Visit Our Website www.BikurCholimPS.com March 2014/Adar 5774 VOL. 17 NO. 3
Let My People Know
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What is the Secret of our People's Survival?
By Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, The Lubavitcher Rebbe governing a certain phenomenon, or to discover the By the Grace of G-d essential properties of a certain element in nature, he 7th of Adar, 5713  must undertake a series of experiments under the most Brooklyn, N.Y. varied conditions in order to discover those properties …The story of Purim, as related in or laws which pertain under all conditions alike. No the Book of Esther, gives us a clear true scientific law can be deduced from a minimum number of experiments, or from experiments under analysis of the "Jewish problem." similar or only slightly varied conditions, for the results Being dispersed over 127 provinces as to what is essential and what is secondary or quite and lands, their own still in ruins, unimportant would then not be conclusive. the Jews undoubtedly differed from one another in custom, garment and tongue according to the place of The same principle should be applied to our people. It their dispersal, very much in the same way as Jews in is one of the oldest in the world, beginning its national different lands differ nowadays. Yet, though there were history from the Revelation at Mount Sinai, some 3300 Jews who would conceal their Jewishness, Haman, the years ago. In the course of these long centuries our enemy of the Jews, recognized the essential qualities people has lived under extremely varied conditions, in and characteristics of the Jews which made all of most different times and different places all over the them, with or without their consent, into "one people," world. If we wish to discover the essential elements namely, "their laws are different from those of any making up the cause and very basis of the existence of our people and its unique strength, we must conclude other people" (Book of Esther 3:8). that it is not its peculiar physical or intrinsic mental Hence, in his wicked desire to annihilate the Jews, characteristics, not its tongue, manners and customs Haman seeks to destroy "all the Jews, young and old, (in a wider sense), nor even its racial purity (for there children and women." Although there were in those were times in the early history of our people, as well as days, too, Jews who strictly adhered to the Torah during the Middle Ages and even recent times, when and Mitzvoth, and Jews whose religious ties with whole ethnic groups and tribes have become proselytes their people were weak, or who sought to assimilate and part of our people). themselves, yet none could escape the classification of belonging to that "one people," and every one was The essential element which unites our "dispersed and scattered people" and makes it "one people" throughout included in Haman's cruel decree. its dispersion and regardless of time, is the Torah and In all ages there were Hamans, yet we have outlived Mitzvoth, the Jewish way of life which has remained them, thank G-d. Wherein lies the secret of our basically the same throughout the ages and in all places. The conclusion is clear and beyond doubt: It is the Torah survival? and Mitzvoth which made our people indestructible on The answer will be evident from the following the world scene in the face of massacres and pogroms illustration. When a scientist seeks to ascertain the laws aiming at our physical destruction, and in the face Sheina Gilbert, Boaz McNabb, Peninah & Ber Baumgarten (including Menucha Rochel, Reuven Daniel, Yisroel Gavriel Noach & Shimon) Nissa Brocha & Avraham Shlomo HaKohen Yarmush (including Reuven Gavriel, Dovid Aryeh & Yisorel Isser Hacohanim) Chaya-Morasha Gilbert & Dan Berkowitz, Hershel-Elyahu & Noa-Miriam Gilbert-McNabb & and our dogs Zoe & Baby.
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of ideological onslaughts of foreign cultures aiming at our spiritual destruction. Purim teaches us the age-old lesson, which has been verified even most recently, to our sorrow, that no manner of assimilationism, not even such which is extended over several generations, provides an escape from the Hamans and Hitlers; nor can any Jew sever his ties with his people by attempting such an escape. On the contrary: Our salvation and our existence depend precisely upon the fact that "their laws are different from those of any other people." Purim reminds us that the strength of our people as a whole, and of each individual Jew and Jewess, lies in a closer adherence to our ancient spiritual heritage which contains the secret of harmonious life, hence of a healthy and happy life. All other things in our spiritual and temporal life must be free from any contradiction to the basis and essence of our existence, and must be attuned accordingly in order to make for the utmost harmony, and add to our physical and spiritual strength, both of which go hand in hand in Jewish life. With best wishes for a joyous Purim, and may we live to see a world free of Hamans and all types of Amalekites, the enemies of the Jews, of their body, soul and faith, Cordially yours, [Signed: Menachem Schneerson]
DESERT HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL The Desert Holocaust Memorial is located in the Palm Desert Civic Center Park at San Pablo Avenue & Fred Waring Drive. Residents and visitors are encouraged to visit this moving memorial, a place of remembrance and monument of hope.
‘A Message From the Rabbi’ Dear Friends, As we are approaching Purim, let us remember our 4 Purim Mitzvos. It’s very easy to remember- just think of the 4 M’s
Happy Purim to You and Your Family!
Megillah - Listen to the reading of the Purim story Mishloach Monos - Gift baskets to a friend Matonos La Evyonim - Tzedaka Money for the poor Meal - Enjoy a festive Purim Meal We hope you enjoy our current issue of ‘Let My People Know’.
We’ve included lots of inspiring Purim stories, recipes, and a special Purim guide, to enhance the Holiday Spirit.
