Purim : Learning from the World

During the first two weeks of Adar, my son's yeshiva has their yearly campaign to raise money specifically for trips.  And for this type of yeshiva, those trips play a very important part in their education.  And the boys are given the task to raise most of the money themselves.  Last week, my son did his pitch to somebody in shul.  He told my son that he'll give him some money if he can give him a good dvar Torah.  My son was, thankfully, prepared for it.  He said (and I'll leave out the details for brevity), "that we learn from the language found in Shema, that a person must serve Hashem with his two Inclinations.  His good and his bad.  When a person hears that somebody is collecting for a yeshiva, his Evil Inclination says, 'It's only for yeshivos… I give to them anyhow, I'll give this boy just 5 shekels,' yet his Good Inclination says, "No!  I need to give fifty shekels! At least!"

Such an Israeli approach to fundraising.

But it worked!  And he got 20 shekels for it.

(Please learn in the merit of Liba Sora bas Bracha Rochel and Dovid ben Liba Sora, a mother and son who are both battling and currently undergoing procedures against cancer)

Last week I was listening to a talk given by Rav Reuven Leuchter, who I've come to really appreciate.  He was discussing the concept of Emunah (faith) and the lesser-known concept of "Learning from the World."  He explained that many (erroneously) treat emunah with two sayings, "This too is for the good." when things don't go the way we want, and "With the help of Hashem," when things go the way we want.  Being, that we "package" our response based on what we are "supposed" to say, when Hashem does something.  And with that "packaging," we completely neglect to think about WHY something went the way we wanted or WHY something did not.  We simply accept what happened (with our pre-packaged emunah) and move on, without trying to learn from it (and of course there are times we cannot learn from it, but we should at least try to learn something from it).  We are in essence, allowing "nature" to run it's course, and we along with it.

One of the big questions asked about Purim is, "Why is it called Purim?"  Of course, "Pur" is a drawing or lottery, and it was through this drawing Haman was able to figure out the best time possible to destroy the Jewish nation.  But still, we're left with the question, "Okay… so what?" Why, out of everything that happened in the story, do we name it after something so inconsequential?

Rav Pincus said that this "drawing" that we name Purim after, is not simply the drawing that Haman did.  Rather, it encompasses the entire story of Purim.

We see that lottery systems are used in the Torah.  For example, on Yom Kippur, a lottery is used to determine which goat goes to Hashem and which to Azazel.  When, shortly after the Jewish nation entered Eretz Yisroel and somebody did not follow orders, a lottery system was used to find that person.  When parceling out the land, a lottery system was used.

Why is this?  Because, with a lottery system, things are being "left to chance," and are therefore fair and even.  Of course, that's how the non-Jewish world views it.  The Torah views it as a way for Hashem to do the selecting, without human intervention, yet keeping everything within the rules of nature.

This is what the entire Purim was about.  Hashem working His ways, directing everything, within the guise of nature, not needing our "help" at all.

Any person reading the Megillah, cannot be blamed to say, "So, where was Hashem in all of this?"  After all, we don't even see Hashem's name written anywhere!  And, it does seem, on the surface, the Mordechai and Esther played their cards right and were able to save the nation themselves (with the "help" of Hashem, of course).

However, real emunah does not allow that.  Real emunah forces us to look deeper into things and see how (and if possible, why) Hashem did everything Himself.

And from how we learn this lesson with Purim, we need to also use throughout the year.  Instead of using pre-packaged "emunah" statements, we should sit down and think of what happened, how it happened, how it has impacted our life,  see how Hashem pulled it together, and perhaps try to see even why such a thing might have happened so we can even learn from that.

Nature is a mere cloak for Hashem to work.  And it is our job to look through this nature and see and learn from Hashem's workings.

With that, I wish you all a great Shabbos and a meaningful Purim!