Purim: Revealing the Hidden

By Rabbi Yosef Tropper

Posted on 02/24/18

1) Questions on Chayiv inish L’bisumei b’Puriya

We all know the famous gemara Megillah (7b) that tells us chayiv inish l’bisumei b’Puriya ad d’lo yada. A person has a mitzvah to, Rashi translates it as: to drink on Purim, until he doesn’t know the difference between arur Haman and baruch Mordechai.  Cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai. The mefarshim struggle: What does that mean?  Does that mean a person has to get so drunk that he doesn’t know the difference, and what exactly is the mitzvah of drinking on Purim, and what is this amount called: ‘ad d’lo yada, until he doesn’t know’?

Maharal’s Explanation: Both Good and Bad From Hashem

One of my favorite p’shatim comes from Maharal, on his commentary on Megilas Esther, Ohr Chadash. He shares a beautiful p’shat which is such a powerful idea. The entire purpose of the Purim story, when we read the megillah, once at night and once during the day, is that we are trying to deeply embed the lesson that Hashem runs the world and no matter what we or anyone else does Hashem’s will always prevails! Even if the goyim decree death against us, and even if it’s l’hashmid, l’harog, l’abeid, the Jews will prevail with their Torah and tefillah and Hashem will save us and take good care of us.

Hashem is the one who is orchestrating all the events and everything that happens.  Even Esther getting taken into the palace, which was a horrible thing for her, it was for the sake of saving k’lal Yisrael and she became the great Shliach to bring out the salvation. Every single pasuk we read in the Megillah we’re being inspired by this idea and we deepen our understanding of how each piece falls into the bigger picture of how Hashem, who’s name is not mentioned throughout the Megillah, but yet His orchestration and guidance is seen throughout the entire storyline.

Maharal thus explains that the entire purpose when we read through the Megillah is to recognize that only Hahsem is the one that controls things, and if we are to think to ourselves: Haman was so evil and Haman was this terrible sinister person and it was his own doing that allowed him to enact a decree to destroy the Jews.. and if we think to ourselves that it was Mordechai’s brilliance that saved us, then we have missed the entire point of the Megillah, because, says the Maharal: to Hashem, He has power over the cursed Haman, and He has power over the blessed Mordechai. They are puppets in His hand, and Hashem is the one Who’s ultimate will is what allowed the gezeirah to come through which was l’hashmede, l’harog, u’labeid, to destroy the Jews, and Hashem is the One Who stopped the decree. What we need to do on Purim is to drink and to throw out our own da’as, our own thought process, and throw out our own perception of life and recognize that it’s only Hashem who allows anything negative to happen to us and it is only Hashem who allows anything positive, and that’s what we can’t differentiate between arur Haman and Baruch Mordechai, that level means that we don’t attribute anything to Haman or to Mordechai, but rather we come to a higher recognition that it is all from Hashem. The gezeirah was from Hashem in order to create an opportunity for teshuva for the Jews. The salvation was from Hashem.

Moshe’s Name Omitted in the Haggaddah

It’s interesting that many people ask that we don’t find Moshe’s name mentioned throughout the whole, entire Haggaddah shel Passach, and you know that there is one very minute exception to that.  Maybe we’ll save that for a different time on Pesach.  But, basically, throughout the whole Haggadah shel Pesach, you would think that Moshe’s name would be there.  You would think that he was an integral character. However, he is missing. The point is the same exact lesson. That it’s Ani v’lo malach. Hashem says that I’m the one that causes the salvation.  I’m the one that saves you. It was not Pharaoh who overpowered me, rather I control him, and Moshe has no power outside of what I grant him.  

Throw Out Your Own Da’as

As we sing on Purim: l’hodea shekol kovecha lo yavoshu v’lo yikalmu lanetzach kol hachosim bo, that anyone hopes to Hashem and relies on Hashem will be taken care of.  That is the entire purpose of Megillas Esther, and that’s what it means that a person needs to drink and throw out his da’as.  You don’t have to, necessarily, do it with alcohol.  Just throw out your own da’as.  When you drink you lose some of your da’as.  It has nothing to do with the sibos, the causes, but it has to do with Hashem deciding whatever is going to happen to us l’tov or l’rah, chas v’shalom, for bad or for good as well, and for our salvation, and, therefore, we daven and we turn to Hashem alone.

Ramban: “ki Hag’zeirah Emes V’hacharitzus Sheker

This is very much in line with the Ramban’s there expressed in his famous words, “ki hag’zeirah emes v’hacharitzu sheker.”  The Ramban says that Yosef HaTzaddik had many opportunities not to go to Doson and not to confront his brothers, but he was determined to go there because his father had given him a tzivuy to go check on his brothers, his father had commanded him to go check on them, and he was going to do it no matter what. At all costs. Yosef carried on because Hashem was pushing it forward.  “ki hagezeirah emes.”  Because Hashem’s decree of what’s supposed to happen is immutable, and cannot be refuted.  “V’hacharitzu sheker.” Any attempt to stop it is just falsehood. Hashem wanted Yosef to get sold now to Egypt in order to bring out the Jews going down there, and, eventually, of course, them going out of Egypt and being redeemed in the right time as well. This is the lesson of Purim that if we rely on Hashem; Hashem alone has the power.