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The Basic Purim Story A Fateful Party It all began in Ancient Persia in the 4th century BCE. The Holy Temple that had stood in Jerusalem was destroyed more than 50 years earlier, and the Jews were subjects of the mighty Persian empire which extended over 127 lands.
Three years after King Ahasuerus ascended the Persian throne, when he felt secure in his new position, he celebrated by throwing a grand 180-day-long party for all his subjects. Following this extravagant gala, Ahasuerus hosted a smaller week-long party for the residents of the capital city of Shushan. In the palace's women's quarters, Ahasuerus' wife, Queen Vashti, hosted her own party for the Shushanite womenfolk. On the seventh day of this party, Ahasuerus' heart "was merry with wine," and he commanded his wife Vashti to appear before all the partying men—he wanted to show them all her exquisite beauty. Vashti balked at this request, and at the advice of his advisor Memuchan, Ahasuerus ordered Vashti's execution. The Beauty Contest When Ahasuerus' wrath dissipated, he was lonely for a wife. His servants suggested that he orchestrate a beauty pageant. Officers would be appointed in all the king's lands, and all beautiful girls would be brought to Ahasuerus. And the girl who would find favor in the king's eyes would be the new queen. The leader of the Jews at that time was a Shushanite resident named Mordechai. He had a cousin, Esther, who was orphaned as a young girl. Mordechai raised her and treated her as a daughter. Though she had no desire to be the queen, Esther was forcibly taken to the king's harem, to participate in the contest. While all the other contestant beautified themselves with perfumes and lotions, Esther did nothing. But G‑d had His own plans. When Esther appeared before the king, he immediately liked her, and Esther became the new Queen of Persia. But as per Mordechai's directive, Esther refused to divulge her nationality—even to the king. Mordechai to the Rescue Shortly after Esther became queen, Mordechai 4 n LET MY PEOPLE KNOW • MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774
overheard two of the king's chamberlains discussing a plot to assassinate the king. Mordechai had them reported, and the traitors were hanged. The Anti-Semitic Prime Minister Meanwhile, Haman, one of Ahasuerus' ministers, was promoted to the position of Prime Minister. Haman was a virulent Jew hater; in fact he was a descendant of the notoriously anti-Semitic nation of Amalek. Immediately after his promotion, the king issued a decree ordering everyone to bow down whenever Haman appeared. Now Haman would walk around with a large idol hanging from a chain around his neck. When Mordechai, a proud Jew, refused to bow down, Haman was infuriated. He resolved to take revenge against all the Jews and threw lots to determine the "lucky" day when he would implement his plan. The lot fell on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. Haman approached Ahasuerus and offered him 10,000 silver talents in exchange for permission to exterminate the Jews. Ahasuerus, who was no friend of the Jews either, told Haman, "The money is yours to keep, and the nation is yours to do with as you please." Haman immediately sent proclamations to all the king's land. These declarations, sealed with the royal signet ring, ordered the people to rise up against the Jews and kill them all – men, women, and children – on the following 13th of Adar. Mordechai's Request Mordechai became aware of the decree. He rent his garments and donned sackcloth. He sent a message to Esther, asking her to approach the king and beg him to spare her people. Esther responded that according to the rules anyone who entered the king's presence un-summoned would be put to death—unless the king extended to that person his golden scepter. "And I," Esther said, "have not been summoned by the king for thirty days already!" Mordechai sent another message: "Do not think
that you will escape the fate of all the Jews by being in the king's palace. For if you will remain silent at this time, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source, and you and the house of your father will be lost. And who knows if it is not for just such a time that you reached this royal position." Esther agreed to approach the king. But she asked Mordechai to gather all the Jews in Shushan and let them all fast for three days and nights. And after this fast Esther would put her life in her hands and approach the king. Mordechai complied with Esther's request. He gathered the Jews of Shushan – especially the children, 22,000 of them – and they fasted, repented and prayed to G‑d. The First Feast After three days of fasting, Esther donned royal garb and entered Ahasuerus' chambers. Immediately, the king extended his scepter. "What is it?" Ahasuerus asked. "What is your request?" "I would like to invite the king and Haman to a small feast I have prepared," Esther responded. So the king and Haman joined Esther for a winefeast. During the feast, the king again asked Esther whether she had anything to request. "Yes," Esther responded. "I would appreciate if tomorrow, again, the king and Haman would join me for a feast. And then I will tell the king my request. Haman left the party a happy and proud man. Oh the honor he was being accorded! But standing at the king's gate was Mordechai – who still refused to bow to Haman – and Haman was enraged. When he arrived home, his wife and wise advisors counseled him to erect a gallows, and then to go to the king and request permission to hang Mordechai. Haman excitedly went
ahead and put up the gallows. The Beginning of the End Sleep eluded the king that night, so he asked his servants to read for him from the Royal Chronicles. Sleep eluded the king that night, so he asked his servants to read for him from the Royal Chronicles. They complied with the king's orders. They read from the Chronicles how Mordechai saved the king's life when two of his chamberlains hatched a plot to kill him. "Was he rewarded for this fine act?" Ahasuerus asked. "No he was not," the servants responded. At that moment Haman entered the king's courtyard. His purpose? To ask the king's permission to hang Mordechai! Before Haman could utter a word, Ahasuerus addressed him: "My Haman, in your estimation, what shall be done to a person whom the king wishes to honor?" Haman, who was certain that the king wished to honor him, responded: "Bring royal garment and a royal horse. And let one of the king's nobles dress the man and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, 'So is done for the man whom the king wishes to honor!'" "Great idea," Ahasuerus responded. "Now go get the garments and the horse and do so for Mordechai the Jew!"
