1) Straight Reading
We know the famous gemara in Megillah, “Hakoreih hamegillah l’mafrei’ah lo yatzah”. If you read Megillas Esther backwards you have not fulfilled your obligation. There are many p’shatim on this. The simple explanation is that if you read the megillah, you have to read it in order. You can’t read, “Bimei Achashveirosh vayihi”. Not only that, but other rishonim and achronim say that you shouldn’t read the perakim out of order because there’s a sequential story that’s going on here as well. Gra shares two p’shatim in two different places that are allegorical and enlightening.
In the Present
Gra explains that what is meant by a person who reads it backwards is that if someone incorrectly says, “those miracles only happened in the past. Okay. The Rebono Shel Olam did some fun stuff behind the scenes. He saved the Jews. But these things don’t happen nowadays!” Says the Gra: “lo yatza.” You missed the whole boat. Such a perspective missed the entire lesson of Megillas Esther.
Purim is about recognizing that Hashem did miracles then and continues to orchestrate the events of the world in the way that He sees fit. “L’hodiah she’kol kovecha”. Everyone that connects with Hashem and believes in Hashem, “lo yeivoshu v’lo yikalmu lanetzach kol hachosim bach”. You will never be forsaken if you turn to Hashem. That’s in the present, in the hoveh. Right now.
That’s the p’shat when you read the Megillah. The story happened then, but it’s a spark to help us see the hidden Hashem in our lives as well. Hashem’s name isn’t always written explicitly in our lives either. But, when we look at the events that happen we recognize that the Rebono Shel Olam was orchestrating everything, and working it out for whatever is best for our spiritual growth and our emotional growth and our physical well-being according to Hashem’s determination. That’s what’s going. We must read the story into the present and see Hashem’s Guiding Hand in our lives!
2) Connect the Dots
A second p’shat in “l’mafrei’ah” shared by Gra is that a person that misses the connections in the Megillah, doesn’t see Hashem. He just says: Well, you know, I’m looking at it, and I’m saying: Well this is really lucky, and Mordechai was there at the right time, and Esther got in at the right time, he’s reading it backwards! He doesn’t recognizing that there’s a Rebono Shel Olam who’s orchestrating everything, and you have to see that there’s a Rebono Shel Olam.
Hashem’s name is notably absent from the Megillah, but His Name, representing His Presence, is hinted to throughout the Megillah. “Yavoh haMelech V’Haman hayom”, for example, starts off with the letters of Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei. There are remazim throughout the whole Megillah of Hashem’s name that keeps appearing, in so many different places, in so many different permutations. That’s the recognition that he has to read it straight forward and just see how everything ties into the theme of how Hashem orchestrates all events to come to fruition and ultimately to save the Jews!
3) Great Anger
“Vayiktzof hamelech me’ode vachamaso ba’arah bo. (Esther 1:12)” Achashveirosh was very angry at Vashti. The gemara in Megillah 12b says: What was he angry? Why was he so angry that his rath burned inside him? So, Rava says: Not only did Vashti refuse to come to the party as requested, but she even said: You’re a stableboy. My father used to drink tons. Nevuchadnetzar used to drink and eat and he didn’t get drunk, but you, you drank one thing and you’re gone. So, he was very, very angry.
Ketzef is Outward: Cheimah is Internal Rage
So, the Gra explains the following. What is the difference between ketzef and cheimah. They both mean angry. “Vayiktzof hamelech me’ode v’chamaso.” “Ketzef” the word literally means to jump. So, it means that it’s like a wave that comes on top of the mountain. It’s on the outside. And, “cheimah” is the rage that’s on the inside. Normally, when a person gets angry, it starts out in his heart as getting angrier and angrier, but then it gets expressed verbally, and the rage that comes out is expressed afterwards. However, because of that, it gets expressed, and the person calms down eventually. Although, there is conventional wisdom that people say that when you’re angry, you need to express it. There’s actually a lot of research that when people are very angry and they do express it, it actually ends up making them more angry, and so one needs to balance out the proper way to deal with anger, to process, to calm themselves down a little bit. TO count to ten, and then express it a little bit.
