely on a deus ex machina, an external solution, heavenly or otherwise, to resolve the most challenging issues of our day. We must use our own intelligence and creativity to devise and implement our best alternatives.

Take for example the issue of peace between Klal Yisroel and the Arab world. Some would say that we should give up all of the West Bank in exchange for peace. Others would say that we should not give up one inch. I would like to humbly suggest that in exchange for real peace, we should be prepared to make sacrifices, even painful ones. However, it should be clear to all sides that not everyone will get what they want. But in the spirit of compromise, I am certain that we can reach a creative understanding. Consequently, while I am not certain what we should do with the West Bank, in exchange for real peace we should give Brooklyn to the Palestinians. And if calm prevails there, we can talk later about giving back other territories including the Five Towns, Teaneck, and Miami Beach.

Ah Freilechin Yuntif, You Minuval

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And all this time I thought you called Him the Amishteh because you went to yeshivah in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Ichabod Chrain