Eye injury

Allow me to share 3 stories. The first one is from my dear rebbe, Rav Asher Zelig Rubenstein zt”l, and this story is actually printed as well (LevErez.com, Wings of Faith, p. 58). Rav Asher told over that he had a friend who used to play racquetball, squash which is a game that involves throwing around a ball, and using a racket to hit it. This man incurred a terrible injury when he was accidentally hit in the eye with a racket, and he was rushed to the hospital and they put a bandage on his eye and they gave him very strict orders that he needed through bedrest and his eye’s recovery lay in the balance.  He might not ever see again, unfortunately.  

After two weeks his wife took him to the hospital to have the bandage removed and when they pulled open the bandage his eye began to gush blood, and his wife interpreted this as a failure in the healing process and she fainted on the spot because she was afraid the worse has happened. Well, the doctors revived her, and they explained that she had just witnessed an amazingly crucial part of the recovery.  There had been a piece of dirt that was stuck in the eye that was preventing it from healing properly.  The doctor said that from his assessment because of that blood that pushed it out, it helped get rid of all the infection and all the dirt that was in there and he now anticipated a full recovery. That’s exactly what happened.  

Rav Asher said: How many times in life that we see blood and we think that it’s the worse thing, and we think that this is a sign for failure, destruction, of problem, but really that’s Hashem solving the problem, and creating an amazing opportunity for healing and that’s exactly what happened. What an amazing story about seeing Hashem’s hand, and check out our website leverez.com for more information about that.

The Perfect Time to Lose a Job

The next story is a famous story that’s going around, and this is the version that I heard from someone who knows the man involved.  There was a man named Yankele.  He was a hard working man.  He had a wife and three kids.  And, he wanted to do what was right.  He wanted to support his family, and he was a ben-Torah, and took his responsibilities very seriously.  One day he got to work and he was told that he had been laid off.  He had heard that they was going to be some shift, some movements in the workplace and he got the notice that he had been terminated.

This was just devastating news and he was overcome with emotion. How was he going to support his family?  How was he going to pay his bills?  And, this was something that really, really his him hard.  And, he collected his belongings and left work, and he went to go daven mincha, and when he got to mincha he opened up the siddur and he was davening and he was just in tears when he got up to the pasuk “tov Hashem lakol v’rachamav al kol maasav.”  He said: Hashem, You’re merciful on everyone.  He couldn’t get the words out because it didn’t make sense to him.  How Hashem?  Where’s Your mercy?  I’m a father.  I’m a husband.  I have responsibilities, and he wanted to accept it.  And, he struggled for a long time, way beyond the shul’s minyan davening and having their sh’moneh esrei, and finally he was able to say: Hashem, if doesn’t make sense to me.  I don’t understand it, but “Tov Hashem lakol v’rachamav al kol maasav.”  I agree, and I accept your g’zeirah, and that was it. He finished his davening, and resolved: I’m going to believe in Hashem, and I know that Hashem has a plan for me, and this is exactly what’s best.  

The very next morning, on September 11, 2001, many of his co-workers didn’t survive the attack in his old office in the Twin Towers. Because he had been laid off, he wasn’t in the building, and he understood so deeply how much “Tov Hashem lakol v’rachamav al kol maasav”.  How that exact thing that looked like blood, that looked like the worst for him, that he had been laid off, and he lost his job was actually the biggest blessing, and saved his life.  What rachamim on his wife and his children, and on himself, on his own life because Hashem had a plan for him. That’s what the idea  of Purim is. Gezeira emes. What Hashem decides that you’re going to live.  “V’hacharitzu sheker.”  You can’t stop it no matter what.

Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky’s Job

This final story was published by Rabbi Pesach Krohn in his amazing book, “Illuminations of the Maggid (2016, p. 147).” Rav Yaakov was a rabbi in a small village. The name of the city is Tzipvian in Lithuania, and they were not able to pay his salary for an extended time. With a sense of responsibility to feed his family Rav Yaakov applied for a number of other positions, and one of the famous places that he applied was in Vilkamear which was a large community of eight-thousand Jews, and it was a very, very big upgrade for him. The city leaders deliberated back and forth and finally they let him know that he was accepted for the position and that they were going to be sending him his official k’sav rabbanus right after Succos, and his famly would be coming.  