Haman had no choice but to comply. On the next day he went and honored Mordechai as the king had ordered, and then immediately rushed to join the king and Esther for... The Second Feast "What is your request?" a curious King Ahasuerus asked Esther at the feast. "If I have found favor in your eyes, O King," Esther pleaded, "and if it pleases the king, let my life be granted me by my plea, and the life of my people by my request. For my people and I have been sold to be annihilated, killed and destroyed!" Esther then identified Haman as the evil person who wished to perpetrate this atrocity. The king was greatly angered. When he was then informed that Haman had built a gallows for Mordechai, he ordered that Haman be hanged on that very gallows. The Tables Are Turned On that day, Haman's estate was given to Esther, and Mordechai was appointed Prime Minister in Haman's stead. But Esther was far from satisfied. Haman was dead, but his evil decree was still in effect. According to Persian law, once a king issues a decree it can not be rescinded. But the king gave Mordechai and Esther permission, and they promptly wrote up a decree that countermanded Haman's edict. The
decree granted the Jews permission to defend themselves against their enemies. And by this time, considering that all knew that the queen and Prime Minister were both Jewish, no one would prevent the Jews from doing just that! And the Jews in Shushan were oh so happy. Celebrations abounded! The Battle On the 13th of Adar that year, the Jews throughout the Persian Empire mobilized and killed the enemies who had wanted to kill them. In Shushan, among the dead were Haman's ten sons. Esther asked the king's permission for the Jews in Shushan to have one more day to destroy their enemy—and the king acceded to her wish. On that day, the 14th of Adar, the Jews worldwide celebrated, and the Jews of Shushan killed more of their enemies, and also hung Haman's sons. The Jews of Shushan then rested and celebrated on the 15th of Adar. In Commemoration Mordechai and Esther established a holiday to commemorate these amazing events. Jews worldwide celebrate on the 14th of Adar, while residents of walled cities – like Shushan – celebrate on the 15th of Adar. This holiday, called "Purim," is the most joyous holiday on the Jewish calendar.
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Feasting and Rejoicing
Additional Guidelines on How to Fulfill the Mitzvah of Having a Purim Feast.
It is a mitzvah to have a festive meal on Purim, which includes meat and wine. This festive meal should be held during the day; if one ate this meal at night, he has not fulfilled the obligation. However, on the night of the fourteenth of Adar after the Megillah reading - or on the night of the fifteenth in the cities that celebrate Purim then - one should also rejoice and eat a more elaborate meal than usual. The table should be set and candles lit. One should wear holiday clothing when eating at night, and surely when partaking of the festive meal during the day.
extending it until Shabbat arrives. They then place a Shabbat tablecloth on the table, recite Kiddush, and continue the meal, which now becomes a doubly festive meal, in honor of Shabbat as well as Purim. The miracle of Purim is inextricably linked with wine. Vashti' downfall occurred at a feast of wine, and Esther took her place. Haman' downfall occurred at the feast of wine which Esther made. This feast of wine served to rectify the transgression of the Jews who participated in the feast of wine made by Achashverosh.
It is customary to schedule the festive meal for the afternoon of Purim. Minchah is recited in the early afternoon and the meal is extended into the night. Most of the meal, however, should be eaten during the day.
Our Sages, of blessed memory, therefore ordained that one should drink wine until the point of intoxication on Purim. One must drink on Purim until he cannot differentiate between "cursed is Haman" and "blessed is Mordechai."
If Purim falls on a Friday, the festive meal is held early and should be concluded well before Shabbat so that one can enjoy the Shabbat meal that evening with good appetite. Some have a tradition of eating the festive meal later in the day on Friday and
However, if one's health might be impaired by drinking wine, or if one fears that becoming intoxicated might lead him to act irresponsibly, or that it might lead him to neglect to say the proper blessings and prayers, he is not required to drink
till intoxication. Rather, he should drink more than he usually does and when he falls asleep because of that he will have fulfilled the obligation, for one who is asleep cannot differentiate between curses and blessings. It is customary to eat vegetables on Purim, in commemoration of the fact that Esther ate vegetables when she was in the king's palace for she was uwilling to eat the non-kosher food served there. The verse states. And he differentiated for her and for her maidens for good (Esther 2:9) i.e., he gave her food that was different and that was good for her. This was also true of Daniyel, Chananyah, Misha'e and Azaryah when they were in the royal household in Babylon they also subsisted on vegetables alone. Although it is laudatory to eat an elaborate meal on Purim, it is preferable for one to be more generous in giving gifts to the poor than in making an elaborate meal or exchanging gifts of food with friends. There is no greater joy or more praisworthy action than making the hearts of the poor, the orphaned, or the widowed happy. One who brings joy to their hearts is compared to the Shechinah, as the verse (Isaiah 57:15) states: "(G-d) revives the spirit of the oppressed, and restores the heart of the downtrodden (Rambam, Hilchot Megillah 2)".
