This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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This week's Torah portion continues the laws of the Temple sacrifices and is preceded by the holiday of Purim. Both represent happiness: Jews would to rejoice three times a year in the Holiday Temple Sacrifices and Purim is a happy holiday.
But it is a bit difficult to understand why.
First of all, they are antiquated: the last time sacrifices were made was some 2,000 years ago and the story of Purim occurred over 400 years before that!
Second; both the sacrifices and the victory of Purim were associated with blood and death…seemingly a bit barbaric and primitive and definitely not conducive to Jewish simcha.
Not only that but the Talmud tells us that Purim is the HIGHEST of Jewish holidays. (even higher than Yom KiPurim… which is only 'a copy of' (Ki) Purim). And in almost every Jewish prayer there is expressed a longing to resume the sacrifices in the Third Temple.
Does this make sense? Why would we rational, civilized Jews praise Purim and Sacrifices no less rejoice in them?
To understand this here is a story. (Ateret Chaya, Tevet 5768)
Ayelet was a typical Israeli Jewish mother but she had a very non-typical problem. Her seven year old daughter had been complaining about a loss of appetite and pains in her jaw.
A quick visit to the doctor, routine checkup, revealed the terrible truth. It was a tumor! A growth the size of a large bean on the inside of her daughter's jaw.
The doctor didn't hide his concern and Ayelet was thrown into panic. Which wasn't difficult; even at her best she was an anxious person always worried about something and it didn't take much to get her off balance. She became hysterical.
The doctor tried to calm her down, but the damage had been done. Her worry brought more worry. She felt as though the world was crumbling around her, she was swooning; it was getting hard to breathe. But then she grabbed a hold of herself.
She had to be calm and think straight. She took a deep breath and when the doctor saw she had calmed down told her as matter-of-factly as possible that his secretary would make an appointment with the hospital for an ultrasound and she should think positively.
Moments later she walked out of the doctor's office, appointment slip in hand and her daughter's hand firmly clutched in the other. It was a nightmare. She couldn't take it.
But suddenly she had an idea; head for the nearest Chabad House and write to 'Igrot Kodesh' (lit. 'Holy Letters' of the Lubavitcher Rebbe).
The Lubavitcher Rebbe used to receive more mail than any man in the world and to date 28 volumes containing over ten thousand of his replies have been printed by Chabad.
She heard that people get still receive answers by opening these books randomly and reading the page that appears… and she felt it was her only chance for sanity.
She entered the Chabad house. Wrote a long and detailed letter explaining the severity of the situation, the upcoming ultra-sound examination and her fear, said a prayer, picked out a book (volume 18), inserted her letter and hoped for the best.
It came to letter # 6,752 written in the month of Adar almost 50 years ago to someone having the same problem as she did. The Rebbe wrote:
"May your health continue to improve… especially as we are in the month when we must increase in joy; joy of the Torah. And as Mimonadies writes that a healthy body is necessary for serving G-d properly. And seeing as we are in the month of Adar when everything totally transforms (Nahafoch Hu) for the good, may your situation also totally transform. Wishing you good news and a happy Purim."
It was as though the letter was written to her directly!
It gave her strength and next day when she took her daughter to the hospital for the examination; the Rebbe's words "totally transformed" danced before her eyes. There was no doubt in her mind that she was about to see big miracles.
And she was right. But not like she thought.
The technician did the ultrasound, told them to sit in the waiting room and a few moments later came out with a large piece of paper in his hand and a serious look on his face.
He pulled up a chair, sat down opposite Ayelet and her daughter, pointed to a dark spot about one and a half centimeters big on the paper and said quietly. "It's a tumor, right here under the jaw. But don't worry. It could be benign. You'll have to get a biopsy done to see. If you want we will make the appointment here in the hospital."
Ayelet began trembling. All her fears came back magnified a thousand times. She thought it was supposed to be a turnover from sadness to joy… like in the month of Adar… like Purim! Like the Rebbe said! But it was even worse!
All this was simply too much for her to handle. Too much! But she held back her tears; she didn't want to scare her daughter. The biopsy was set for the next day. What would she do until then! She felt as though she was going mad. Now it seemed that even the Rebbe had let her down!
She rushed to the Chabad House, told the Rabbi there what had happened and again went to 'Igrot Kodesh' for some sort of explanation.
The book she picked was again volume 18 and this time she opened to page 93 and it read as follows:
"First of all, your problem comes from nervousness. It is proper for you to consult a doctor who is an expert and follow his instructions. But it goes without saying that the more you strengthen your faith in the Creator and Director of the universe Who cares for each of us individually, you will feel that is no room for worry and anxiety. For G-d stands over and protects and He is the essence of good whose nature is to only do good. This will lessen your negative emotions and fear etc. I also advise that you observe the custom of saying the daily portion of Psalms as it is divided into the days of the month. And every day … give a few coins to charity. Wishing you blessings and good news."
It took her a few minutes to realize that the Rebbe was referring to her, not to her daughter. True, she had a problem with nerves …. and it could be because she didn't think of G-d in such real terms. But what about her daughter? That was the real problem!
She inserted her letter into another spot and opened. The Rebbe's answer was to the point. (letter 6,866)
"I'm amazed that you repeat the same request time after time when I have already replied previously. It is proper that you trust in G-d who heals all flesh and does miracles. …. May it be G-ds will that the medical treatment be successful and may you have good news and a happy frame of mind in all matters of your life."
That night and the next day before the biopsy the entire family said Psalms and made resolutions to give more charity, learn more Torah and do more good deeds and … not to worry.
Ayelet, her husband and her daughter all entered the hospital with trust in the Rebbe's promise of 'transformation' remembering his words "G-d stands over and protects and He is the essence of good whose nature is to only do good."
Ayelet prayed for a miracle but when the nurse came into the room with the huge needle used for the biopsy she almost fainted.
Her husband was sitting in the waiting room saying Psalms with tears in his eyes hoping for the best when suddenly the door of the doctor's office opened and his wife and daughter came out smiling with tears in their eyes.
"What happened?" he asked "Why so fast? Did he do the test?"
"It was a miracle, just like the Rebbe said!" She answered. "The doctor tried to locate the growth according to the ultrasound picture and he couldn't find it. So he made another type of x-ray and announced that the tumor was…. Gone."
That night over a hundred people filled Aylet's home for a thanksgiving meal.
Not only did the tumor go away but the Rebbe's words were fulfilled; Ayelet became a 'totally transformed' person. She made a firm decision that she would transform her chronic worries and nervousness into the joy of helping others and trusting in the Creator and she carried out her decision.
This answers our question.
The essence of the Sacrifices and of Purim was 'total transformation'. The sacrifices transformed animals from selfish creations to commandments of the Creator. And Purim transformed the Jews from just another nation that participated in King Achashveroshe's feast to 'Yehudim'; (i.e. 'Jews'.) totally devoted (Hod) to G-d.
In fact, the first time Jews were called Jews (Yehudim) was in the Megilla of Purim and the Talmud says that the first time they really fulfilled the Torah (that had been given some thousand years earlier) was then.
This is the message to us: The secret of happiness is total reliance on the Creator and total devotion to using all our G-d given talents to serving Him; improving the world in every way according to the Torah.
And just as Moses built the Tabernacle for the joyous sacrifices, Mordechai inspired the Jews to joyously oppose Haman in Purim, the Rebbe encouraged Ayelet and ten's of thousands like her to joyously rely on HaShem so will Moshiach bring the entire world to realize the nearness, goodness and awesomeness of the Creator with miracles and Joy like that of Purim.
We just have to do all we can to speed the arrival of ....
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