Divrei Yoel - Purim

Adapted by Zefanyah Yosef Porter

1. The Rebbe makes a very pointed comment regarding the Purim story. He explains (Divrei Yoel "Chanukah," p.339), quoting the passuk "many of the people converted to Judaism, for the fear of the Jews was upon them," that we know that the miracles of that time came about only from sources of holiness. How do we know this? The proof, explains the Rebbe, is that many people were brought to conversion through the miracles. Since they were brought close to Hashem, His Torah, and all holy things, it is impossible that the miracles came from any source other than the side of holiness, because miracles from the "sitra achra" (the side of impurity) do not bring people toward holiness. Even in a generation when it truly seems as though Hashem is shining His face toward the side of the evildoers, we must remember that this is only a test of our faith. In reality, Hashem is on our side, and any miracles that seem to be happening for the non-believers are, in truth, merely miracles emanating from the side of evil, and no one will be brought genuinely closer to Hashem by means of events stemming from wickedness.

This is an exceedingly important message for us to internalize in today's times. Even when it seems as though miracles are performed for the heretics, or that the heretics are drawing estranged Jews back to Torah and mitzvos, we must look through the facade and understand what is really occurring. These miracles are brought about only through satanic forces of impurity, and anyone who becomes a "ba'al teshuvah" upon witnessing these miracles is, in truth, not returning to Hashem, but is being consumed by the fires of heresy. When the Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, was approached by people who claimed that the activites of the Zionists must have been given the seal of approval from Above, in light of the many "ba'alei tesuvah" produced by the Zionist movement, the Rebbe set the record straight, stating simply: "Shabsi Tzvi also had many ba'alei teshuvah."

The truth is that the Zionists do not even believe in miracles, and so when they hype their accomplishments as "divine miracles," they themselves do not truly believe it. The Minchas Elazar (Darchei Chaim V'shalom "Minhagei Ta'anis Tzibbur," Siman 654 in a footnote) explains this. He says that the Zionists wish to deny belief in the fact that Moshiach will come by way of miracles, claiming instead that Moshiach will come through natural means. This mentality is a hallmark of the Zionists, and before them, it was a hallmark of the maskilim. The world view and championed causes of the Zionists all point to this misguided mindset of "kochi v'otzem yadi," I got myself everything in life, and without question this terribly destructive, satanical form of idolatry lives on today in numerous forms. This mentality is truly the working of the Satan, and surely, no one can come close to Hashem through the actions of people with such a philosophy.

When the Jews in the time of the Purim story prevailed over their enemies through holiness, in a war directed by Hashem and commanded by the righteous leaders of Klal Yisroel, we came to a time when Hashem's Holy Name was sanctified, and through the tremendous holiness generated, a great fear fell upon many non-Jews, who were persuaded to attach themselves to the Jewish people. This was an incredible display of divine strength, making apparent to all that the Jewish people will live on forever, as Hashem's people, as long as they attach themselves to Him.

We must strengthen ourselves against the winds of heresy that blow in a frenzied gale these days. These negative forces are incredibly strong. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, states that an ehrliche Yid living in Eretz Yisroel should make Birchas Hagomel every day if he is not influenced by the Zionist heresy. (Of course, the Rebbe probably does not mean this literally, but rather in concept.) These forces are only here to test us. The Satmar Rebbe, ZY"A, (Kuntres Chiddushei Torah 5716 / 1956) explained that while ehrliche Yidden were saved from the fires of the Holocaust in order to build the next Torah-true generation, the Zionists were saved in order to test us, and of course, it is our job to refuse to be intimidated by these challenges and to pass the tests that are put before us.

2. In Divrei Yoel (Shmini p.225), the Satmar Rebbe ZY"A cites the Midrash (Ester Rabbasi 282), which teaches us the following: R' Yehudah bar R' Simon said that Achashveirosh's feast was a seudah of products from Eretz Yisroel. We learn that it was actually Haman who came up with and implemented this idea for the king's feast. Haman's intention was to entice the Jews to participate in the feast and through their participation, bring them to idolatry. We learned previously ("Divrei Yoel on the Parashah" for Parashas Ki Sisa) that Achashveirosh's intent in persuading the Jews to attend and enjoy themselves at his feast was to seduce them into idol worship. Haman cleverly disguised this intent by using the name "Eretz Yisroel" to make the Jews feel comfortable and at home. In truth, however, this was nothing more than a plot to ensnare the Jewish people into committing one of the worst aveiros on the planet.

Understanding that the true intention of Achashveirosh's feast was to bring the Jews to idolatry, we can perforce understand the severity of the punishment for attending the banquet: Haman's decree of destruction. Normally aveiros involving forbidden foods would not carry such a severe punishment, but this was not all that was amiss at the feast. The severe prohibition of idolatry was also involved; therefore, the punishment was of a very harsh nature.

Another point worth noting is that while Chazal tell us that essentially all the Jews attended the feast, there was one who did not: Mordechai Hatzaddik. Not only did Mordechai not attend, but he decried the feast, seeing it for what it truly was. What was the response from the public? A deaf ear and even opposition. This teaches us an important lesson. Even when everyone around us is "going to an idolatrous feast," we must never compromise our Torah principles, even if it means facing an entire world of opposition. We must stand strong, no matter what those around us are doing, and through this steadfast adherence to Torah, we will merit, in the words of the Megillah (8: 16): "orah, v' simcha, v'sasson, v'yikar," light, joy, gladness, and honor. Amein!