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Gragger: A Purim Story
gragger. Everyone became very frightened. The Rabbi continued reading. People were shaking their heads. They made signs to Yaakov that he must be quiet. One man wanted to take the gragger away from him, but Yaakov would not even let him touch it. Everyone was afraid that Yaakov would scream and make a lot of noise if forced to give up his gragger. So he was allowed to keep it. No one could tell him to stop using the gragger, for during the reading of the Megillah it is forbidden to speak. They were hoping that Yaakov would understand and put the gragger away.
By Nissan Mindel Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society
Since this is a story about a gragger, it is of course a Purim story. One Purim many, many years ago, in the little town of Vardik, in far-off Russia, everyone was very sad and worried. Instead of looking forward to the gaiety of the holiday, they were afraid that their entire Jewish community would be destroyed. It almost seemed like the times of the first Purim-that's how great the danger was. The son of the great powerful Czar had gone hunting in the woods with a group of friends. They had lost their way and by chance arrived in the town of Vardik. All the people were excited to have this distinguished visitor in their midst. They gave him the finest room in the local inn, the finest food, and delicious cakes. The next day, the prince suddenly became very ill and was unable to return home. Messengers were sent to the Czar to report the bad news. In a very short time, the Czar and several important ministers arrived in Vardik. They had brought several doctors with them who immediately began to examine the prince. Each one tried to cure him, but none was successful. The prince was moaning in pain. His face was flushed, and he was burning with fever. Most of the time he slept. He refused all food and drink. His very life was in danger. And then one of the ministers said that it was the fault of the Jews that the prince was sick, because they gave him bad food. This was of course ridiculous and untrue, but everyone was so worried about the sickness of the prince that they believed him. Unfortunately, many times in
history, when there was any kind of trouble, evil men placed the blame on innocent Jews. And so the Jews of Vardik were very frightened, for they knew that their lives might be in danger. On the day before Purim, two notices were put on trees. They said that if the prince did not recover by the end of the next day, all the Jews in Vardik would be held responsible. Also, since the prince was very weak, everyone had to be very quiet. But the Megillah had to be read. The Jews gathered silently in the little shul on the main street, right near the inn where the prince lay gravely ill. Everyone in shul was told to sit absolutely still, for the Rabbi would read in a soft, low voice. The children had been told to leave their graggers home, for the notice had requested silence. (A gragger is a noisemaker that is used during the reading of the Megillah: whenever the name of the wicked Haman is mentioned, children swing their graggers and make a lot of noise to show their contempt and hate for him.) The fathers looked very serious and sad. The mothers in the women's section were crying. There was no feeling of Purim in the air, that's for sure. Suddenly, there was an awful noise. The name of Haman had been read, and little Yaakov was swinging his gragger with all his might. Happily, with a big smile on his face, he was swinging that
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The windows to the prince's room were open to let in some fresh air. Gathered around his bed were the ministers, the doctors and the Czar. There was total silence in the room. The prince was pale and weak. He had no strength left. His eyes were closed and he seemed not even to be breathing. What was that? Who dared to break the rule of silence? All the people in the room ran to the window to see who the guilty one was. The next moment they jumped in fright, for they heard a voice behind them asking for some water. There was the prince, sitting up in bed, wide awake. "What a jolly noise I hear! What is it? Please bring me some water. I have never been so thirsty in my whole life. Hurry, please. I feel so dry." The noise of the gragger had awakened the prince. In a few days he was well, and the whole company returned in peace to the palace. The Jews in the town were saved, and they had the happiest Purim day you could ever imagine. Yaakov was the hero of the day. People hugged him and kissed him. They gave him so much nasherei that he had enough to eat till Passover.
Happy Purim May the coming year be filled with health and happiness for all our family and friends. Dr. David & Linda Morrow, Daniella, Yehoshuah Yosef Morrow, Shaya, Dina, Yakira Ettel, Elyon, Neriyah Zaddok & Shlomo Tzohar Guttenberg, and Ariella, Michael & Yisroel Hirsh Novack
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Bikur Cholim At Work A HAPPY and HEALTHY PURIM to everyone from BIKUR CHOLIM of PALM SPRINGS!
We would like to thank the Jewish Federation of the Desert for their generous help and support toward our ongoing activities.
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We invite you to be a partner in Bikur Cholim's programs.
Please use the enclosed envelope to send in your PURIM donation. You can also visit our Website: BikurCholimPS.com Once again, may G-d bless you and your family.
LET MY PEOPLE KNOW â€˘ MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774 n 13
Editor’s Note Purim begins this year on Saturday evening, March 15, 2014, and continues through Sunday night, March 16. What follows is a brief step-by-step guide to Purim observance. We have also included links to additional Purim resources.
