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Length: 58 minutes
Taanis Esther is a day of tefillah. The power of the Jewish People comes from the bracha (blessing) of Yitzchok, Hakol Kol Yaakov, the voice is the voice of Yaakov. Our weapon to fight against Eisav is our tefillos. On Purim, Mordechai, the descendant of Yaakov, fights against Haman, the descendant of Eisav. We spent three days fasting and praying that Hashem should send us a salvation. Esther does not tell Achashveirosh her request immediately to teach us that sometimes, the answer to our prayers is not immediate, but Hashem gathers our tefillos and always listens and responds.
Length: 40 minutes
Two of the central mitzvos of Purim are matanos le’evyonim (gifts to the poor) and mishloach manos (gifts to friends). The Rambam writes that the most important mitzva on Purim is not the seudah (feast) or mishloach manos, but matanos le’evyonim. We might think this is because giving to the poor is the most virtuous of the mitzvos, but this is not his reasoning. The Rambam explains that the thing that gives a person the most joy is giving to others. When we bring joy to someone else, we are using the piece inside of us which is domeh l’shechina (similar to G-d) to imitate His ways. Hashem is the Ultimate Giver, and we aim to be like Him. This is a concept which we can apply to our family lives as well, using this attribute of giving to bring the Shechina into our relationships. We hope to use the day of Purim to be givers, and to uplift ourselves with the rich taste of the joy of bringing happiness to others.
Length: 1 hour
Esther was orphaned from both parents before she had a chance to know them. Her parents gave up their lives so that she could be born, just like their ancestor, Rachel Imeinu, gave her life for her son Binyamin to be born. Esther has this trait within her as well-she is willing to give everything up, both physically and spiritually, for the sake of Bnei Yisroel. Esther played her role at a time when the Jewish people felt orphaned from Hashem; she, as an orphan, stepped in and did the job. These 2 elements are the power and heroism of Esther.
Length: 1 hour 6 minutes
One of the most famous midrashim on Purim discusses the tail that Vashti grew after she was summoned to Achashveirosh. There are animalistic elements of Vashti that are expressed through the growth of a tail, similar to her grandfather Nevuchadnezzar. Nevuchadnezzar was reduced to an animal-like creature when he became too haughty and forgot that Hashem is above the entire world. The snake convinced Chava to eat from the Etz Hadaas with this same idea: the possibility to be on the same level as Hashem, rather than below Him. However, the picture of a true tzelem elokim, someone is the image of G-d who is above animals, is someone who recognizes that Hashem is above him.
Length: 57 minutes
Purim is a time when we reaccepted the Torah, reaffirming our connection to Hashem. In this shiur based on the teachings of Rav Hutner, we explore three explanations of Kimu V’kiblu (they established and reaccepted [the Torah]). First, although Amalek wants to claim that our relationship with Hashem is a chance encounter, we prove that it is an ongoing relationship that we will stick to and preserve. Additionally, we are stating that we were not forced, but rather, we are the same Klal Yisroel that said Na’aseh V’nishmah (we will do and we will hear) at Har Sinai, and we want to accept the Torah. This positive acceptance does not necessitate any separation from the past or charatah (regret); rather, the strength of the good takes away from the strength of the bad through the v’nahapoch hu of Purim.
Length: 1 hour 15 minutes
Purim is a continuation of the conflict between Yaakov and Esav, as expressed through Esav’s descendant, Amalek. Although Yaakov and Esav are twins and share similar external similarities, they are fundamentally different internally. In this shiur based on the teachings of Rav Hutner, we explore two different dimensions of the relationship between Yaakov and Esav. While Esav’s realm is Olam Hazeh and gashmiyus (materialism), Yaakov’s portion is Olam Habah (the World to Come), and focused on ruchniyus (spirituality). Esav is powerful today, and appears as though he is winning in this world, but ultimately, Yaakov has the power of tomorrow, and will win over Esav. Purim is a time when we experienced that element of machar (tomorrow), winning over Amalek, as Yaakov triumphing over Esav.
Length: 1 hour
Purim is not a Yom Tov, as we are allowed to do melacha (work). It cannot be a full Yom Tov like Sukkos and Pesach, as we were still under the rule of Achashveirosh. Although we celebrate our salvation with great joy, it was not a complete redemption, especially for Esther Hamalka, who was still stuck in the palace. Specifically on Purim, the holiday in exile, we send gifts to the poor and to our friends, making sure to take care of one another, unlike times of complete redemption, when Hashem takes care of Bnei Yisrael directly.
