Purim – Brotherly Jealousy

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In the story of Yosef and his brothers, the jealousy amongst the brothers got out of control on some level. But at the very end of the Megillas Esther we find a whole different perspective on brotherly jealousy. The last pasuk of the megilla writes, “For Mordechai the Jew was viceroy to King Achashverosh; he was a great man among the Jews and found favor with most of his brethren; he sought the good of his people and spoke for the welfare of all his seed” (Esther 10:3).

The Ibn Ezra explains the last part of the pasuk. “And found favor with most of his brethren, for it is not possible for a person to make everyone happy since there is brotherly jealousy. He sought the good for his people, it would have been enough for him to do good to those that asked him for a favor, but he sought out people to do good to them. His seed, refers to his children and grandchildren. Normally children fear their fathers and behold he first spoke peacefully even to his children who are like his servants and even to the rest of his nation. The pasuk mentioned his great attributes and humility just as it mentions about Moshe our master, ‘And the man Moshe was the humblest person of all mankind.'” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Mordechai just saved the Jewish people from complete annihilation at the hands of Haman. He was the one who convinced Esther to confront Achashveirosh. He was the one who got Bigsan and Seresh killed for the attempted assassination of the king, which led to Mordechai’s reward and Haman’s ultimate downfall. He also was a part of the Sanhedrin, the high Jewish court, and a tremendous sage who knew 70 languages and helped many Jews resolve their issues. Besides the Jews being totally indebted to Mordechai for saving their lives, once he became viceroy to Achashveirosh he became even more active in the Jewish community. Normally a good politician will be open to helping anyone who asks for help if they can, but he went out of his way to search for Jews who needed his help. He was also gentle and soft spoken to everyone including his family members, searching out peace, and not intimidating anyone.

Such humility, on par with Moshe Rabbeinu; how then even for Mordechai the Righteous, was it possible for anyone not to like him but only find favor in their eyes? It would seem according to the Ibn Ezra that this concept of “brotherly jealousy ” on some level makes it impossible to have everyone like you, no matter how nice of a person you are. It’s a natural tendency in the world, not necessarily outright jealousy, but a familial, lower-grade jealousy that always exists and is impossible to avoid. Therefore it’s impossible to expect for everyone to like you; that’s just the way of the world.

Torah Riddles Test #177

2.    Question: Why can you have a snack before fulfilling the mitzvah of lulav and esrog if it’s delayed coming to you but if you are going to a later minyan to hear megilla you should not even snack until after you hear megilla?


A. The fast of Taanis Esther ends at nightfall but you shouldn’t eat anything until after you fulfill the mitzvah (of megilla) just as you shouldn’t eat anything until after you fulfill any other mitzvah like lulav or shofar etc.

 B. There is more of a mitzvah to fulfill the megilla reading in a congregation in order to publicize the miracle.

 Answer: You can taste before lulav and esrog if there is a delay because it’s a mitzvah you do by yourself. But megilla should be read in a group and we are concerned even if you eat a snack you might miss the mitzvah all together or at least the start of the reading, which means you’d have to hear it again by yourself not in a group. (Dirshu Mishna Berura back page 131 footnote 32)

Torah Riddles Test #176

1.    Question: How is it possible to fulfill the mitzvah of matanos li’evyonim when giving it to a father and son where the son is still dependent on the father?


A. The mitzvah of matanos li’evyonim is two give money enough for a meal to two people.

B. The Aruch HaShulchan (693:2) says that if you give to a husband and wife or a father and son or daughter who relies on their parents for food it is not considered giving to two poor people, rather to only one poor person.

  Answer: The Responsa Hisorirus Teshuva (3:489) says that if you give the father and son on condition that the father has no permission to touch the son’s portion then you fulfill the mitzvah. (Dirshu Mishna Berura back page 134 footnote 13)

Teruma/Purim –

Grace and a Good Name > Money
In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Terumah, Hashem tells Moshe, “”Speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for Me a gift…” (Shemos 25:2). The Medrish says that this alludes to the fact that in reality everything belongs to Hashem. The Maharz”u points out that this is the message the following Medrish Rabba gives when it connects this portion to Purim.