The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”
The Story in a Nutshell The Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife, Queen Vashti, executed for failing to follow his orders, he orchestrated a beauty pageant to find a new queen. A Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes and became the new queen—though she refused to divulge the identity of her nationality.
of all the Jews on the 13th of Adar—a date chosen by a lottery Haman made. Mordechai galvanized all the Jews, convincing them to repent, fast and pray to G‑d. Meanwhile, Esther asked the king and Haman to join her for a feast. At the feast, Esther revealed to the king her Jewish identity. Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister in his stead, and a new decree was issued—granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies. On the 13th of Adar the Jews mobilized and killed many of their enemies. On the 14th of Adar they rested and celebrated. Note! If you live in Jerusalem, the Purim laws vary; click here for details. Your Purim To-Do List 1) Listen to the Megillah
To relive the miraculous events of Purim, Meanwhile, the anti-Semitic Haman was listen to the appointed prime minister of the empire. reading of Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and the megillah Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders (the Scroll and refused to bow to Haman. Haman of Esther) twice: once on Purim eve, was incensed and convinced the king to Saturday night, March 15, and again on issue a decree ordering the extermination Purim day, March 16. 14 n LET MY PEOPLE KNOW • MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774
To properly fulfill the mitzvah, it is crucial to hear every single word of the megillah. At certain points in the reading where Haman’s name is mentioned, it is customary to twirl graggers (Purim noisemakers) and stamp one’s feet to “eradicate” his evil name. Tell the children that Purim is the only time when it’s a mitzvah to make noise! 2) Give to the Needy (Matanot La’Evyonim)
Concern for the needy is a year-round responsibility; but on Purim it is a special mitzvah to remember the poor. Give charity to at least two (but preferably more) needy individuals on Purim day, March 16. The mitzvah is best fulfilled by giving directly to the needy. If, however, you cannot find poor people, place at least two coins into a charity box. As with the other mitzvahs of Purim, even small
children should be taught to fulfill this mitzvah. 3) Send Food Portions to Friends (Mishloach Manot) On Purim we emphasize the importance of Jewish unity and friendship by sending gifts of food to friends. On Purim day, March 16, send a gift of at least two kinds of ready-to-eat foods (e.g., pastry, fruit, beverage) to at least one friend. Men should send to men, and women to women. It is preferable that the gifts be delivered via a third party. Children, in addition to sending their own gifts of food to their friends, make enthusiastic messengers. 4) Eat, Drink and Be Merry Purim should be celebrated with a special festive meal on Purim day, at which family and friends gather together to rejoice in the Purim spirit. It is a mitzvah to drink wine or other inebriating drinks at this meal. Special Prayers (Al HaNissim, Torah reading) On Purim we include the Al HaNissim
prayer, which describes the Purim miracle, in the evening, morning and afternoon prayers, as well as in the Grace After Meals. In the morning service there is a special reading from the Torah scroll in the synagogue (Exodus 17:8–16). Purim Customs: Masquerades and Hamantashen
A time-honored Purim custom is for children to dress up and disguise themselves—an allusion to the fact that the miracle of Purim was disguised in natural garments. This is also the significance behind a traditional Purim food, the hamantash—a pastry whose filling is hidden within a three-cornered crust. Pre- and Post-Purim Observances Torah Reading of Zachor On the Shabbat before Purim (this year, March 15), a special reading is held in the synagogue. We read the Torah section called Zachor (“Remember”), in which we are enjoined to remember the deeds of (the nation of) Amalek (Haman’s ancestor) who sought to destroy the Jewish people.
The Fast of Esther To commemorate the prayer and fasting that the Jewish people held during the Purim story, we fast on the day before Purim. This year we fast on Thursday, March 13. The fast begins approximately an hour before sunrise, and lasts until nightfall. Click here for exact times for your location. The “Half Coins” (Machatzit HaShekel) It is a tradition to give three coins in “half” denominations—e.g., three half-dollar coins—to charity, to commemorate the half-shekel that each Jew contributed as his share in the communal offerings in the time of the Holy Temple. This custom, usually performed in the synagogue, is done on the afternoon of the “Fast of Esther,” or before the reading of the Megillah. Shushan Purim In certain ancient walled cities— Jerusalem is the primary example— Purim is observed not on the 14th of Adar (the date of its observance everywhere else), but on the 15th of Adar. This is to commemorate that fact that in the ancient walled city of Shushan, where the battles between the Jews and their enemies extended for an additional day, the original Purim celebration was held on the 15th of Adar. The 15th of Adar is thus called “Shushan Purim,” and is a day of joy and celebration also in those places where it is not observed as the actual Purim. LET MY PEOPLE KNOW • MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774 n 15
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A Purim Secret By Yerachmiel Tilles
Nissan was a wealthy man who lived in Yargin, a small town near Pressburg, the capital city of Slovakia. When younger, he had been a student at the famous Pressburg yeshivah. He and his wife were already married for many years, but still had not been blessed with children. When, finally, a son was born to him in 5583 (1823), it was no surprise that he honored his former teacher, the world-renowned scholar known as the Chatam Sofer, to perform the circumcision. Unfortunately, the brit had to be postponed because of the weak health of the baby. It wasn’t till several weeks later that it was announced that it would take place on . . . Purim!
leaving it open to the same number page he had been on. When he resumed his seat, he didn’t seem to notice the difference at all.
