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








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Opinion & Comment
Despite Everything, It is Purim!

By HaRav Mordechai Shmuel Krull

HaRav Mordechai Shmuel Krull zt'l, the first rav of Kfar Chassidim (Rechasim) in northern Eretz Yisroel (and formerly rav and av beis din of Zurevitz and Novogrod-Sovarsk in Russia) wrote this essay before Purim in the midst of the dreadful churban of Europe -- but its relevance is evident for us too. He urges the reader to learn from Megillas Esther the lesson of bitochon that Hashem will save us. Furthermore, we should realize a proven fact of history: Am Yisroel are oppressed because of their aveiros. The solution is therefore only through tefillah, teshuvah, and improving ourselves spiritually. This article was printed in Masa Damesek, a compilation of the author's droshos and articles that includes essays on contemporary problems.

These are troubled times when savage animals have opened wide their mouths to swallow us alive, and the sighs and groans of our brethren reach us from all corners of the world. Our period is one of devastating news, and harsh decrees are constantly being hurled on us. The coarse world with its filthy hands has launched a competition between the countries who will succeed in choking the "eternal nation." We are like thorns in their flesh since our existence symbolizes the victory of the spiritual over the brutal, and our nation's continuity is a living protest against despotism.

The Jewish Nation is a source of discontentment for all the different Amoleikian countries, and even for the best of them . . .. Unadulterated Judaism does not refrain from revealing the hidden hoofs of all the various refined "gentlemen." This is the secret of their fathers and fathers' fathers hatred to our fathers and fathers' fathers, and this is precisely the reason of their present hatred toward us.

Nevertheless it is Purim!

"Just as when Av begins we decrease our simchah, so when Adar begins we increase our simchah" (Taanis 29a). Purim is the day Hashem set to proclaim to the world the futility of attempts by the rabble, the various Amolekites and their advisors, to destroy us. All of their designs to prevent us from growing are unavailing. Hashem laughs at their decrees and their energetic efforts and plans. Victory is ultimately ours.

Haman and his cohorts do not exist anymore. If not for the nation that Haman desired to obliterate, who mention him in the Megillah amidst noise and banging, ironically enough, no memory of him would remain. Instead of the enemies of the Jews subduing the Jews, the opposite has occurred.

You have no better example than Purim of Hashem's salvation and His Hashgochoh protis, to console us in our despondence and helplessness. Perhaps you will ask the obvious? Do we lack examples? Have not many miracles happened to us throughout history? Why, for instance, are we not solaced by Chag HaPesach, that commemorates our exodus from Egypt, when Hashem miraculously took one nation out from another's midst with Divine signs and wonders? Undoubtedly all of the Torah's principles are based on yetzias Mitzrayim.

But yetzias Mitzrayim showed us, through Hashem's Hashgochoh, that to become "a kingdom of Cohanim and a holy nation" (Shemos 19:6) we must first leave Egypt. We dare not rely upon others. We must ascend to Eretz Yisroel and live independently without being enslaved. Indeed we say Hallel on Pesach, since we have become servants of Hashem and not of Pharaoh.

Our current situation has worsened tremendously. We are scattered among all nations and we are "slaves of Achashverosh." The rulers of these countries continue to place obstacles in our way at every turn. How can we hearten ourselves so that we will not despair?

Perhaps the miracle of Chanukah will strengthen our spirits. For on Chanukah Hashem "delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous" (Al Hanissim). Doubtless this was an exceptional miracle. Moreover, the cruse of olive oil that the Maccabees found continues to shine for us from the midst of our darkness. That light, once kindled in the Beis Hamikdash, will continue to burn and never be extinguished. It will illuminate the whole world.

During the era of the events of Chanukah we lived entirely differently than we do today. We dwelled in our own land, in our homes, and in our own country. Only the wicked Greek government attempted to force us to accept its ignoble ideology and to depart from our living Torah. After the House of the Chashmonaim overpowered the Greeks and drove them out of our land and purified the land of the Greek tumah, they also cast out those of us who had became Hellenized. Afterward we remained in Eretz Yisroel and continued our lives in the land that Hashem had bequeathed to our forefathers.

What comfort can we draw from Chanukah for our brethren who are rotting in the Bolshevik desolation, in the confounded fascist countries, or in the darkness of all the countries in golus governed by tyrants and reshoim? What power do we have, at a time when we are all sitting on top of a volcano that is liable to burst at any moment and open its crater to swallow us alive?

