Friday, March 10, 2006

DVAR TORAH: Tetzaveh/Shabbat Zachor 1 of 5!

This is the first in a series of 5 (actually 3) Divrei Torah I have given in the past for Parashat Tetzaveh AND/OR Shabbat Zachor. This particular Dvar Torah I gave on Shabbat Tetzaveh/Zachor in 2004 in front of the KOACH Community

אמר רבא: מיחייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי. רבה ורבי זירא עבדו סעודת פורים בהדי הדדי, איבסום, קם רבה שחטיה לרבי זירא. למחר בעי רחמי ואחייה. לשנה אמר ליה: ניתי מר ונעביד סעודת פורים בהדי הדדיִ ־ אמר ליה: לא בכל שעתא ושעתא מתרחיש ניסא.

In Megillah 7b, Rava says: Mechayav Inish Libsumei B’Purya Ad D’lo Yada Bein Arur Haman L’Varuch Mordechai. People are obligated on Purim to sweeten themselves with drink until they cannot differentiate “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai”. I am a gematria, Hebrew numerology, buff and I figured out that the gematria for Arur Haman, Alef Reish Vav Reish Hey Mem Num is 502. Baruch Mordechai, Bet Reish Vav Chaf Mem Reish Dalet Chaf Yud is also 502. 502 equals 502, it is an identity. Therefore Arur Haman equals Baruch Mordechai. Thus it is impossible for one to ever be able to differentiate the bad guy and the good guy. This seems strange but has an inherent logic to it. The ability of humanity to differentiate between Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman, between Good and Evil has existed since Adam and Chava ate of the Tree of Knowledge in Gan Eden. To drink until you cannot comprehend or agree with the fact that 502 equals 502, which is an identity just like 1 is equal to 1, and then you have gone too far. 502 must equal 502.

Is Rava right in making this statement? There is a disturbing episode which immediately follows this Talmudic saying in which Raba (ED: not to be confused with Rava, which I did when I originally wrote this Dvar Torah) gets so drunk on Purim that he slits the throat of Rabbi Zeira so that Zeira dies. Raba then prays for God to resurrect him and Zeira comes back to life. The next year, Raba invites Zeira over for Purim and Zeira declines saying that miracles might not always happen and next time he might not be so lucky. Miracles are often wrought when needed, but it is important to not reject reason and put things totally into God’s hands. With the Tree of Knowledge we received the ability to have our own free will to create whatever destiny we were fated with minimal intervention from the Almighty. Recall that the only person to never have the knowledge of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was Cain, as he was born before the episode of the Tree of Knowledge. He kills his brother Abel because he does not know about death or pain or good or evil. Because of eating from the Etz HaDaat we were expelled from Eden and have to fend for ourselves. As the great Rabbi Akiva says in Pirkei Avot 3:15, though for some reason Sim Shalom gives it as 3:19 (pg 626) ' הַכֹּל צָפוּי, וְהָרְשׁוּת נְתוּנָה,. "Everything is forseen by God, but free will is given". Since the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash and the dissolution of the position of High Priest, God has kind of been on the silent and hidden side.

Such as in the story of Purim. The name Esther, revocalized is Ah-sa-ter, “I Will Hide”. Megilat Esther is the single book of the Bible in which there is no direct mention of God. Make what conclusions you will about hidden acronyms, Mordechai and Esther and the Jews of Shushan and the 127 Satrapies had to fend for themselves. Maybe all of that fasting made God save them, but they took a lot into their own hands.

Finally, there is an interesting correlation that makes this weeks Parashah especially appropriate. Notably absent from even a single mention in the Parsha is Moshe, who is being commanded but is a silent partner. The reason for this, according to Midrash, is because Moses wanted to be Blotted out of God’s book, and l’havdil, on the special maftir for this Shabbos, Shabbat Zachor, we also are commanded to blot out the name of Amalek from remembrance. Amalek, by the way, did not differentiate between good and evil and thought that the evil act of killing women, children, the elderly, the weak, and the stragglers, was good. So continue to fight the good fight and also be safe on Purim, and if you are drinking, please, PLEASE, stay away from sharp objects that can puncture the jugular. A Gut Shabbos Unt A Freylech Purim!

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