Rabbi Yehoshua Weber

Dedicated  by Josh & Bronya Levi לז”נ לאה בת טוביה, whose yahrtzeit is on Purim.

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The duality, you’ve noticed it, haven’t you?

Almost everything connected with Purim has a mirror image.

Two heroes, Mordechai and Esther, defend us.

Two villains, Haman and Achashveirosh, conspire against us.

Two servants, Bigsan and Teresh, try to kill King Achashveirosh.

We are commanded to give charitable gifts – to at least two paupers.

Our mishloach manos must contain at least two different foods.

Megillah reading, in variance with other communal mitzva readings, occurs twice, once at night and once during the day.

And, most conspicuously, there are dual celebrations.

Most of us celebrate Purim on the 14th of Adar.

But some of us – those who live in cities that were walled in ancient times – celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar. Here, Purim’s division of communities is in stark contrast to the unity that is the raison d’etre of the other holidays.

Indeed, other holidays are called chagim, “circlings,” moments when all members of klal yisrael “circles” together in displays of achdus.

Rav Yitzchak Hutner, in a thoughtful essay in his work Pachad Yitzchak, offers a perspective on this duality. Purim, Rav Hutner notes, celebrates the defeat of antisemitism.

Such antisemitism, Rav Hutner notes, is a two-pronged monster.

Anti-Semites persecute Jewish individuals wherever they live. Anti-Semites also abhor and obstruct our Jewish national destiny.

Achashveirosh was expressing an animosity towards Jewish individuals; the first form of anti Semitism.

Haman’s hatred had a different basis.

Haman, as an Amalekite, was the progeny of people who considered themselves Eretz Yisrael’s rightful heirs.

Indeed, Amalekites attacked us when we departed Egypt so as to obstruct our access to Eretz Yisrael.

Haman – who noticed us regrouping for resettling Eretz Yisrael so as to build the second beis hamikdash fought against our national destiny.

Haman was expressing the second form of antisemitism.

We allude to how antisemitism challenges us by dividing Purim – which is about overcoming antisemitism – into two celebrations, one focusing on unwalled cities with the other focusing on walled cities.

Unwalled cities have no visible defense mechanism. They, therefore, represent Achasvairosh’s anti-Semitism as it stalks the unprotected individual Jews.

Walled cites, on the other hand, are protected.

Such cities represent a nation-state’s – with all of its defensive capacities and recall the fight against our national destiny.

Two celebrations, one in unwalled cities and the other in walled cities, to commemorate the defeat of two forms of antisemitism.

Purim isn’t just about what happened then.

Purim is about what is happening now.

And one such event – may Hashem protect everyone there – is the war in the Ukraine.

There is concern for everyone’s – Jewish and non-Jewish – suffering.

There is also concern – magnified by Jewry’s presence in this conflict as per Ukraine’s Jewish prime minister, Russia’s and Ukraine’s large Jewish populations and Israel’s role in negotiations – about how this will impact on worldwide Jewry and on Israel.

Purim is about redoubling our efforts so as to counter any challenging of Jewish individuals and of the Jewish nation.

Purim is about redoubled charitable involvement as seen in our double matanos.

That should express itself in addressing Ukrainian – and everyone’s needs.

Purim is about redoubled statements of unity as seen through the two items placed in shalash manos.

That should express itself in us connecting with brethren everywhere.

Purim, with its double reading of the Megillah, is about a redoubled realization that Hakadosh Baruch Hu provides salvation.

This Purim, let us sincerely redouble of our efforts.

Let those redoubled efforts lead to a redoubling of Divine mercy and to a negation of all pain and suffering.

Rabbi Weber is founder of Ohr Tzvi Montebello-Monsey. Please visit his website, ohrtzvi.org, to sign up for his weekly email message or for information on his live or zoom shiurim. Rabbi Weber will be mara d’asra at the Honor’s Haven Resort for Pesach. For information, please email or call (845) 794-6000