At the brit, the Chatam Sofer was glowing with “light, happiness, joy and honor.” Whether it was the joy of Purim, happiness for his student, or a combination of both, nobody knew. After completing the circumcision, when he dipped his finger in the wine to place a drop in the baby’s mouth (following custom), he raised his voice and called out very loudly the Talmudic expression, Nichnas yayin, yatza sod—“When wine goes in, secrets come out.”
Baruch Mordechai arrived in Jerusalem with a letter of recommendation from Rabbi Shraga Feldheim, mashgiach (study supervisor) at Pressburg, which said that he “is truly pious, prays with great devotion, and that his desire to learn Torah is sincere and enormous.”
The baby was given an appropriate name for a Purim brit: Baruch Mordechai, which means “blessed be Mordechai,” from the paragraph recited after the megillah readings. The child grew. At an early age, he was already outstanding in character and religious observance. However, much to the distress of his parents, his ability to understand Torah was not at par. As a boy, he didn’t seem any different than his age-mates; but after his bar mitzvah, when he entered the famous Pressburg yeshivah, it was noticeable that he was having major difficulties in his studies. In truth, he was very diligent. He would sit absorbed in the holy books from morning to evening. But whenever he was asked to repeat or explain anything, he was unable to respond, and could only sit silently. His less-sensitive classmates liked to make fun of him because of this. Once, when he left his place for a few minutes, they switched his volume of Talmud for one of another subject entirely, 18 n LET MY PEOPLE KNOW • MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774
When Baruch Mordechai turned eighteen, the Chatam Sofer’s son, known as the Ketav Sofer (who had succeeded his recently departed father as the head of the yeshivah) advised Baruch Mordechai’s parents to send him to the Land of Israel. Perhaps there, where “the air of the Holy Land makes wise,” his studies would prosper. His parents decided to do it. They hoped it would also enable him to make a good match.
One of the scholarly leaders of the Jerusalem community then, Rabbi Yeshaya Bardaki, “adopted” Baruch Mordechai, concerning himself with all of his needs. He was impressed with the young man’s sterling character and piousness, but he could not fathom how someone who had done nothing but study Torah diligently all his life could have retained so little. When Baruch Mordechai reached age twenty, Rabbi Bardaki found a bride for him: a simple girl from a good family in Jerusalem who wouldn’t mind that her husband was an ignoramus. Several years after the wedding, Baruch Mordechai began to work as a water-carrier. He was honest to a fault, and as a result quickly became very popular. Every Rosh Chodesh (first of the month), he would deliver water to his regular customers for free; he worried that over the course of the previous month water might have spilled, whereas he had charged for full buckets. For more than forty years Baruch Mordechai toiled at his chosen profession, the whole time in joyous spirit and with gratitude to G‑d for his lot. He took special satisfaction from serving the many Torah scholars within the walls of Jerusalem; he considered this a great merit, and refused to
accept payment from them. It anguished him that the great scholar Rabbi Yehudah Leib Diskin refused to take water from him. “I cannot allow myself to be served by the likes of Reb Baruch Mordechai,” he would say—but refused to explain his words. On Purim 5653 (1893), at the time of the festive meal, most of the chassidim and notables of Old City Jerusalem crowded, like every year, into the home of Rabbi Schneur Zalman Fradkin of Lublin, the celebrated author of the scholarly book Torat Chesed. The atmosphere was exceptionally joyous, even for a Purim celebration. Everyone was constantly erupting into lively song and dance, and there was a complementary flow of wine and wise words. All of a sudden, Baruch Mordechai called out to the host in a loud voice from the midst of the swaying chassidim, “Rebbe! Today is seventy years exactly since my brit.” Everyone smiled tolerantly, figuring that such an outburst from the simple water-carrier could only be a result of all the Purim wine he had imbibed. “If so,” responded Rabbi Schneur Zalman, “you deserve an extra-large measure of l’chaim.” Immediately a large tumbler of a special strong wine was poured and passed to Baruch Mordechai, who speedily dispatched it as commanded.
It had an immediate effect. The elderly water-carrier began to sing and dance energetically. The sage’s reaction was surprising. He looked up at Baruch Mordechai and shouted over the crowd: “It would be nice if you would stop fooling around already, and honor the holy assemblage with some strong words of halachah and aggadah (Torah law and lore).” Suddenly there was silence. Everyone’s gaze shifted in amused anticipation to the tipsy Baruch Mordechai, as he climbed up to stand on the table and began to speak. But then, all the grins slowly gave way to wide-eyed stares of astonishment as it penetrated their ears that the water-carrier was discoursing enthusiastically on scholarly Purim topics, and peppering his words with learned citations from the Talmudic tractate Megillah and a variety of midrashim and works of Jewish law. And he waxed on and on! Indeed, if the strong wine hadn’t finally taken its toll, it seemed that he could have continued indefinitely. Even before the holiday was over, the news of the
extraordinary scholarship of the unassuming water-carrier had spread throughout Jerusalem. The community was in an uproar. How had they allowed such an accomplished scholar to be disdained in their midst, and to labor as a mere water-carrier for so many years? And how had his erudition remained hidden for so long? A few of the elders of the community recalled hearing of the mysterious words of the Chatam Sofer seventy years before. Now, some clever minds were saying, they could finally be understood. Nichnas yayin, yatza sod—“Wine enters, secrets emerge.” Yayin (wine), spelled yud-yud-nun, has a numerical value of seventy, and so does samech-vovdalet, the Hebrew word for “secret”! Biographical note: The Torah giant Rabbi Moshe Schreiber [1762–1839] was known as the Chatam Sofer, after the title of his volumes of responsa which have been highly significant in the modern development of Jewish law and thought.