Length: 54 minutes
When Rabbi Akiva was trying to arouse his sleeping students, he told them that Sarah lived for 127 years, and her granddaughter Esther merited ruling 127 countries. Although the stories of Sarah and Esther have some similarities, they are fundamentally different. Sarah leaves the palace of Pharaoh untouched, while Esther is forced live the rest of her life with Achashveirosh. Hashem was hidden in the times of Esther, and things seemed to be very difficult. However, each difficult piece ended up contributing to the redemption. If such a seemingly terrible occurrence can be part of the salvation, anything can be! Rabbi Akiva was telling his students to awaken from a period of sleep and little growth to recognize that it is the same Hashem who controlled both manifestations of 127, and is the same Hashem with us today.
Length: 1 hour
When Amalek came to fight Bnei Yisrael, the term used is “karcha baderech“- they happened upon you along the way. The word “keri” can mean by chance, and it can also mean coolness. If we view things in a cool, detached manner, Hashem will add cheimah-fury-to the keri, heating things up so that we will respond appropriately. Therefore, the idea of cheimah appears repeatedly in the megillah. We must take care not to “cool off” in our relationship with Hashem when his hand seems to be hidden, blaming things on chance like Amalek does.
In this 4 part series, we learn pieces from Rav Hutner’s Pachad Yitzchok relating to Purim. We discuss different aspects of Amalek, the Persian aspect of Purim, and the fact that Purim will continue to be celebrated even in the future.
Length: 55 minutes
Purim has many allusions to korbanos. When we shect (slaughter) an animal, we are elevating it by allowing it to become part of a higher level of creation, the human. When Esav sold the bechorah to Yaakov, he expressed that he had no desire or use for something transcendent, as he is a man of this world. In contrast, we always work to bring things up and elevate them in order to become closer to Hashem. The names of the advisors who told Achashverosh to kill Vashti are references to the different elements of korbanos. Hashem then planted Esther in the palace so that we could ultimately return to serving Him in the Beis Hamikdash, elevating material elements to come closer to Him.
Length: 1 hour
Parshas Tzav speaks about korbanos–when a person takes an animal and brings it up to Hashem. This is very relevant to Purim, as we celebrate with food and drink, and distinguish ourselves from the way goyim act when they indulge. When Nevuchadnezzar and Vashti forget that Hashem is above them, they are reduced to the levels of an animal. On Purim, we recognize Hashem even without open miracles, bringing ourselves up and attributing everything to Hashem, even in a drunken state with the inability to distinguish between good and evil.
Length: 40 minutes
The 4th aliyah in Parshas Tzav discusses Moshe gathering all of the Jewish People before the Ohel Moed (tent of meeting) to appoint Aharon as Kohen Gadol. This space was not large enough for everyone to fit, but there was a nes that there was enough room for all. This concept of many fitting into space for few comes up in various places pertaining to the mishkan. This is because when it comes to the Ribbono Shel Olam there are no limitations and no boundaries. This concept of not having boundaries applies to our interpersonal relationships – specifically in marriage as well. As long as we are looking out for someone else there is always enough room.
The conflict of the Jewish people and Amalek – central to the story of Purim – is a continuation of the ongoing struggle between their forebears, Yaakov and Eisav. Yaakov and Eisav were twins, but whereas some twins are identical, these twins were opposites. Yaakov...read more
The period of the month of Elul and the Yamim Noraim, known as the High Holiday season, is a great gift, מן הטובות אשר הטיב השי”ת עם ברואיו. Each year we are afforded this opportunity to reflect and to reconnect, to spend weeks engaged with G-d and community on a...read more
Imagine a State of the Union address that - instead of measuring progress relative to the promises made during the most recent election campaign - used the yardstick of the values and goals articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Such an...read more
Dvar Torah Chanukah 5778 Even as Chanukah celebrates the impressive Hasmonean victory over the Greek armies, we more prominently commemorate the miracle of the hidden flask of Menorah oil. And while the battlefield conjures up images of strength and bluster, Chanukah...read more
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