Purim comes to comfort us at such a time! The circumstances at the time of Purim, when we lived under the Persian government controlled by that foolish king Achashverosh, were not better, if not worse, than today. Not only were we not considered a nation, we were not even considered human beings. We were like clay in the hands of the king. If he was generously inclined, he let us live; and if he was not, he would sell us as slaves or kill us. The Jewish Nation was dispersed among the one hundred and twenty-seven nations.

The spiritual level of the Jews at that time was not spectacular either. Many of them took part in the feast of the rosho Achashverosh. Not only did they participate, they were allowed to come close to the nation that ruled over all these countries. How bitter was their fate when, on that hapless day, the gezeiroh was sealed with the king's signet ring!

It seemed they had lost all hope. They presumed that soon am Yisroel would be something taught about in history books. Nonetheless, the hand of Hashgochoh transformed Purim from a day of mourning into a yom tov, and from darkness into dazzling radiance. If so, we can do away with our despondency!

Although all other yomim tovim cannot encourage us in our unprecedentedly pitiful situation, Purim does have that power. "Just as when Av begins (the month when Rome exiled us from our land to wander throughout the world) we decrease our simchah, so when Adar begins (the month when Hashem showed us that even when our enemies attempt to destroy us He protects us) we increase our simchah." Despite the persecutions and shmad decrees, the conspiracies of all the Amolekites and enemies, we will increase our simchah. They will see that even in such a situation we can rejoice, and our patience to wait for the fall of our enemies has not been marred. "Shoshanas Yaakov tzoholoh vesomeichoh."

Every year when Purim would approach, the Alter of Novardok zt'l spoke about Purim and its chain of events. "What would the Jewish leaders do today," he would ask, "if an order were given to destroy, chas vesholom, the Jews? If our situation were exactly like theirs and the queen were a Jewess who loves her nation, and all the other details, what would we do?

"Absolutely the first thing done would be to hold a meeting and choose a delegation to appear before the queen -- 'Our sister in the king's house' (Megillah 15b). We would proclaim our devotion to the 'motherland' and the government, and stress the fact that every Shabbos we pray publicly for the government. Afterwards the delegation would pay visits to all the ministers and even to the less important government figures, while 'just happening' to leave gifts as tokens of our 'love.'

"But what did Mordechai do? Did he act that way? Not at all! 'When Mordechai perceived all that was done, Mordechai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried out with a loud and a bitter cry' (Esther 4:1). He did not solicit the king for mercy, he did not dispatch delegations to the ministers, and did not even remind the queen of her duty to help. `The queen was exceedingly distressed' (Esther 4:4) when she heard that all the Jews were fasting. She asked Mordechai what was happening and he told her about the gezeiroh. When she tried to avoid appearing before the king he did not even try to persuade her. Instead Mordechai told her pungently that appearing before the king was to her personal benefit, since if she did not go the Jews would be saved by someone else. It was purely to her own benefit to help.

"And what is the real reason Mordechai did not use conventional means and discuss the Jews' fate with government officials and the like? The candid answer is quite simple. 'A person does not raise his finger below if Above it is not proclaimed that this should be done' (Chulin 7b). Chazal are teaching us that even raising one's finger is an act of Hashgochoh protis. Discriminating against an entire nation, and especially against Am Yisroel, is not something that can be done simply and naturally.

"Was there then any hope to plead before that foolish king? Was he the one who made the gezeiroh? Was he not only the pickaxe in the hand of the quarryman, the instrument of the King of Kings?

"Mordechai therefore directed his efforts straight to the source. He began imploring Hashem, assembled all the children and engaged in Torah study while wearing sackcloth and fasting. That is the proven way to achieve results, and through it, in fact, he succeeded."

After remembering the Alter's truthful guidance, I look around and see what is happening today. The gezeiroh to annihilate the Jews has been publicly known to have been actually implemented for five months. The whole world is silent, not saying a word. We heard that the heads of the League of Nations long ago asked the Jewish Agency's administration to institute ways to save the Jews. The latter rebuked the League for "bothering them about European Jewry when it is building a motherland." (For whom will this motherland be if Klal Yisroel, is, chas vesholom, annihilated? For whom are they preparing the motherland? Nonetheless, one does not ask questions of those for whom even a hint is sufficient . . . .)

The Jewish Agency's stand had repercussions throughout the Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisroel. People argued in the marketplaces and the streets. As usual, some supported the position while others opposed it. The truth of the matter is that we do not have to wonder about the other nations, who see what is going on and have remained quiet. Who was greater among the nations than Iyov? Yet the gemora (Sotah 11b) tells us that Iyov was present when the decision was made in Egypt to kill the male children of bnei Yisroel, and he remained silent.