Burning of the Chometz Ceremony Monday, April 14, 2014 • 10:00 am Please call the Bikur Cholim for more information at 760-325-8076 Bring your Chometz!
SELLING THE “CHOMETZ” The Torah forbids a Jew to own any chometz (bread, cake, beer, etc.) during Passover, so we sell all chometz (left after the search and burning) to a non-Jew, with a rabbi acting as our agent. The non-Jewish buyer gives a small deposit, and the balance becomes a guaranteed loan. The sale of chometz transaction is legally binding, but the buyer may return it and retrieve his deposit. Place all chometz utensils in a specific room or closet(s) to be sold, sealed with tape or lock, until after Passover.
SALE OF CHOMETZ FORM Please Print or Type
I (we*) (SELLER’S NAME) __________________________________________________ hereby authorize Rabbi Yosef Shusterman to dispose of all chometz in my (our) possession wherever it may be, at home, at my (our) place of business, or elsewhere - in accordance with the requirements of Jewish Law as incorporated in the special contract for the sale of Chometz. Resident Address: ___________________________________________________________ City: ______________________________________________________________________ Business Address: ____________________________________________________________ City: ______________________________________________________________________ Signature(s) _________________________________________________________________ * husband and wife, specify names. Must be signed by head of household and preferably all parties. Send to Rabbi Yosef Shusterman, 303 N. Wetherly, Beverly Hills, CA 90211 or fax to (310) 271-0411. Forms must reach us no later than Thursday, April 10, 2014. Responsibility cannot be accepted for forms received later.
The First Passover Seder will be on Monday, April 14, 2014
You can use the enclosed envelope to send this form along with your Purim donation. Thank you! LET MY PEOPLE KNOW • MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774 n 19
In Aragon (Spain) there once lived a mighty ruler. His power extended over many cities where many Jews lived under his reign.
In Saragossa, the capital city, the large Jewish community took the opportunity of showing the king their appreciation. Whenever the king celebrated some special occasion with a royal parade which passed through the Jewish quarter, the leaders of the Jewish community would go forth to meet him, carrying the beautiful cases which housed their Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls). The actual Sifrei Torah they would leave behind in the synagogues. All this show of honor pleased the king mightily, and all would have been well had there not been a man in the king's court who hated the Jews and resented the king's friendly feelings towards them. This man's name was Marcus, and he looked for a way of putting the Jews in a bad light and at the same time, gaining favor for himself. When by chance Marcus learned that the Jews went to meet the king carrying empty cases, leaving the holy Sifrei Torah behind in the synagogues, he felt he had found the opportunity he was looking for, and told the king about it. The king, not a malicious but neither a very clever man, was easily convinced by the sly Marcus that the Jews meant to mock him by carrying empty cases when they went out to greet him at his parades. Seeing how angry he had managed to make the king against the Jews, Marcus quickly suggested that the king give an order to have all the Jews driven out of the land or killed. However angry the king was he had not intended doing anything so dreadful to the Jews by way of punishment, so he said: "I understand they have a powerful G-d. Would He not punish me for hurting His people?" "The Jews cannot expect mercy or consideration from their G-d. Since they live comfortably under your reign, they have drifted away from their religion and do not obey His commandments," said Marcus with conviction. "But if we send the Jews out of our land won't our country suffer? After all, they pay taxes and are useful citizens." "The Jews are really so scattered about the land that you wouldn't notice their absence very much," urged Marcus. "But is it fair to punish all the Jews? What about those who are innocent?" feebly protested the king. "Your Majesty should know that they are all the 20 n LET MY PEOPLE KNOW â€˘ MARCH 2014/ ADAR 5774
same. They all stick together in all they do, and so they are all equally to blame for the disrespect they have shown you. Besides, it is the heads of the community who come out to greet you in the procession, so surely there is no excuse for them," finished Marcus, with a smile on his face, feeling sure he had won the argument. "Look here Marcus, I am indeed very angry with the Jews and agree that they must be severely punished, if what you say is true. But I want to be fair to them, for they have so far always shown themselves to be loyal subjects. At the next parade, when the Jews come out to meet me, I'll have you riding by my side. I give you the authority to open their holy cases and, if they are found to be empty, you may carry out your plan against them. On the other hand, if what you say is untrue, then the punishment will be turned against yourself. Are you prepared to accept that? I do not intend to be made a fool of myself by anyone." Marcus, who was quite sure that he had the right information, readily agreed. He was already picturing himself riding beside the king, sitting beside the king, and being second to the king in everything. The night before the royal parade, the shamash (beadle) of the main Jewish congregation in Saragossa could not fall asleep. He was thinking about the king's visit to the Jewish quarter, and he was worried. He tossed and turned and was weighed down by a dreadful feeling that something terrible was threatening the Jewish community. He felt an urge to run out and warn the heads of the community, but thought that they would laugh at him, for everything was so nice and peaceful for them. Finally he fell into an uneasy sleep. He dreamt that an old, gray-bearded, stately man appeared before him, saying: "Arise! Waste no time. Danger threatens the Jews. Hurry to the synagogue and quickly put the Sifrei Torah inside their cases. But say not a word to anyone!" Before the shamash had a chance to say anything, the vision disappeared. He quickly awoke, trembling with fright. He pulled on some clothes and ran all the way to the Synagogue, stumbling in the dark. He was certain that the man in his dream must be none other than Elijah the Prophet, and that his dream was a serious warning which he must see to without delay. What the shamash did not know was that he was not the only one to whom the prophet had appeared. All the other Synagogue beadles in the city of Saragossa had the same dream that night. They had likewise hurried to their synagogues and secretly put the Sifrei Torah inside their cases, anxiously awaiting developments.
