Dear SHA Community,
We will celebrate Purim this coming Monday night and Tuesday, be’ezrat Hashem, and we have been preparing for the holiday over the past days and weeks.
Our annual SHAlach Manot Campaign concluded this week. Thank you to our amazing parent volunteers for helping to pack and deliver over 600 SHAlach Manot Packages! Thank you to Benjamina Menashe and Peta Mehlman for coordinating this great program.
On Sunday night, I led a class for parents about Megilat Esther in the North End community at the home of Lesley and Mike Weichbrodt. Thank you to all who helped make this program a success!
Students learned all about Purim this week in their classes. In older grades, teachers taught about the Megila and about the laws and customs of Purim. In the younger grades, students studied the laws of Purim and made projects or led plays about the holiday.
Each day this week was a themed dress up day - my favorite was Wednesday’s Fancy Day - and the week culminated in Friday’s annual SHA Purim Carnival. The entire gym was filled with bouncy toys and games of skill and decoration booths. Thank you to the SHA Student Council, Mrs. Sara Weiss and Natton Ben-Meir for their work in preparing this wonderful event. Thank you to all of the faculty and parent volunteers who made this program run so smoothly.
Next Monday will be the Fast of Esther. There will be no school on Purim day, Tuesday, March 7.
My wife, Jodilyn, and I will be hosting a Purim Hot Dog Drive-Thru in our front yard from 11 am to Noon on Purim Day. Please come by and celebrate Purim with us!
A Thought on Purim
Mordechai reacts to Haman’s evil decree and stations himself at the King’s gate
Mordechai learned of all that had been done; and Mordechai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes. He went out into the midst of the city and cried loudly and bitterly. He came until the front of the king’s gate for it was forbidden to enter the king’s gate, clothed with sackcloth. (Esther 4: 1-2)
Mordechai reacts to being rewarded and, again, stations himself at the gate
The King’s gate served as Mordechai’s post to pray and fast on behalf of the Jewish People. The king ordered Haman to publicly parade his arch nemesis, Mordechai, around the capital city in royal clothing on a royal horse. Upon the completion of the parade, Mordechai returned to the king’s gate. The Megila writes: Then Mordechai returned to the king’s gate, while Haman hurried home, his head covered in mourning. (Esther 6:12)
Although the situation with the Jewish People was not totally resolved, the tides had turned against Haman and in favor of Mordechai. Why did Mordechai return to the gate, his place of fasting and prayer?
A lesson about Prayer
The Brisker Rov, HaGaon Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, explains that common people celebrate when there is a small bit of success after a period of difficult suffering. However, wise people are not truly happy until the arrival of complete salvation. Despite seeing the beginning stages of the salvation of the Jewish People, so long as the salvation was not complete, Mordechai continued to beseech Hashem for mercy to the same degree as before the initial signs of the salvation had been evident.
Natural events tend to occur in waves or in trends. A period of ascendancy lasts for a while and is followed by a period of decline. A bull market runs its course and then a bear market sets in. To celebrate at the first glimpse of success is to claim that the events of Jewish history follow a natural pattern.
Mordechai understood that this is not the way of the Jews. Hashem guides Jewish history to its destiny through Divine Providence. Events under the influence of Divine Providence do not follow the same course as events that follow the natural course.
Had Mordechai celebrated at the first glimpse of salvation, he would have shown that he believed that Jewish history follows the natural course of events and that the first signs of salvation would lead to complete salvation. By continuing to pray and fast until the complete salvation had come, Mordechai demonstrated that Jewish history is guided by G-d’s providence – complete salvation cannot be anticipated until it has actually arrived.
One Lesson from this Teaching
Purim teaches us that the Jewish Destiny is guided by Divine Providence. We currently live in exile and our homeland is experiencing social upheaval and a growing terrorist threat. Our people’s challenges are not the result of fate. We should not despair or throw up our hands. Purim teaches us to self-reflect, improve and pray to G-d for His salvation.