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Audio: Torah Tidbits Audio for Parshat Sh'mini - Para

Torah Tidbits Audio for Parshat Sh'mini - Para.
3/21/2014, 10:29 AM

A7 Radio's "Torah Tidbits Audio" with Phil Chernofsky
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Look back on Purim

Before we look forward to Parshat Para, HaChodesh, the month of Nisan, and Pesach, let's take a look at a phenomenon of two and a half mellenia ago, that is still - sadly - alive and well today. Haman is elevated to a position of high honor and everyone must bow to him. Mordechai does not. This does not immediately catch Haman's attention. Rather it is the others of the king's inner circle who notice Mordechai's not bowing from their prostrate perspective. They ask him every day why he does not bow in fulfillment of the king's orders. Megila commentaries suggest various answers he gives them - the common thread of them involves Mordechai's Jewishness. That this would irk Haman is understandable. But he doesn't even notice... yet. But it also irks the others. Different people with different backgrounds, perhaps, regular people. Nice people. Cultured people. Who knows?. What we do know is that these people told Haman about Mordechai's not bowing to him. And this filled Haman with rage. But the people who told Haman about Mordechai made a point of telling Haman that Mordechai was Jewish and that his refusal to bow was based on his Judaism.

And so Haman was loathe to give the meglomaniac's reaction of "off with his head". Not enough for this insolent non-bower. Haman desired to destroy every man, woman, and child - the nation of Mordechai. It doesn't stop there. Haman goes to the king and gets royal approval for his plot to kill all the Jews in the kingdom. Why would a king readily agree to such a dastardly plan? Could it be merely the promise of silver? Or was there some deep hatred of the Jews within him, too? And what about the "normal" people of the kingdom who were looking forward to the great day of "kill the Jews". Maybe it was impossible to rescind a royal decree, but decent people shouldn't join in. Change the names, places, and times and we are still describing a Jew-hatred that is still with us. Our observance of Purim is forever. We will always celebrate G-d's hand in our victories. But Purim's sober (pardon the choice of words) side is with us - at least until the Complete Geula. Now, let's look ahead. With our calendar and towards the future in general. Parshat Para is our reminder to purify ourselves. To "clean up our act". No just with the Para Potion. The haftara talks about a new heart and a new spirit. In talks about our being infused with G-d's spirit, about keeping the Torah, about living in Eretz Yisrael. That is our challenge from right after Purim...

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Phil Chernofsky is the educational director of the Orthodox Union's OU Israel Center in Jerusalem and editor of the Torah Tidbits parsha pamphlet. Since 1998, he has hosted Torah Tidbits Audio, a shiur on the weekly parsha with witty insights. It airs every Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Israel time and is downloadable as a podcast on Israel National Radio. Phil made Aliyah to Israel over 30 years ago. He is the author of the newly released book And Every Single One Was Someone, a tribute to victims of the Holocaust.
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