20 February 2012

Sequel to "Amalek is alive and well..." Pt. 5

28 Shevat 5772

(Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4)

Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen of Aish HaTorah says in his Torah From Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen:

The Gemara tells us that the terrible decree to destroy the Jewish people was a punishment for their partaking of the banquet of Achashveirosh . Throughout the period of the first Beis HaMikdash, the Prophets were rebuking the Jewish people for terrible sins, including Avoda Zara, and yet they were never sentenced to universal destruction - why was such a drastic punishment reserved for the seemingly mild aveiro of eating at Achashveirosh’s banquet?

In order to answer this question let us first discuss the intentions of Achashveirosh in throwing such a lavish banquet. Chazal tell us that the drinks were served in the keilim that were used in the Avoda in the Beis HaMikdash. The King even dressed himself in the clothes of the Kohen Gadol - what was he trying to achieve by doing this? Rav Chaim Halpern Shlita explains that up till this point in time, Achashveirosh had been worried about the prophecy of Yeremyahu that the Jewish people would return to Eretz Yisroel and rebuild the Beis HaMikdash after 70 years. The King calculated that the 70 years had now passed without any sign of the prophecy being fulfilled. Consequently, on the exact day that he had calculated that the time was up he held the feast - he was trying to tell the Jews that they should give up hope of the Beis HaMikdash and that they now had an alternative source of happiness - his Kingdom. Therefore, he dressed up as the Kohen Gadol to show that he was their new leader, and he gave them the Temple vessels to show them that there was no point in waiting any longer for the Beis HaMikdash to be rebuilt .

Unfortunately, the Jewish people accepted the King’s message and willfully joined in the Seuda, even drinking from the Temple vessels. They gave up hope - they terminated their desire for a Second Beis HaMikdash, and turned to a new future, being loyal subjects of the King and his Empire. What in effect they had done was give up on the unique role of the Jewish people as the Chosen People who were meant to serve as a Light Unto the Nations. They forsook any hope of a return to Eretz Yisroel and a new Beis HaMikdash. What they did not realize is that the Jewish people’s whole right to existence is based on their unique role in the world. Hashem cherishes the Jewish people because of its willingness to serve as an Am Segula who teaches the world to know Him. Now that they did not want to assume this unique role they automatically forsook any right to exist. Measure for measure, they were sentenced to destruction.

This explains what precipitated the first Purim decree. Now we will look at how those same conditions might have been manifested in mid-20th century Europe.

Sequel - Part 6

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