Rav Yaakov never heard back from the city, and a few days after Succos his wife was reading the Yiddish newspaper and she read an article that was congratulating the new Rabbi of Vilkamear and it was not her husband upon his appointment. She was devastated.  She was really just broken by this because here they had, Rav Yaakov himself said that he was embarrassed to walk by stores, the grocery stores because of the amount of money that they owed, the amount of debt.  This had been an opportunity and now it was lost.  She showed him the article and he understood that somehow his position had been given to someone else and Rav Yaakov told her we need to be strong. This is what Hashem decided. This is for the best, even if we can’t see it.  Even if we don’t understand it.  This is what’s for the best, and of course his wife was a great woman as well and they both worked on their bitachon together.

Meanwhile, Rav Yaakov had to do hishtadlus, he needed money, and an opportunity arose to go to America in 1937 to solicit funds for Slabodka kollel.  Now, before he left he went to his rebbe, the D’var Avraham, who gave him s’micha.  Rav Avraham Dov Ber Kahana Shapiro passed away in 1943. The D’var Avraham was very, very stern with him.  He said: You need to go to America.  That’s where it is for you.  That’s where you guys need to bring your hashpa’ah, your influence. Rav Yaakov fought back, and said: No, I need to be in Lithuania. The D’var Avraham said: No, you’re wrong.  There are three hundred more rabbanim like you here in Lithuania. They don’t need you here.  In America they need your Torah and they need your chinuch.  Rav Yaakov was not convinced, but his rebbe had spoken, and so he was at least open to it.

On March 12, 1938, after Adolf Hitler made the onshlass with Austria everybody understood what was going on, and Rav Yaakov certainly did as well, and so Rav Yaakov that year made a decision that he was going to follow his rebbe’s advice and leave. This was not a safe place for him to be, and he needed to get out of here.  Rav Yaakov had taken on an interim position in a shul in Seattle, but it was a very temporary position, and he knew that if he was going to bring his family over he would need to take a real position, and also be able to have the finances to be able to pay for them to come back.

He interviewed in a very large community in Toronto, and the community was very torn about him.  On the one hand, they loved him. He was a tremendous scholar, and a brilliant, friendly and amazing person. On the other hand, many of the people in that community had chassidish background and so one of the questions that they asked him was: Do you have a rebbe?  He said: Yeah, I do.  I have a rebbe that I served diligently I ate with him.  I slept in his home.  I took care of him.  He was referring to Rav Nosson Tzvi FInkel.  I learned from him. But, he was a Litvak.  He was not a chassidish person.  And, so there was a big debate whether or not to accept him or not, and what happened next is just amazing.  There was a chassidish rebbe that was passing through Toronto, and he was from Lithuania, and he said to the board: That’s Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky that you’re interviewing?  Let me tell you about him.  He said: He was a candidate in the city of Vilkemear, and he was actually accepted for the candidacy, and even though there was a tremendous chassidish presence there I could tell you that if he was good enough for them he is certainly good enough for you guys. It was because of that comment that Rav Yaakov got the job, and on September 11, 1938, Rav Yaakov brought over his family, and accepted that position which he held until 1945. The Toronto community was very deeply inspired and built up by Rav Yaakov and his family.

I’ve heard it from other people with another detail which I haven’t verified. When the German’s took over all the cities and they got to Vilkemere, unfortunately, the first person to be executed by them was the rabbi of the city.  What Rav Pesach Krohn does say in the story, in his research was that the entire city of Vilkamere was murdered by the Nazis, but suffice it to say that the fact that Rav Yaakov did not get that position or the fact that Rav Yaakov did get that position, but it wasn’t held for him for whatever reason is what made it that him and his family got out of Europe and were able to rebuild America in Canada and in the United States of America and he was able to follow the D’var Avraham, his rebbe’s advice and become a tremendous leader for the Jews.

Hashem Knows and Does What’s Best For Us

The bottom line is that Hashem is the one who runs the show, and sometimes we think we know what’s best for us, but Hashem always knows what’s best for us.  And, Hashem is always advocating for what’s best for us.  And, when we keep that in mind we have taken home the message of Purim.  L’hodia, which is to teach us, shekol kovecha, anyone that believes, anyone who hopes to Hashem, lo yaivoshu, he’ll never be embarrassed.  That’s the greatest most reliable source to believe in, Hashem is the most reliable entity to trust.  V’lo yicalmu lanetzach kol hachosim bo. If you cover yourself in Hashem’s shade, if you ask Hashem to protect you and take care of you, He will be there for you, and He will give you what’s best.

Concluding words: May we see Hashem In Our Lives and Reveal the Hidden

This Purim may we shine forth with a tremendous amount of growth, and be able to see Hashem in every which way in our lives and reveal the hidden.  The hidden is that Hashem is always watching and Hashem is always guiding, and may that inspire us and illuminate our path, and may we live with tremendous bitachon and growth every single day.  Happy Purim.


Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rav and psychotherapist. Learn more and subscribe at ParshaThemes.com