Despite the freezing temperatures on Motza’ei Shabbos, March 4, a large crowd gathered at Congregation Ahavas Yisroel to hear an inspiring shiur about Purim delivered by Rabbi Moshe Schwerd, well-known maggid shiur and speaker. He began by sharing that we all know that Taanis Esther and Purim are auspicious times for t’filah. Galus began with the sale of Yosef and ended with K’rias Yam Suf. G’ulas Mitzrayim is the template for the final g’ulah. The final g’ulah can come only when Amalek is gone. Amalek has to be gone at the End of Days as they are inconsistent with the idea of g’ulah.
Chazal teach us that g’ulah is tied to emunah. The only reason we were freed from Egypt was emunah, and emunah will take us out of our current galus. Why is emunah the thing that will take us out?
The month of Adar corresponds to the story of Yosef. Par’oh gave a ring to Yosef, and in the Purim story the king gave a ring to Mordechai. Par’oh dressed Yosef, and in the Purim story the king dressed Mordechai. Mordechai and Yosef were both second to the king. Both stories end with taxes. In both stories, Jews ascend to prominence in a non-Jewish palace. In both stories, a Jew saves the Jewish people, and both Yosef and Esther were taken against their will. Both involve hangings and both have two ministers. Both Yosef and Esther reveal their secret at a banquet. Both reflect hashgachah pratis.
On Purim, we recite about Purim that Haman was ensnared by his own stumbling block. The tree he prepared for Mordechai was used to hang Haman. Rabbi Schwerd posed the question of what sin brought the g’zeirah on Purim. Most m’farshim teach that it was because Jews participated in Achashveirosh’s feast celebrating that the Jews would not be redeemed.
The crime was that the Jews gave up on g’ulah. When you feel that way, you won’t be redeemed. Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l taught that Elimelech left during the famine, and his sons married Moabite women because they had given up on g’ulah. “Loss of faith in g’ulah is a capital crime.” Amalek stands against emunah. Amalek came to attack us when B’nei Yisrael said, “Is G-d among us?” The N’tziv explained their question. They saw so many miracles, so they had to believe that Hashem is watching us and guiding us even when we don’t see overt miracles. Their question was: If there is a natural order, will Hashem still guide us? That was their lack of emunah, which caused Amalek to attack. “Whenever there is any lack of emunah, Amalek attacks to drive a wedge between us and our emunah. Safeik (doubt) and “Amalek” both have the same gematria.
When Moshe was on top of the mountain and he lifted his hands up, we were victorious. When his hands were lowered, we were losing. The idea we learn here is that when we looked up and believed in Hashem, then we won. His hands were emunah. Moshe was trying to lift the level of emunah in klal Yisrael.
Amalek creates doubt in our emunah. They make Hashem more hidden and create illusions in this world of cause and effect and that nature is running the world. The Maharal explains that, in the post-g’ulah world, Amalek can’t exist because the perception of the world as random can’t be. They credit fantasies, so they can’t exist in the future when everything is real. They can’t connect to what is real and eternal.
Yosef’s philosophy was the opposite of Amalek’s. He told the brothers that everything happened because this was the way Hashem wanted it to happen. He kept repeating G-d’s name when he told them that Hashem sent me to slavery. I am here to save you. It is Hashem’s plan.
Mordechai tells Esther that salvation will come from Hashem, so it’s your choice if it will be through you.
When we do t’shuvah and daven, then we beat Amalek and the g’zeirah is lifted. In the Megillah scroll, each column starts with the word “HaMelech.” Chazal are teaching us that it was Hashem’s decree and that y’shuah is from Hashem. The four primary mitzvos on Purim are hearing the Megillah, a S’udas Purim, Matanos LaEvyonim, and Mishloach Manos. There is no isur m’lachah on Purim. It looks like a regular day, so you have to look below the surface. It’s all about hashgachah pratis. The lesson of the day is you shouldn’t be fooled by the outside.
Why is it called Purim, which means “lots”? “Pur” is singular. Also why is it named after the lottery of Haman and not the y’shuah? Rav Chaim Friedlander taught that Amalek used the lottery to show that life is random. We believe the lottery is hashgachah pratis, so Purim – lotteries – is plural to show the battle of the two philosophies. We believe that everything we suffer individually and collectively is ultimately the cause of our salvation. The s’udah that started in sin caused Vashti to be killed. Haman’s plan was to have a beauty contest and that backfired on him, because Esther became the queen. So, in this time of tzaros, Haman himself created the y’shuah. Everything Haman did brought the y’shuah.
The midrash in Mishlei teaches that their plans will facilitate the fruition of Hashem’s plan. Our enemies sow seeds for the y’shuah and their own downfall.
Rabbi Schwerd explained that the story of Yosef paved the way for the Purim story. The brothers didn’t want to bow to Yosef, so they sold him into slavery. The only way they could bow to him was through their plan. Ibn Ezra teaches that the same thing occurred with Par’oh. The only way Moshe could be the savior and be able to have an audience with Par’oh was by being raised in the palace. Par’oh’s plan, like Haman’s plan, paved the way to g’ulah.
The primary midah is emunah, and in the merit of emunah we were saved from Egypt, and we will merit the ultimate g’ulah.
He concluded that the more you believe in hashgachah, the more you will see Hashem’s guiding hand, and this is the way to escape personal troubles. You have to strengthen your emunah. You are not alone. Hashem is with you and Hashem will be your light. The more you connect to Him, Hashem saves you. “On Purim, we need to strengthen emunah and see the illusion of life. Every time we daven, we address the cause. Daven for the G’ulah.”
This beautiful shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber