Tzav-Purim 5771-2011

“Shabbat and Purim”

This year, the festival of Purim begins at the conclusion of Shabbat. A careful review of the Book of Esther reveals a number of fascinating connections between the story of Purim and the holy day of Shabbat.

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Toledot 5768-2007

"Esau's Loud and Bitter Cry"

When Esau realizes that he has been deceived of his blessing, he lets out a loud and bitter cry. Our commentators struggle to understand the cause and repercussions of this bitter cry. Some of the commentators suggest that all future generations pay for causing undue pain to Esau, expressed in his loud and bitter cry.

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Kee Tavo 5767-2007

"Can the Promise of G-d Keep the People Holy?"

Before delivering the admonition, Moses conveys the blessings of G-d to the Jewish people, including the blessing that G-d will establish His people to be a holy nation to Him. The Haamek Davar sees these words as G-d's promise to protect those who are faithful to Him, even though they may be involved in mundane communal affairs. Is this blessing a foolproof guarantee?

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Chukat-Balak 5762-2002

"The Paradox of the Red Heifer"

In the first of this week's two parashiot, parashat Chukat, we read of the paradox of the Red Heifer whose ashes were used to purify those who were ritually contaminated. The Red Heifer rendered those who were impure, pure, and those that were pure, impure. Perhaps it is teaching us that there is a significant price to pay for trying to improve others. But, we must be prepared to pay that price. It is, after all, the only way to achieve ultimate perfection.

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Kee Tisah-Purim 5762-2002

"The Story of Esther--Making Choices for Jewish Destiny"

When Esther receives the report that Mordechai is leading a great mourning and wailing, she is thrown into a panic. Some commentators regard Esther's reaction as a personal failure on the Queen's part to rise to the challenge. In effect, Esther respond's to Mordechai's appeal by saying "Do you expect me to risk my life and compromise my lofty position for the Jewish people?" Mordechai's response to Esther strikes a sensitive chord. Despite her initial reluctance, Esther redeems herself, fulfills her mission brilliantly, and goes on to become one of the great heroic figures of Jewish history.

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