Achashveirosh’s Anger Remained
However, this anger did not pass because it was the opposite. Here it was “vayiktzof hamelech me’ode.” HE was so upset at her, he was so offended by what she said that he ran into a rage first, and then his “cheimah”, his upset inside of him, “ba’arah bo” it just burned inside of him. It did not go away. Achashveirosh is not willing to express his anger, what he was upset about because he was embarrassed to say it again. Could you believe what she called me? So, therefore, it didn’t have a way to express itself, and it stayed.
Now, we learn a lot about emotional health throughout the whole Megillah, and you’ll hear a lot about that. One of the things is because the Torah, “hadar kibluhah bimeih Achashveirosh”. They re-accepted it. And, so megillas Esther teaches us so much about tefillah and about ourselves and how to be a mentch. And, of course, when we go through life and we have things that upset us, we should learn how to release that tension and not let it be burning inside of us and taking us over because, “kol hako’eis, kol minei geihinom sholtim bo”. As the gemara says anyone who gets angry, first of all, it’s like he’s oveid avodah zarah because he pushed away Hashem because ka’as means that the life revolves around me, and what I want and not what Hashem wants because I don’t accept what he wants because that’s why I’m angry. And, it also means that you’re going to be suffering yourself because one who is angry is punishing themselves, and we want to be able to release our anger because the Torah cannot stay with a person who is b’cheimah, with anger; the Torah is meant for someone that is b’simcha.
4) Esther’s Reluctance
The trop of (Esther 2:12) “B’hagiyah tor Esther” vs. “b’hagiyah tor na’arah v’na’arah lavoh el hamelech”, is quite telling, say the Gra. Every girl that was going to be taken to Achashveirosh is kadmah v’azlah. She was running to go. She wanted to become the next princess, the next queen. She was so happy. But, then when it gets to Esther's turn, it says, “B’hagiyah tor Esther bas Avichayil dod Mordechai”, the trop is munach, munach, munach. She dug her heels into the ground. She didn’t want to go. She was fighting. If the head of the king, Shashgaz wouldn’t have liked Esther so much, and wouldn’t have seen so much potential in her, he probably would have had her executed because of her resistance to go to the king. But, her excitement was not there. She was munach, munach, munach, dragging her feet. Not interested. A bas Yisrael doesn’t go this way.
5) Eliyahu HaNavi’s Lesson
There’s a very famous and classical story that Rav Chaim Volozhin, the famous, illustrious talmid of the Gra:
Rav Chaim Volozhin was at the seudas Purim, and before he came there a man asked him for money, and he gave him one coin, and the man asked him: Can I please have another one? So, Rav Chaim Volozhin said: Well, give me some of my currency. Tell me a good d’var Torah that I never heard.
The man said to him: How do we know, the gemara in Megillah, the Midrash says that the gezeirah that Hashem decreed against the Jews to destroy them in the time of Haman was only signed in clay, but not in blood because something that’s written in blood can never be rescinded. So, how do I know? He told him that the p’shat is because the pasuk says, “Haman ben Hamidasah tzoreir hayehudim asheir chashav al haYehudim l’avdam” and we darshen the word “l’avdam” means “lo be’dam”. It was not in blood, and that is the p’shat.
Rav Chaim Volozhin, very excited about this explanation gave him another coin. When Rav Chaim told over this story to the Gra, he received an amazing respond. The Gra told him “the same elderly man that told you that is the same one that told Mordechai that p’shat and let Mordechai know that it was not a lost cause.” That was Eliyahu haNavi.
It’s a fascinating story and fascinating remez. But, the bottom line is that the Rebono Shel Olam did not want to hurt the Jews. He wanted to get them to repent. That was the point.
6) “Kimu v’kiblu” Ruach Hakodesh
In perek 9, pasuk 27, the pasuk says, “Kimu v’kiblu haYehudim aleighem.” The Jews re-accepted the Torah. And, here, in the context of the pasuk, it’s actually referring to the Megillah, but the gemara in the Megillah 7 darshens it: Esther said it with ruach hakodesh. And, Shmuel says: How do I know? Because it says, “Kimu v’kiblu.” So, what does that mean? He darshens: l’Maalah. That Hashem accepted in heaven mah shekiblu l’matah. This decree that they accepted down here. But the gemara says that Shmuel’s drasha has no pircha. There’s no way to disprove what he said. That’s the absolute truth.
