Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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12 Adar 5761 - March 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Purim Torah: To be Told Between the Third and Fourth Cup

By S. Lukover

As heard from HaGaon HaRav Reb Moishe Shiah Turnheim zt"l, grandson of the Lukover Rebbe

When we analyze the story of the Megilla, we are left with three very difficult questions:

1. The evil Haman, who was literally the king's second-in- command and who had almost unlimited power at his disposal, could not sit back and enjoy his puissance; in fact, he even called an emergency "Cabinet" meeting with his wife, Zeresh, and all his cohorts to discuss the serious problem at hand: one nebbachdike, scrawny Jew (after a few days' fasting and in his sackcloth he certainly didn't look his best), by the name of Mordechai, refused to prostrate himself before him. What was the big deal? One blow of the sword and all would be set straight.

But instead, his cadre of advisors came up with a most original answer: To build a gallows 50 cubits high. Why fifty? A height of forty or even thirty cubits would be sufficient to allow all residents of Shushan a graphic view. What was the point of building such a high gallows?

2. The second difficulty is: why do we eat oznei Haman, Haman's ears? Why not, for example, his nose? (From pictures that we have from medieval illuminated Megillas, it seems that Haman's nose was quite a sight indeed.)

3. Why is it that the cities that were encircled by walls since the days of Yehoshua bin Nun celebrate Shushan Purim, on 15 Adar? What is the connection between Yehoshua and Purim?

Actually, the answer to all three questions comes from one source. Haman was the physical descendant and spiritual devotee of Am Yisrael's archenemy, Amolek. In keeping with this legacy he understood that the "final solution to the Jewish problem" necessitated more fundamental measures than simply killing Mordechai. He therefore called a meeting with Zeresh and all his advisors, during the course of which he was given the background details of Yisrael's eternal battle with Amolek, which began with the father of all prophets, Moshe Rabbeinu.

Haman was notified of Yehoshua's role in the destruction of Amolek, which was worded in a most unusual way: "Hashem said to Moshe: . . . and put it in the ears of Yehoshua for I will totally obliterate the memory of Amolek from under the heavens" (Shemos 17:14).

Haman, in his great "wisdom" saw the battle between Amolek and the Jews as beginning with the ears of Yehoshua bin Nun -- and that explains why the gallows had to be fifty or "nun" cubits high. (The numerical value of the letter nun is fifty.) That also explains why we consume Haman's ears, in commemoration of that first war with Amolek. And of course that also resolves the question why Shushan Purim is celebrated only in cities which had a wall around them since the time of Yehoshua bin Nun--because that was where the struggle began!

Further elaboration will be forthcoming following the fourth cup. Meanwhile have a freilechen Purim!

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