Moshe & Purim Part One
Transcribed and prepared by Anna Beller: The Gemara said that when Haman threw his lottery and it came out on Adar he rejoiced because he believed it was a month of bad luck for the Jews because it’s the month Moshe Rabbeinu passed away. It was considered an auspicious sign for his plan to eliminate the Jewish people.
There are a number of important concepts the Gemara introduces that goes against everything or most things you read about Purim:
First, what does Moshe Rabbeinu have to do with Purim? Every month of the year will be a yahrtzeit of someone. Every month of the year will automatically be a bad month for the Jews unless there is direct correlation to the death of Moshe Rabbeinu, and what Haman, a descendent of Amalek would see as a potential for his success. It’s not just in one place where the Gemara implies there’s a connection between the death of Moshe and the success of Amalek, and vice versa, the success of Moshe and destruction of Amalek.
Another place is the Gemara in Chullin that goes like this: Esther min hatorah minayim. Where do you find an allusion to Esther in the torah? The Gemara says because the verse says: Veanochi haesther astir panei mihem – the Jews don’t serve me with joy then I will surely hide My face from them. Hasther Asthir– it uses the word Hasther –to hide, which is an allusion to Esther, who was at a time when God was hidden.
Mordechai min ha torah minayim – Where do you find an allusion to Mordechai in the torah? The Gemara says because one of the spices in the ketoreth– the incense mor deror– the name of the spice, and the Targum- the Aramaic translation of the spice is Mari Dachya– and mari dach is Modechai, so the Gemara says Achashveirosh min ahtorah minayim– Where do we find allusion to Acheshveirosh in the torah?
From these three questions what story is the Gemara interested in? Is it fair to assume were talking about Purim?
Listen to the next line in the Gemara:
Moshe min ha torah minayim? Where is Moshe in the torah?
That’s a ridiculous question! And then what is he doing? This is a story about Purim. Why is Moshe there? So again you have an intimation that Moshe Rabbeinu is associated with Purim somehow.
The Gemara in shabbos says as follows: That God took har-sinai and held it over the heads of the Jewish people and said: Im atem mikabel et hatorah mutar– if you’re going to accept the torah that would be fine. Me im rah shamte churasah- if not I am going to drop this mountain on you as an upside down wine casket and bury you right here.
So the Jews said you know what, that’s a great idea we think well accept the torah.
So Rabbah says from here all of us have a great excuse not to accept anything in the torah because we can tell God that he forced us to accept the laws of the torah and that it is not fair.
The Gemara says: Af al pi ken- even though the Jews always had excuses to not keep the torah, chazrah le kivua bimeih esther- during the rule of Esther the Jews reaccepted the rules of the torah on their own without God holding the mountain over our head.
How do we know? Because it says kimu ve kibluh- it says the Jews kept and accepted these laws. The Gemara is bothered that is says it like this, kept and accepted. You’re talking about the presentation of the law. First you saw, accept the law and then observe the law. Why would the passuk say observe the law and then accept the law. Then, kimu mashu kiblu klar– that they reaffirmed that which they had already accepted once. So when was it when the Jews finally accepted the laws of the torah? Only during the time of Esther.
So who is it who finishes the work of Moshe Rabbeinu? It’s Esther. It’s not coincidental that the connections we see in the Gemara between Moshe and Esther are very important and significant.