The Medrish Rabba in the beginning of Parshas Teruma quotes a pasuk from Mishley, “’A good name is more choice than great riches and beneficent grace than silver and gold’ (Mishley 22:1). [One of the things the medrish says] this pasuk relates to is Mordechai’s name being of choice more than the wealth of Haman. Rebbe Yoshia asked, ‘What did this wicked person (Haman) do?’ He took out all his silver and gold (The Etz Yosef said it really means most of his money) and gave it to Achashveirosh. Hashem told him ‘A good name is more choice… and beneficent grace than silver and gold.’ Esther’s grace was more choice, as it says, ‘that she [Esther] won favor in his eyes’ (Esther 5:2). When the wicked one (Haman) came with his money, the king said the money is given to you. Hashem said, if you sell what’s mine with what is mine, as it says ‘For My servants are the Jewish People’ (Vayikra 25:54), it also writes, ‘Mine is the silver, Mine is the gold’ (Chaggai 2:8), therefore Hashem swore, by your life when you said the money is given to you etc. rather, ‘On that day King Achashveirosh gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman’ (Esther 8:1), (Shemos Rabba 33:5).” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
Haman was extremely rich, in fact the Medrish says elsewhere in the name of Rebbe Pinchas that there were two rich people that stood out in world history, one Jewish and one non-Jewish, and their wealth was only for their bad. Korach, the Jew, found the treasure house of silver and gold that Yosef had accumulated and hidden. Haman, the gentile, found the treasure house of the kings of Yehuda. When King Achashveirosh saw his wealth and that his ten sons were ministers, he promoted Haman to a very high position (Esther Rabba 7:5). The Etz Yosef there in fact points out that Haman was a lowly advisor, known as Memuchan, who was listed last of the advisors in the first perek of megillas Esther. He was the one who gave advice to get rid of Vashti. It would seem that King Achasveirosh might have promoted Haman so that he can somehow get to Haman’s wealth, which in fact happened because the Medrish we saw in parshas Terumah says that Haman actually gave most his wealth to Achashveirosh as payment for letting him destroy the Jewish people but,as the Yefeh Toar points out, Achashveirosh gave it back to Haman as a deposit until Haman finished his job, as it says, “And the king said to Haman, “The silver is given to you,” (Esther 3:11), instead of saying “to him, it shall be given to you” which would have implied that Achashveirosh was paying Haman to kill the Jews. The Yefeh Toar concludes that with all the money Haman was willing to give to Achashveirosh to kill the Jews,  Achashveirosh still picked Esther’s grace over all that money Haman was watching for him. The Etz Yosef also points out that Mordechai’s good name, that was mentioned in Achashveirosh’s chronicles for saving his life, was considered more worthy than Haman’s wealth to the extent that he belittled Haman and disgraced him by having him lead Mordechai on the king’s horse through the streets of Shushan.

We must take this into perspective. King Achashveirosh had a tremendous lust for money as we saw from his extravagant parties in the beginning of the Purim story and he had in his grip most of Haman’s wealth still in all he risked throwing it all away and insulting Haman by forcing him to lead his archenemy through the streets of Shushan calling out Mordechai’s honor all because Mordechai saved his life.

As for Queen Esther, what was the grace that won over Achashveirosh? The Malbim relates that in fact Achashveirosh loved Esther so much that he never thought that the law which said nobody can enter the king’s courtyard without his permission applied to her and when he saw her sheepishly standing by the entrance, granted he felt he did not have to stretch out his scepter to allow her jn, but in her humility standing by the entrance to the courtyard, not barging in, that found favor (or grace) in his eyes, for he saw that this was  righteous humility in her heart, that she didn’t realize she did not have to abide by this law, therefore he stuck out his scepter as to accept her and whatever wishes she would ask for. Esther’s timid and modest character is what in fact caught Achashveirosh’s attention and made such an impact that he felt he had to grant whatever she asked for. In the end the Jews were saved, Haman was killed, and although he had such a crave for money, he gave all of Haman’s house and wealth away to Esther who in turn gave it to Mordechai. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

Besides seeing the clear picture that Hashem can orchestrate anything because He is the Almighty, we are His people and this was all His money that He can do what He wants with, however we also see that no matter how much of a draw and a desire the thirst for money is, a good name and a graceful character are more valuable.

Torah Riddles Test #175

2. Question: According to Rav Moshe Feinstein why can a man who already heard megilla read it for a woman who has not heard megilla yet even according to the opinion that she is not part of arvus, every Jew is responsible for another which is why one can fulfill a mitzvah for someone else even if he already fulfilled the mitzvah himself?


