Terumah - 5764
“When Adar Arrives, Happiness Increases” -
“May their Plots be Overturned Upon Them”
This past week, we celebrated Rosh
Chodesh Adar, the Beginning of the Month of Adar. In the middle of this
coldest of recent winters, we remember that CHAZAL announced the principle
that when this month begins, happiness should renew itself for the Jewish
People. The simple explanation of this happiness is that it stems from the
Holiday of Purim, that celebrates the fact that in ancient Persia, the
Jewish People was saved from the genocidal plot of an Amaleki descendant,
the wicked Haman.
There is a Talmudic principle that before a punishment is administered, the
remedy to ward it off is placed by Heaven into the World. Hopefully this is
true with regard to the current Rosh Chodesh as well. For this year, we face
another such plot, orchestrated by another rich man, Mel Gibson, an “Amaleki
descendant,” the son of a “Holocaust Denier,” and in that category himself,
who has created out of his own funds, a movie that portrays the last twelve
hours of Jesus. And it follows the lines of the Gospel, Matthew, that is
harshest against the Jews. The present pope not surprisingly commented after
seeing the movie, “It is as it was.” May Gibson’s plot be overturned upon
himself, and upon the pope, as was the plot of Haman overturned by HaShem,
in ancient days.
The movie, “The Passion of ...,” is to be released on February 25, “Ash
Wednesday.” In his great moderation, Gibson is supposed to have edited out a
line spoken by a Jewish character, “His blood be upon us and on our
children;” (Matthew 27:25), a line that has provoked countless murders over
the centuries of innocent Jews.
This movie may break the bonds of “friendship” between the Christian
Fundamentalists and the State of Israel. Rabbi Berel Wein, AMUS”H, always
cautioned us to be wary of their seeming close attachment, suspecting their
ulterior motive, to convert the Jews on the occasion of the supposed “Second
Coming.” During production, the character who portrays Jesus was struck
twice by lightening. But in the manner of Bilaam ignoring being spoken to by
his donkey, he shrugged it off.
Being a natural pessimist myself, I see this as a very dangerous phenomenon
for the Jewish people. But a friend has offered the opinion that perhaps it
for the best for the Jews that they know where they really stand, even in
America, where Jews have experienced greater “success” than at any other
time in the last 2,000 years of Exile.
Another event that is currently taking place on the world stage is the
opening of the case brought by our “cousins, “ the Palestinians, against the
State of Israel, in the World Court at the Hague, for construction of its
Security Fence. In these days of modern technology, it is not clear what the
value of such a fence would be, but it is not very likely that the justices
on the World Court will see Israel’s point of view.
Our weapons against Haman were the great heroes Queen Esther and Mordechai
HaYehudi, Mordechai the Jew. But even greater than their heroism as
individuals, was the fact that they triggered in the Jewish People a spirit
of repentance and renewed acceptance of the Torah, as we read in the
Megillah (Esther 9:27), “The Jews fulfilled and undertook upon themselves
and upon their descendants and upon all those associated with them, etc .”
Where these fulfillments and undertakings are interpreted by CHAZAL as
referring not only to the laws of the new holiday, Purim, but also to the
entire “Torah She-B’al Peh,” the Oral Tradition of the Talmud, that gives
the full explanation and sets the path of development of the “Torah She
B’Ketav,” the Written Law, that Moshe received at Sinai.
But there is another Holiday closely identified with happiness, and indeed
called the “Time of our Happiness;” that is, of course, Sukkot. The question
has arisen as to the nature of this “happiness.” Two approaches have been
suggested, and both are true. One is that it refers to the joy of the
harvest, as Sukkot is called “The Holiday of the Harvest.” The second is
that Sukkot follows hard upon Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement,” the
Holiest of Days, on which one’s personal sins, and the sins of the nation
are wiped away, if we have repented, and we are given a new beginning in the
Eyes of HaShem.
The Parshah read this Shabbat records the explosion of happiness and
generosity that caused the People of Israel to donate from their wealth to
the Mishkan far beyond the call of duty when they learned that their
repentance with regard to the Golden calf had been accepted by HaShem.
Would that we had, or would discover such leadership in our midst as Esther
and Mordechai and earlier, as Moshe Rabbeinu himself, to focus our attention
properly on repentance, and to maintain our courage in the face of growing
world-wide anti-Semitism. Then we would be busy donating with joy and a more
legitimate “passion” to the “Mishkan,” strengthening Jewish causes as were
our fathers, and building our true “Security Fence,” the Holy Temple, that
would not need the approval of the nations.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel