Thursday, March 20, 2014


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shemini- Parah
19 Adar II 5774/March 21, 2014

T’was the night after Shushan Purim, and as I was putting one of our children (who shall remain nameless for the sake of anonymity) into his bed, the sound of scrunching and crunching could be heard. I moved away his blanket to discover a pile of his ‘loot’ from Purim – candies, nosh, and a few dollars. When I asked him what all of it was, he replied matter-of-factly that it was his stuff from Purim. “Mommy said we had to put it away in a good place, so I did!”
The holiday of Purim is beyond compare. The gaiety, laughter, and general celebration is without parallel. But it passes all too quickly.
Haman, the Purim antagonist, was no fool. In order to ensure that his nefarious plans would come to fruition, he wanted to frighten the Jews, and cause them to be struck with such terror and panic that they would become paralyzed and unable to mobilize. The Megillah (9:24) clearly states that the purpose of the Purim (lots) which Haman cast was “to frighten them and to annihilate them.”  In addition, in the lyrical song of Purim - Shoshanas Yaakov, we refer to Zeresh as ‘the wife of one who terrified me’. However, Haman’s efforts failed. The Jews rallied around their leaders Mordecahi and Esther, and despite their fear, recommitted themselves to G-d and achieved an unprecedented wave of repentance and reacceptance of Torah.
In the end, it was Haman who was destroyed through his own tactic. There was no one who knew how to sweet-talk and convince anyone of anything better than Haman (move over lawyer jokes). At the same time there was no greater sucker for Haman’s verbal manipulation than Achashveirosh, as is evident throughout the beginning of the Purim story. So how did Haman end up on the gallows?
From the moment when he was instructed to parade his nemesis through the streets of Shushan until he was on the gallows, Haman didn’t have a moment to contemplate and rationalize about what was happening. Things take place at such a feverish pace, that the master manipulator couldn’t so much as catch his breath and formulate a response. After his family waste was dumped on his head during the parade, the humiliated Haman was hoisted off to the second party, where he was immediately exposed as the villain by Queen Esther. The king stormed off in a rage to calm himself down, but returned moments later even angrier, only to find Haman attacking the queen (or so he thought). Haman was immediately condemned, and the verse states (7:6) “Haman trembled in terror before the king and queen.” In another moment Charvona stuck the proverbial nail in the coffin! The suave and urbane Haman had been destroyed with his own approach! 
However, the deposed and disposed Haman has left his mark upon the holiday he unwittingly created. The fleeting holiday seems to become a cloud of business, a mad rush to deliver shalach manos, and to get to where we need to be. Purim becomes a race against time, with the stress of traffic only adding to the pressure.
Part of the greatness of Purim is that the focus of the day pulls us in so many directions. Vertically the day reignites our connection with G-d by training us to recognize His hidden Hand in nature. Horizontally the days builds our camaraderie and love for each other like no other time of year. Inwardly it helps remind us of how lucky we are to be Torah Jews. So much to accomplish in so little time - no wonder we feel harried.  
When Purim ends, aside for finding place for all of the physical loot we have amassed (and have to get rid of within the next thirty days) we need to find a way to hold onto the incredible spiritual light of Purim, so that it leaves an indelible impression upon our souls for the entire year.

               Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
               R’ Dani and Chani Staum

720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425