A. The Digul merivivah says that women didn’t accept responsibility for each other to make sure we accomplish mitzvos, at Har Gerizim and Har Eival when we received the blessings and curses before entering the land. According to this opinion a man cannot fulfill a mitzvah for a woman, like kiddush or megilla, if he already fulfilled the mitzvah himself. He can’t do the mitzvah again.

B. Reading the megilla publicises the miracle. There is a mitzvah you get when publicizing the miracle.

 Answer: In the Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim first part chapter 190) Rav Moshe says that by megilla reading one who already read can help others fulfill the mitzvah even without the concept of arvus since the reading is to publicize the miracle and one who already fulfilled the mitzvah of reading still has a mitzvah to publicize the miracle as much as possible, so he still considered part of the mitzvah and can help others fulfill the mitzvah of reading megilla even if the concept of arvus doesn’t apply to them (See Dirshu Mishna Berura in back page 127, footnote 10).

Torah Riddles Test #174

1. Question: Why does one have to stand with the baal korei when he is saying the blessings on the megilla for you but he does not have to stand with the baal tefilla when he is saying the blessing for the omer for you?


A. Rav Dovid Cohen based on the teachings of the Chazon Ish said that the concept of “listening is like saying” is not just that he is saying it for you but by listening it’s as if you are saying it yourself.

B. Part of the mitzvah of saying the omer with the blessings is standing, just as hearing what’s being said is part of the mitzvah.

 C. One can technically sit when reciting and definitely listening to the megilla but should stand when saying the blessings.

 D. The concept of “listening is like saying” (שומע כעונה) applies to the mitzvah that the other is helping you fulfill but, for example people should stand during chazaras hashatz according to the Rema 124:4 out of respect for the blessings the chazzan is reciting when repeating shemone essay out loud and by doing so it’s as if the congregation says it based on “listening is like saying”.

Answer: By the omer since standing is part of the mitzvah so if the chazzan stands for you then you fulfill the mitzvah but by megilla the standing isn’t part of the mitzvah, you can really sit but out of respect for the blessing everyone should stand so it does not help if the one saying the megilla stands for you (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 690 footnote 2).

Torah Riddles Test #22

  1. Question: Why would you say both the paragraphs for Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh In benching at seuda shlishit if you bentched by night fall of a Shabbos where Rosh Chodesh starts that night but if Purim is on Friday and your Purim seuda runs into Shabbos then you only say the paragraph of Shabbos and not Purim in bentching?


 A. The Mishna Berura in 188:33 says the reason you say both by a Shabbos leading into Rosh Chodesh is because the paragraph for Shabbos is going on the beginning of the meal then we say the paragraph of Rosh Chodesh (or Yom Tov) afterwards which goes on the second half of the meal. However according to that logic you should say both paragraphs when Purim goes into Shabbos?

B. There is a rabbinic concept called Tosefes Shabbos, adding on to the Shabbos before and after.

Answer: On Shabbos going into Rosh Chodesh there is actually additional minutes going into Rosh Chodesh so can say that when bentching it was for one half of the meal and then for the other half because Shabbos could have been pushed off longer to when they were ready to bentch and then it leads into Rosh Chodesh but once nightfall comes Purim is done and over, even if the meal started during the day so when bentching it is only Shabbos therefore only the paragraph of Shabbos is said. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura note 32 in 695:3:15.)

Torah Riddles Test #21

  1. Question: Why isn’t a Megillah muktzah, according to the Pri Megadim and Elya Rabba, if Shushan Purim falls out on Shabbos just as a lulav and esrog on Shabbos Sukkos or a shofar on Shabbos Rosh HaShana?


A. The Mishna Berura (688:6:15) explains the reason why they don’t read Megillah on Shabbos of Purim mishulash is because the Rabbis decreed not to lest someone will go to a sage to learn how to read it and will walk four amos in the public domain.

B. The Pri Chodosh argues and says a Megillah is muktzah on the Shabbos of Shushan Purim (mishulash) because since one cannot fulfill the mitzvah of Megillah on that day then he takes his mind away from using it and makes it muktzah in his eyes.

Answer: It is a Sefer, or scroll which people can learn from, so just like any other time of the year one can use it even in Shabbos so to on this Shabbos as well it is not muktzah and could be used if you want to look something up or learn from it. But a shofar is an instrument and a lulav has no use besides for the mitzvah so they are muktzah on Shabbos.