Too often, perhaps because of the fact that we are allowed to do work unlike Shabbos and other holidays, or because there are so many elements packed into one day, Purim is overlooked as a day of spiritual growth. While the mitzvos of the day are meant to be performed with that mindset, the frenetic, hectic, and overwhelming activities of the day don’t lend themselves to sitting and thinking. Too easily, fundamental aspects of Purim are lost in the shuffle. In this Dvar Torah, we will examine one such fundamental idea.
The Gemarah (Megillah 16) tells us of an interesting encounter between Haman and Mordechai. When Haman came to the Beis Medrash to take Mordechai to the parade in his honor, he asked them what they were learning. As it was Pesach, they were learning the halachos of the Korban Omer, the barley offering brought on the second day of Pesach; specifically the halachos of the flour brought as a Korban Mincha. Upon hearing this, Haman uttered, “Your handful of flour has overpowered my 10,000 pieces of silver.” He knew from that point that he had no chance of defeating the Jewish People; and the very next day, he was killed.
The medrash continues on this point and says that the merit of the mitzvah of the Omer which provided the salvation for the Jewish People by the story of Purim. Wow! What is the connection between Omer and Purim and what is the great merit found in the mitzvah of Omer that could provide salvation for the Jewish People?
Rav Eliyahu Dessler, ZT”L, in his sefer, Michtav M’Eliyahu, expounds on this idea. When we think about all the work we put in so we can just survive, we understand immediately how difficult it is. We work very hard to bring home money for food. The food preparation itself is not easy either; many hours are put in to preparing a meal from start to finish. But when we look at nature, we think everything is so easy. In many instances without any effort on the part of any person, food comes out of the ground. Something as simple as planting a seed in the ground and leaving it alone for some time, can result in beautiful produce. The sun rises and sets by itself, no need to wire electricity around the city. And while we need to do laundry, the air and ground are washed every so often by the rain.
But this is not true; food doesn’t just sprout from the ground. The soil must be right, there must be plenty of rain, the seed needs sunlight as well. And while these things happen naturally, that doesn’t mean there is no effort behind it. Hashem is behind every single step of this process, but because we have come to think of it as a natural occurrence, we don’t see how this is a miracle as well. Barley is a good representative of this. It is a grain which is cheap, not usually used for human consumption, a plant which was often left to its’ own devices. However, in reality, even barley is from the greatest of Hashem’s miracles. We just need to look at nature and understand how all of it is supernatural.
This is the avodah of Purim. Looking at the entire story of Purim, every aspect of it was completely natural. Vashti made Achashverosh upset, so he killed her and picked a new wife, the most beautiful woman he could find. She happened to be related to the Gadol Hador who also happened to overhear a plot to assassinate the king. Years later, the king decided to repay the favor and gave this man tremendous influence. At the same time, the king’s trusted advisor, Haman, rose through the ranks of government. He decided to kill the Jews, but his plans were foiled when it was discovered that the queen herself was Jewish! The king was furious and immediately did away with him, saving the Jews in the meanwhile. What a tremendous set of circumstances! But without proper perspective, that’s exactly how this story would be seen.
It’s our job on Purim to look at the world and understand how everything, whether it be the interactions between kings and common folk, or how the barley stalks rise and the sun sets every day, it is all a miracle; there is nothing simple or natural about it. It’s all significant and is part of Hashem’s plan.
And by the way, the day Haman was killed was the second day of Pesach, the same day we brought the Korban Omer in the Beis Hamikdash.
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