Tosfos: Two Different Drashas
But, Tosfos asks: But, that’s not true because the gemara in Shabbos 88 says, “Mikan modaah rabbah l’Oraisa”, and there was a big complaint against the Jewish people were able to say that we were forced at Sinai to accept the Torah, and Rava says, “Hadar kibluha bi’mai Achashveirosh” that they established it, they reaccepted it because it says, “Kimu v’Kiblu.” Now, what does that mean? “Kimu mah she’kiblu kvar”. They reaccepted the Torah. So, this drasha of kimu v’kiblu is actually already used. You’re telling me that it means that G-d approved, and that’s how I know that it was all with Ruach Hakodesh because how could I know that G-d approved if not for the fact that you have ruach hakodesh, but really the gemara says that I already used that drash to tell me the Jews kimu v’kiblu. They reaccepted the Torah, so you have no right to use that drasha for two different things.
Gra: Look at Kri and Ksiv
So, the Gra explains that no. There’s a kri and ksiv. There’s two words that are actually written here because the kri, the way we read it is, “v’kiblu” Right? But, it says, “Vkibeil”. It’s missing the Vav. The actual way it’s written is “v’kibeil”, He accepted. But, “v’kiblu” is how we read it. SO what does that mean? So, therefore, we could learn it for two things. How do I know “kimu l’Maalah mah she’kiblu limatah”? Because it says “Kiblu”, that G-d in heaven. The heavenly court accepted it. And, how do I know that the Jews reaccepted the Torah “k’sih echad b’leiv echad”? Because it says “kibeil”. Now, they reaccepted it.
What’s the raayah? Says the Gra, this is brilliant. Now, you have to look through Shas and see if this holds true, but according to the Gra, I guess you would change the girsa when it doesn’t. But, he says like this: In the gemara Megillah it says, “She’ne’emar, ‘kimu v’kiblu’”. What does that mean? It’s learning it from the way that you read it. “she’ne’emar” means as it says, but that means the way that you actually pronounce it, which is kiblu. But, in Meseches Shabbos, when it talks about the Jews, “v’kibeil”, it says, “dicsiv, ‘kimu v’kiblu’”. It’s written those words, “kimu v’kiblu” which it’s only written “v’kibeil”. That’s a brilliant p’shat of the Gra which we have to know whether that holds up in the rest of Shas, but that’s what the Gra says.
7) Day & Night Unique Law
It says in the gemara that a person has to read the Megillah once at night “u’li’shanosa bayom”, and to repeat it during the day. It’s the only mitzvah that you do like that. It’s a very strange thing. We don’t find that you have matza during the night, and then you have matza during the day. We don’t find that you blow shofar at night and during the day. What’s the p’shat? Now, I know it’s a derabbanan, but why do we do that? The gemara asks this question, and the gemara says that it’s because, “za’ak bayom v’za’ak balailah”. The Jews were in pain and they did. They cried out in the day and in the night. What’s the p’shat? The mefarshim explain two things.
Internalize Lesson Always
Number one is that the p’shat is “l’shanoso. You have to repeat it over and over again because you have to recognize and repeat. You have to take it inside and take it to heart and recognize that the Rebono Shel Olam’s providence is there, and make it a part of your life during the day and night.
The second lesson is to recognize the salvation that comes that when you cry to Hashem at day, you get answered at day. When you cry to Hashem at night you get answered at night. Hashem is always listening and always looking to give us the things that we need. And, when we go through the Megillah, and we recognize the amazing providence that took place and we recognize that it’s happening now as well, then we’ll always remember that Hashem is there for us in every time of need. That’s the celebration of Purim that we should all be zocheh to.
8) Closing Lesson
“Vi’hayamim ha’eilah nizkarim v’naasim bi’chol dor vador” (9:28). How are we to understand this directive and why does it tell us to remember the lessons in each and every generation. Why is this so wordy and important? Gra says the following. As we explained earlier: “Karah es haMegillah l’mafrei’ah lo yatza”. What does that mean? If you read it and you think: that was all in the past, that only happened in the past, and Hashem doesn’t do miracles for us, then you missed the whole point of the Megillah. Like we said: Always remember that the Rebono Shel Olam is constantly, actively looking to do providence and to care for us and to make sure that every single thing in our life goes correctly.
The foundation of Purim and the foundation of the entire Torah, which was reaccepted on Purim, is that of Hashem’s Providence and care for each and every one of us. He is always watching and caring for us. Let us take in the lesson’s of Purim and let them inspire and uplift us to further greatness.
Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at ParshaThemes.com