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During the Second Temple, the Greek empire reigned (over Israel),1 and they (the Greeks) passed decrees against the Jews and (tried) to erase their religion, and did not allow them to carry out Torah (study) or the commandments. They put their hands on their property and their daughters. They entered the Temple, destroyed and made the pure unclean. The Jews were in great distress because of them and were much oppressed, until the G-d of their fathers had mercy on them, delivering them from their hands and saving them. Then overcame, the sons of the Hasmonean High Priest, (the Greeks) and killed them and saved the Jews from their hands. They appointed a king from the Priests, and the kingdom of Israel was restored for more than 200 years until the destruction of (the) second (Temple). When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them, it was the 25th of Kislev2 when they entered the Sanctuary (inner room) and did not find pure (olive) oil in the Temple, except one jar sealed with seal of the High Priest, and it did not contain enough to light except for one day only. But they lit from it the lamps of the Menorah3 for eight days, until they could crush olives and produce a (new quantity) of pure oil. For these reasons, decreed the Sages of that generation that these eight days that begin on the 25th Kislev, will be days of joy and praise. One lights on them lamps at evening at the entrance to the houses, every evening of the eight nights to show off and demonstrate the miracle. These days are called ''Hanukah'' that is to say ''they rested'' (chanu) on the ''25'' ('th of the month) because on the 25th they rested from their enemies. and also because of those days they (re)-dedicated the house (Temple) which their foes had defiled. Also some say that it is a commandment to increase slightly the festive meals on Hanukah. Another reason is because the work of (building) the Sanctuary (in the desert) was completed in these days. One should tell one's children the story of the miracles that were done for our fore-fathers in those days, (see Josephus) However, these meals are not considered as part of the commandment unless one says at the meal songs of praise. One should increase charity in these Hanukah days, for this can help mend any defects in our souls. This charity, should be given particularly to poor Torah scholars. (KSA 139:1)
1) 352 BCE until 70 CE
2) 139 BCE
3) The Menorah was made of gold and had seven branches.
The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.
This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.
Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.
As we have discussed on a number of occasions, the juxtaposition of certain parshios to certain events in the calendar is no coincidence and there is often an underlying message to be found. In almost every non-leap year, the Shabbos before Purim, Shabbas Zachor, falls out on parshas Tetzaveh. In anomalous years such as this, it falls out on Terumah, with Purim itself running right up against Tetzaveh (or on it, for Shushan Purim.) There must be a connection between these parshios and Purim.
As we know, HaShem's name is completely missing from the text of the megillah. But I find that in addition to that, the megillah also lacks a strong historical context. From the text itself, we know very little about the story's place in history, what preceded it, what followed it, and even some explanation of the events recounted. Who was Achashveirosh? What was his relationship with the Jews? What was his party all about? Perhaps the only inkling of historical context in the megillah is the brief biography of Mordechai, in which we are told that he was part of the final exile at the end of the first Temple. For "the rest of the story," we must turn to our sages.
Over the course of the megillah, we go to great lengths to demonize the evil Haman, and rightfully so. We make loud noises at the mere sound of his name and then stick in a good curse for him and his wife in the Shoshanas Yaakov song that follows the reading. But what about Achashveirosh? Where does he fit in? There's no mention of him in the song. And we certainly don't make noise for him. (Would the reading ever end if we did?) But we are told in the gemara that the Jews had already begun rebuilding the beis haMikdash. It was Achashveirosh who put an abrupt halt to the reconstruction. There was a well-known prophecy by both Yirmiyahu and Daniel that the Jews would go through 70 years of exile after which they would return to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild the beis haMikdash. Belshatzar, a previous ruler, had come to the conclusion that 70 years had passed and rejoiced that the prophecy would not come true. His calculation was erroneous and he was dead by the next morning. Achashveirosh made some adjustments to the calculation and determined that now according to his enhanced calculation, which would also prove to be erroneous, the 70 years had passed and there was no more hope for the Jews (Megillah 11b.) This was the cause for celebration. The keilim mikeilim shonim (1:7) were in fact the vessels of the beis haMikdash.
It is understandable that Esther could not have written anything in the megillah itself that would shed a negative light on her husband, the king. But the midrashim make it quite clear what Achashveirosh was all about. Perhaps the juxtaposition of parshios Terumah and Tetzaveh are meant to help preserve that historical context. We spend two complete parshios detailing the beauty and the splendour of the mishkan and the men who were tasked with doing its work. That special beauty was even enhanced in the edifice constructed by Shelomoh to be the permanent dwelling place of the Holy Presence. After nearly 70 years since its destruction, we were ever so close to getting it back. The beauty and the splendour would return once again. The story of Esther chronicles the hurdles and obstacles we needed to overcome to finally reach that moment.
Purim samei'ach and good Shabbos!
Mishenichnas Adar marbim be'simchah