It seems that no conflict is encountered when a nation allows Jewish blood to be spilled; it is still considered to be a benign, righteous nation. Even the heads of the Jewish Agency, although they present themselves as being the custodians of "love for Jews," fervently proclaim that engaging in establishing a motherland is more important than saving the lives of millions of Jews. We have no one to argue with, and should be thankful that they are at least forthright about their intents.

The question is how the leaders of Agudas Yisroel have acted. We understand they discussed with the Jewish Agency the systematic annihilation being done by that rosho in the conquered countries. We can, of course, infer from this fact that they knew what is going on, or at least part of what was going on. If so, why did they hide this news from the general public? Why did they not shake Heaven and earth with their tefillos? Did they believe that davening to Hashem is only a mitzvas aseih shehazman groma to bring about the retreat of Rommel?

Perhaps they thought that a public protest can only be carried out by all parts of the nation. Do they think that our salvation can come--and will come--through the nations? Can someone imagine that the lunatic from Berchtesgaden [i.e., Hitler ym'sh] does what he does simply according to his own volition? Do we have the slightest doubt of this being a punishment from Heaven brought about by Hashgochoh? The posuk, "That which comes into your mind" (Yechezkel 20:32), with all its dreadful happenings, is taking place. We are beholding the fulfillment of, "As I live, says Hashem Elokim, surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with anger poured out, will I be King over you" (ibid., ibid., 33). We should have immediately focused our tefillos and entreaties to the Ruler of the World. It was necessary to proclaim fasts and cry out to Hashem to annul the gezeiroh.

Instead of discussing means with all the "influential" parties, we should pay attention to the need to awaken the nation to do teshuvah. Is this not the perfect time to open the eyes of the Jews in our camp, to show them how the Enlightenment has ravaged the nation? It is the time to return to the sources of Judaism, to educate children al taharas hakodesh. Now more than ever is the time to do this, when a sharp sword is placed on the neck of the Jews. At this time we should gather the children and educate them and guide them according to the Torah's radiance. Why do we not feel turmoil among the Torah-observant? Why are we using all other ways: requesting help from the representatives of the nations, from the leaders of all religions, from every ruler, but we do not realize that we must ask help from our Father in Heaven? Does this not show that our own camp is not as it should be?

Chazal (Megillah 12a) explain that the Jews in the time of Purim were decreed for annihilation since they partook from the meal of that rosho. Chazal did not find any more probable reason for Haman, the political leader and oppressor of Jewry, to reach a decision to proceed with his plans. They searched for the real reason for his gaining power. The reason was the nation's sin. We, on the other hand, are ashamed to declare openly that we have sinned, and therefore this tragedy has befallen us.

Our protest should not end with the mere decision that we should protest. We must direct our protest only to the correct address: to Hashem and to ourselves. We must do teshuvah!

With resumed enthusiasm we must go out to the streets and cry bitterly about the tens of thousands of pure neshomos, children of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov, who are being lost because of the poisonous and destructive education they are being given.

A certain rav commented appropriately that if we mourn over the children in the conquered countries who are being destroyed by oppressors and wild animals, why are we not mourning over the eighty thousand children here in Eretz Yisroel who are abandoning us for all eternity?

Surely, in the natural course of events we do not have any hope for exceptional success, but we are not free from making efforts in that direction. First of all, even if we save one Jewish soul it is as if we have saved a whole world (Bovo Basra 11a). Second, "Do not be disdainful of anything" (Ovos 4:3). In many matters Chazal say, "Open for Me a hole like a needle's eye. . ." (Chulin 7b), so we cannot know beforehand what will happen. Hashem's help can come in an unexpected way.

Mordechai too, had he acted according to simple logic he would not have done what he did. The great power of Jewish children, whose mouths are pure, is enough to vanquish the biggest enemy. Who defeated the Caesar Nero, whose tyranny was limitless, who had conquered the whole world, and to whom even Heaven had hinted that Yerushalayim would be handed over to him?

A small child vanquished him. "He asked a Jewish child what posuk he knew. The child answered, 'I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Yisroel' " (Yechezkel 25:14). He said: 'HaKodosh Boruch Hu wants to destroy His house and wipe His hands on me.' He fled and converted" (Gittin 56a). This is our only ammunition, and this is the target.

Will the heads of the Torah-true community pay attention to this?

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