The following morning, the sound of the trumpets was heard in the city, heralding the beginning of the royal parade. As always, the heads of the Jewish community went out to meet the king. As the royal carriage stopped for the king to receive the greetings of the heads of the Jewish community, Marcus, who was sitting by the side of the king said: "Your Majesty surely wishes to see what is inside these things that the Jews are carrying." "Of course. Open the cases!" ordered the king. The Jews were horrified at the unexpected request. What would the king say, or do? They had no choice but to obey, so, with sinking hearts they opened up the cases and, to their wonderment and relief beheld the Sifrei Torah inside, for all to see. The king seemed quite surprised. As for Marcus, the look of expectancy and triumph disappeared from his face, which had now turned pale with fright. He tried to speak, but no words came. Instead, the king burst upon him in rage. "Traitor! Deceiver! This time you have outsmarted yourself and you shall suffer the penalty of your own vicious scheme! Have him hanged immediately!" the king ordered, and the scheming Marcus received the end he so richly deserved. As for the Jews, the king declared publicly that he had every confidence in their loyalty. As a sign of his goodwill towards them, he ordered that they be freed from paying taxes for the next three years. When the Jews learned the full story of their narrow escape, their relief and joy can better be imagined than described. They all humbly thanked G-d for His benevolence towards them and resolved to serve Him with greater devotion in the future. They also decided to observe the 17th and 18th days of Shevat as days of prayer and joyous thanks to the Almighty, so that their children and future generations would remember the story of how they had been miraculously saved from destruction at the hands of a cruel enemy. This, then, is the story of the Purim of Saragossa.
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Traditional Hamantashen Hamantashen, the classic Purim cookies, are eagerly awaited by everyone young and old. They are versatile and can be made from a good sweet yeast dough, flaky dough or from a traditional cookie dough. The fillings can be mixed and matched. Prune butter and poppy seed are traditional but one can use any kind of jam or preserves.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie By Esther Deutsch
Dairy option: Substitute the Tofutti cream cheese with dairy whipped cream cheese, the coconut milk with milk, and the pareve chocolate with milk chocolate. Ingredients: 1 9-inch chocolate graham cracker pie crust Salted peanuts, chopped PEANUT BUTTER LAYER 1 container (8 oz.) Tofutti cream cheese 1 cup peanut butter ¼ cup sugar 1 egg, beaten ¼ tsp. vanilla extract CHOCOLATE LAYER 1 bar (3.5 oz.) good-quality pareve chocolate (I like Rosemarie) 1 Tbsp. coconut milk 3 Tbsp. sugar ¼ tsp. vanilla extract 1 egg, beaten 1/2 container (4 oz.) Tofutti cream cheese Directions: Preheat the oven to 300° F. To prepare the peanut butter layer: Beat the pareve cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Spread over the bottom of the graham cracker pie crust. To prepare the chocolate layer: In the top of a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the chocolate with the coconut milk. Beat in the sugar, vanilla, egg, and pareve cream cheese. Spread gently over the peanut butter layer. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is lightly set. Do not overbake. Allow to cool to room temperature. Sprinkle the chopped salted peanuts over the pie. Chill for at least 6 hours before serving. Serves 8.
4 cups flour 4 eggs ¾ cup sugar 1 cup margarine, softened 1 Tbsp. Orange juice 1 tsp. Vanilla extract 2 tsps. Baking powder pinch of salt 1 tsp. Orange rind
1 pound prepared poppy seed filling or, 1 pound lekvar (apple or prune butter) or 1 pound strawberry or apricot preserves
Preheat oven to 350, Grease cookie sheets. Place all ingredients in a large mixer bowl and beat together. You may add a drop more juice or flour, depending in consistency of dough. Roll dough into a ball. Divide into four parts. Proceed to assemble and bake according to Hamantashen illustrated.
1. Prepare dough of your choice. Divide into four portions 2. On a floured board roll out each portion to about 1/8-inch thick. Using a round bicuit or cookie cutter cut 3-inch circles. 3. Place 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon of desired filling in the center of each circle. 4. To shape into triangle, lift up right and left sides, leaving the bottom down and bring both side to meet at the center above the filling. 5. Bring top flap down to the center to meet the two sides. Pinch edges together. 6. Place on grease cookie sheet 1 inch apart and bake at 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes.