Halacha for Thursday 14 Adar II 5782 March 17 2022

Some Thoughts on Purim from Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l

The Megillah states that after Esther commanded the Jewish nation to fast for three days and then decided to come before Achashverosh unannounced, “And it was on the third day and Esther wore royalty.” Our Sages taught us in the Midrash that when Achashverosh saw Esther standing before him, he became enraged by the fact that Esther had broken the law and came to see him uninvited.

Esther saw from Achashverosh’s eyes that he was burning with anger, and she became very frightened and rested her head on the handmaiden to her right. However, Hashem saw the plight of the orphaned Queen Esther and immediately came to her rescue. The Gemara (Megillah 15b) states: “Rabbi Yohanan said: At that moment, three Heavenly angels came to assist Esther. One lifted her neck up, one draped her with a thread of grace and granted her additional beauty and glory, and one outstretched Achashverosh’s scepter towards Esther so that she could touch it.”

The Gemara there states that at that moment, Esther exclaimed the verse in Tehillim, “My G-d, my G-d, why did you forsake me?”

Our Sages taught that the phrase, “My G-d, my G-d” refers to two different situations when Hashem saved the Jewish nation: “My G-d” at the Red Sea and “My G-d” at Mount Sinai. We can explain that Esther realized that she had lost her spirit of holiness and she thought that this was because the Jewish nation were not worthy of a miracle, for they had bowed to the idol. She then calmed herself down by thinking that Hashem would, nevertheless, come to the aid of his beloved nation since the entire world was created in the merit of the Jewish nation. Indeed, even when they crossed the Red Sea, Micha’s idol was with them at that time and yet, Hashem still saved them, for when dealing with the entirety of the Jewish nation, Hashem does not judge them based on their actions, for they are the focal point of the world. That it why she exclaimed “My G-d,” in reference to Hashem saving us at the Red Sea.

On the other hand, she thought to herself that perhaps, this time, they would be punished for they were “one nation, scattered and divided among the nations,” which was a reference to the lack of unity that existed among the Jewish nation at the time. Thus, perhaps Hashem would not judge them as one nation because of the divisiveness among them. Nevertheless, Esther then thought to herself that since the Jewish people had since repented and were now unified, Hashem will certainly perform a miracle for them as He did when they were unified as one at the foot of Mount Sinai, regarding which the Torah states, “And Israel camped (singular tense) there opposite the mountain” and our Sages expounded, “Like one man with one heart.” She therefore prayed, “My G-d,” the G-d who saved us at Mount Sinai, please redeem and save us now again.

Indeed, Hashem accepted Esther’s prayer and performed great miracles for the entire Jewish nation. May Hashem hear the prayers of the Jewish nation and protect them wherever they may be. May we hear wonderful tidings of comfort and salvation, Amen!

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