Please keep Eliezer Ben Gamila, Chana bat Pesel, and Boaz Chiam ben Vered in your prayers.
Baruch Mordechai is in one sense emunat Chachamim faith in our Sages throughout the generations all the way down to our Chachmei hador; the current Talmedai Chachamim, Torah leaders in every generation. Emunat Chachamim is a source of beracha – expansion, growth; the source of all good. When we make a beracha we are recognizing the source of all good as coming from Hashem. The premier source of beracha for any Talmid Chacham is the Torah. Torah isn’t a commodity; learn a Mishna and your rent is paid. Torah is a constant struggle. It requires a commitment. If we put in ten minutes or an hour every day we can’t just put that on hold on a vacation. Hashem’s Torah is an integral part of our lives, and a source of beracha. Mordechai sat on the Sanhedrin. This required skill levels found in the greatest of any generation. He was literally one out of thousands of the Talmidei Chachamim in his time; a true Gadol Hador, and a source of beracha for his generation.
Haman was descended from Amaleik, the classic Jew haters. At the height of our early existence as a Nation it was Amaleik that attacked when no one else dared. Amaleik didn’t just harbor antisemitism, or bad feelings towards us. They understood that our goal was spiritual greatness, to bring the D’var Hashem – word of God into the world, and to live lives of exemplar purity. This ran totally against the character of Amaleik. Spiritual integrity, modesty, family values and ideals including the exclusive commitment between husband and wife, not to mention Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, and the Yamim Tovim, all of this infuriated Amaleik. Spiritual purity was out of the question. Our world of today with gender indifference, open relationships or even no commitment or exclusivity in partners, a world where liberalism and borderless society is the new religion – this is the world of Amaleik. Purity is the antithesis of the realm of Amaleik. Nudity, profanity, and even death can be broadcast openly to the world – this is true Amaleik culture.
Amaleik, from who Haman is descended, attacked Bnei Yisrael first under the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu. Every other trouble Moshe was able to overcome as our leader, yet Amaleik could not be defeated. The nature of the fight is beyond the realm of a single battle. Good versus evil is part of the makeup of the world. If for no other reason, so that our free will can be maintained. There have been times when evil is weakened and forced underground, yet there is always a contentious battle that provides the backdrop for choice in society. Moshe could not defeat Amaleik, yet did manage to weaken them, and push away the battle of good and evil from Bnei Yisrael until Shaul became a Melech. Haman made a Pur – a lottery to see what his chances were to defeat Bnei Yisrael. The date fell on the month and day of the loss of Moshe Rabbeinu. An omen for Haman that just as his ancestors’ were not defeated by Moshe, so too Haman felt he had a good chance to wipe out Bnei Yisrael.
Achashveirosh threw a party. Haman and Mordechai were both advisors to the king. Haman used the party to set a trap for the Jews by hoping to bring them to sin. Haman was more than willing to offer a fully kosher banquet with the best hashgacha, so as to ensnare the Jews. Remove any reasons why the Jews shouldn’t attend, so that it appears as political suicide if the Jews offend the king by not showing support by simply avoiding the party. Mordechai took to the streets to warn the Jews, but his plea fell on deaf ears. The Jews felt that all they had left was to play the political game. They were exiled with a prophecy that the exile would only last for 70 years, and surely the time had already passed. They felt like they were orphaned with no Father or Mother to hear their cry.
Ester has no mother or father, so Mordechai took her in to raise her. In all other periods a single redeemer was sufficient, yet in our story both Mordechai and Ester play central roles. Ester is forced to walk a tight rope between good and evil. She is a Jewish woman, yet is taken by the non-Jewish king as a wife. She must keep kashrut, Shabbat, and the Holidays, as well as listening to her Uncle Mordechai, the Gadol Hador. He warns her to not divulge her background as a Jew. She becomes the ultimate captive in a gilded cage. Ester is more than willing to lay her life on the line for the survival of her people, yet it’s just not that simple. The evil we were facing in Haman’s decree was our own doing. We had attended the party. We sealed our own decree with our sins. This was Haman’s plan all along; to facilitate the downfall of the Jews through Hashem signing our decree. Our destruction was planned for the very day on which we lost the protection of Moshe Rabbeinu. Mordechai was the only one left of the Jews that didn’t sin, so Haman set a trap to have him hanged. Haman felt that with Mordechai out of the way there was no chance the Jews were finding salvation.
Moredchai and Ester bring a change in the status quo. Sure there were Jewish advisers to many emperors. Daniel had been an advisor to Nebuchadnezzar, and Balshatsar. The Gedolim’s advise was sought on many levels, yet not with any immunity for the Jewish people. With Purim we find two Jews that could actually influence a king, and not just offer advice. Haman gave the original advice that took out the old queen, Vashti. Haman opened the door for Ester, which in turn brought Mordechai that much closer to the kingship. Haman could have tried to weasel his way into getting his decree to destroy the Jews without getting Vashti killed, which would have left us that much more exposed. The blessed Mordechai could have let the two kings guards carry out their plot to kill the king, which would have freed Ester. The cursed Haman provided the gallows and the rope needed for his own hanging. Every new turn in the Megila provides pros and cons for each of our main characters. Every time we delve deeper into the work we can find another way that the directions could, or did flip course.
Mordechai represents all that is pure and good – this is how we count our blessings. Haman represents a world gone mad, self-centered and overindulgent with every angle bent on impurity – this is a cursed society. Baruch Mordechai and arur Haman – From the motives and desires of the party all the way down to the hanging tree, the story and the players flip flop. Emunat Chachmim – the ultimate message in the Purim story is to see the Yad Hashem in everything. Even the evil Haman is used by the Yad Hashem to lift Mordechai and Emunat Chachamim in the eyes of the people. Only the Torah and the Yad Hashem directing our wellbeing are constant.
Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach