Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Purim-Finding Hashem

When you listen to a speech, the speaker may never know how his words impacted you. When you read a book or article, the author may never know how his writing touched you. However, R' Shimshon Pincus zt"l can see exactly how his powerful and inspiring words gave me such a tremendous amount of chizuk. I don't need to track him down, try to find a phone number or email address to thank him and let him know how his seforim are changing my perspective, are changing me. He can see it himself from his lofty place in the olam ha'emes. And that gives me great comfort.

I want to share some of the inspiration I gained from his words with you.

One point we emphasize on Purim is v'nahapoch hu. This concept requires some understanding and clarification.

Rabban Gamliel, R' Elazar ben Azarya and R' Yehoshua came into Rome and started to cry when they heard the loud, happy voices of the Romans there. R' Akiva's response to that was...laughter.

They asked R' Akiva, "How could you laugh?"

"Why are you crying?"

"The goyim who are ovdei avoda zara, idol worshippers, are sitting comfortably while our beis hamikdosh was destroyed! How could we NOT cry?"

Said R' Akiva, "Im kein l'macheesav, kal vachomer l'osei retzono, if this is what happens to those who anger Hashem, how much more will the reward be for those who do His will!"

In another instance, they were walking together and when they reached Har Habayis, they saw a fox coming out of the place of the Kodesh Hakadashim. They began crying and once again, R' Akiva started to laugh.

A similar exchange followed.

"How could you laugh at such a sight?"

"Why are you crying?"

"The same place that it says v'hazor hakareiv yumas, if a stranger approaches it he must be put to death, is now free with roaming fox...just like it says al har tzion sheshameim shualim hilchu ba-the fox will walk on the desolation of the mountain of tzion. How could we NOT cry?

R' Akiva said, "For this reason I laugh. If Hashem fulfilled the prophecies of punishment and destruction, I am confident that He will also fulfill the prophecies of reward and ultimate geulah."

To which they replied, "Akiva, nichamtanu, you have comforted us."

There are two ways to relate to the things we have.

Imagine you are a guest at someone's home. You come in to the kitchen and you see a plate with ten slices of delicious looking cake. You can look at this in two ways.

Either you can think, the host set up the cake on the tray and it happens to be that one slice is for me to take. 

Or you can think, wow...this host loves me so much! Look at how he set up all these slices of cake for me! Really, he meant to give me a personal gift-delicious cake to eat. He could have just put one slice on the tray...because that would be enough for me to eat. But he put another nine slices so that it should be pleasant and comfortable for me and I shouldn't feel like I'm lacking anything!

Every moment that a person is alive, he receives an incredible gift-fresh air. And with that air a person is able to breathe from minute to minute. How does a person view this? How should a person view this?

Either a person can say, look Hashem gives everyone air so that they can breathe and it happens to be that He gives me air too.

Or...a person can say, look at how much Hashem loves me! He gives me this air personally, specifically for me. But just so that I should feel like I'm not lacking anything, He gives air to everyone else around me...

This is how Hashem hides Himself within nature, within our world. Everything He gives you is an expression of the love He has for you. 

Imagine you go to the grocery store to pick up a bottle of milk. When you get to the refrigerator section, you see 500 bottles of milk on the shelf. 

Either you can think, there is enough milk in this store for me and all the people in my neighborhood who need milk to drink.

Or...you can think, wow, Hashem wants me to have everything I need. So instead of me finding just the one bottle of milk that I need for my family, there are another 499 bottles of milk in the refigerator...just so I should feel like I'm not lacking anything! Hashem is hiding Himself in the teva of this world. He hides Himself among the rest of the bottles of milk on the shelf. But really, that one bottle of milk is a personal gift from Hashem to me.

A person can find Hashem in every single thing that happens, in every single moment of His life. Hashem hides himself in nature. But...He's really there. We just have to learn to look out for Him and notice all the good that He gives us...in the regular, daily things that we experience.

The word megillah comes from the lashon of l'galos, to reveal. All the other yomim tovim are meant to help us rise above nature to a more elevated, lofty level. We do this through the mitzvos of the day-shofar on Rosh Hashana, matzah on Pesach...

But Purim is different.

On Purim we learn that Hashem is right here with us, within the teva. If we take notice, we can see that Hashem is really there-hiding in nature itself. When we internalize this message, we can strengthen our connection to Hashem and increase the love we have for Him, realizing how much He does for us and how involved He is in every detail of our personal lives-all because He loves us! 

We can take this message from Megillas Esther.

In the beginning of the megillah, we read about Achashveirosh and how he sat on his new throne in Shushan, the new capital. Why did He set up his kingdom in Shushan if the kings before him were established in Bavel?

Achashveirosh wanted to sit on the throne of Shlomo Hamelech. It was beautiful, majestic and had animals on each step that would lift Shlomo up to the next step. However, any king before him who tried to sit on it got hurt from the animals. So he had carpenters make one for him that was exactly like the throne of Shlomo Hamelech. But once it was completed, it was too heavy to move anywhere. So Achashveirosh decided to move his entire capital over to Shushan, the place where his throne was. Who moves his entire kingdom, all his ministers and advisors just like that? And why did he do this? Because Mordechai Hatzaddik lived in Shushan. So Hashem made Achashveirosh move everything around just so that one tzaddik should be able to say in his place. This is but one example of how Hashem and His hashgacha is revealed through the story outlined in the megillah.

This is also why Hashem's name is not mentioned once in the megillah. If Hashem's name was spelled out, it would be removing Him from teva and saying how He performed a miracle above nature. However, by Hashem being "hidden" in every step of the Purim story, we learn to look out for him in this seemingly "regular" story. In the story that doesn't mention him. And we can take this message to heart. We must realize that Hashem is with us at every point. He is here with us-in the natural, in the regular, in the routine.  

The message of v'nahapoch hu is that everything you see in the teva, everything that seems like it is natural really is not. Each of these things are an expression of Hashem's love for us! Yes, it may seem like nature, but if you look just a teeny bit deeper, you can find Hashem in the regular things that happen. The air you breathe from is a personal gift from Hashem. He is pumping blood through your veins and through your body every second of the day-because He wants you in His world.

And this is why R' Akiva was able to laugh when all the others cried. He was able to find Hashem in the places where they couldn't. He was able to see the upside-down. How things weren't the way they seemed. He was able to explain with clarity when the others were confused. And that's how he was able to comfort them. By seeing things with an eye that looks out for the v'nahapoch hu. He was able to turns those things around and explain that Hashem really IS here with us.

And this is what v'nahapoch hu means. 

May you be able to realize what precious gifts you are given from Hashem, because He loves you and because He wants you to FEEL His love for you personally. May you be able to internalize the messages of the megillah by seeing how just like Hashem is revealed through the regular happenings in the Purim story, He can be revealed to you in your own life. You just have to look out for him.


  1. wow devoiry! u did it again! thank u! keep it up and good luck! its a real amazing piece!( just like all the others:) )

  2. I think we see it in the people we meet, too. I think when we meet someone - when we have someone new in our life - Hashem is taking care of us. He is sending that person to us for a reason. We don't always see it or realize it, but I think it's always true.


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