Parshat Ki Tisa By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
This week of Purim is unique in that the thirteen attributes of mercy are read in the Torah three times in one week, twice on Taanit Ester (Shacharit and Mincha) and on Shabbat as the weekly Parsha, more than any other time of the year. These readings remind us of Yom Kippur, which also has many recitations of these attributes of mercy, albeit as part of the corpus of our prayers. Indeed, the Tikunei Zohar (57b) ties a link between Yom Kippur and Purim saying that Yom Hakipurim is “ka” –like – “Purim.” According to the Kabbalists, there is a tremendous type of spiritual illumination on Purim that cannot be found even on Shabbat and Yom Tov [and Yom Kippur]! This spiritual illumination was and is the source of the great Divine compassion on Israel in the Purim miracle at the time of Mordechai and Ester and on every year. This fits perfectly with the theme of Yom Kippur as a tremendous day of compassion and forgiveness, but yet why is it only “like” Purim? According to the fore-mentioned Tikunei Zohar, Yom Kippur will turn into a day of joy like Purim in the future. Yom Kippur first appeared in our People’s history as the Day of Atonement for the Sin of the Calf read about on this week of Purim. However, we may say that while we reach a high spiritual level on Yom Kippur, the day the second tablets were given after the Sin of the Calf, on Purim we can touch this level in an aspect even before the sin. Our Sages teach that on Purim Israel received the Torah once again as they did at Sinai. However, this time they received the Torah willfully and not through “force,” as was the case at Sinai. In this way Purim touches our connection to Hashem as it flows so naturally from our essence as the “sons of Hashem” who want to perform their Father’s Will willfully. This may also explain the teaching of our Sages that in the future all festivals will be considered as if obsolete in the context of the great miracles of the Redemption, but yet Purim will continue with its grandeur as it says “and these days [of Purim] will not cease from their generations.”
The thirteen attributes of mercy we have mentioned are attributed to the attribute of the Kabbalistic sefira “keter” – “crown,” according to the Kabbalists. In the famous book “Tomer Devora” of the Ramak, specific guidance is given as to how one should strive to emulate these thirteen attributes of mercy in practice. When a world epidemic called “Corona,” which means “crown,” is rampant today we may see these as a sign to study and utilize the attributes of the crown, just like the bronze snake in the Wilderness was meant to point the People’s attention to the Divine message in the biting snakes at that time. This does not mean that we should blame People who have Coronavirus for being faulty [for the ways of the Divine are especially complex] in regard to attributes of the “crown,” but rather to attempt to bring about the rectification of the world through our study and utilization of these attributes. Therefore, it seems befitting to study these attributes of the “crown” – the thirteen attributes of mercy in the book “Tomer Devora” and other books that deal with this topic, especially at this auspicious time of Purim when Israel is also especially united together through joy, compassion, and unity. This is also the time to bring “matanot le’evyonim/“mishloah manot” especially to those who we have had difficulty with throughout the year, and this too is a lofty act of love, peace, rectification, and forgiveness, touching a place of love that, to a certain extent, even surpasses asking forgiveness in the context of Yom Kippur, for if this overture of love was made at the outset there is a high probability that misconduct would not have been made in the first instance [this, of course, does not mean that asking forgiveness should be “skipped” in any instance].
In Hebron these messages flow so naturally, for Hebron means unity and is also the burial site of the common roots of all Israel and all mankind, Adam and our Patriarchs. The advice of Harvona to hang Haman on the very tree he prepared for Mordechai was a turning point in the Megila, and also the letters of Harvona in a slightly different order – “Hevrona” – was the turning point in Israel’s Redemption, for this word was said to King David by Hashem, saying that he should take power over all Israel in Hebron – after a civil war bringing Israel to great national unity, beginning the Kingdom of David, the forerunner of Mashiach. This is the power of these letters h.r.v or h.v.r which are mentioned for the first time in the Torah in context of the “haherev hamitapehet” (Breshit ch. 3) – showing that these letters contain within them the context of turning things into their opposite – “mitahapehet” – which of course is the message of Purim “naahafoch hu,” of Harvona and of Hebron.
Miracles from the Holy Land:
The “saving” of the Jewish community of Hebron was celebrated throughout many years in Hebron on the fourteenth of Kislev (which occurred at the end of last week) called “The Window Purim” after the following miracle: A cruel Pasha ruled over Hebron in 5574 (1824). One day he summoned the head of Hebron’s Jewish Community. The Pasha demanded the following ultimatum: In three days you will bring me 50,000 grushim. If you do not, half of your community will be burned and the others sold as slaves. Consequently, the rabbis declared a fast, and everyone gathered in the synagogue pouring their hearts out before Hashem. They fasted for three days — night and day. At midnight, before the third day began, the Pasha suddenly awoke to the sight of three awesome old men standing by his bed. They demanded of him 50,000 grushim. Refusal meant immediate death. The frightened Pasha was petrified. But he managed to get out of bed and gave them his purse full of gold coins. He added his wife’s gold necklace, to complete the requested sum. The next morning the Pasha sent soldiers to demand the tax he had decreed upon the Jews of Hebron. When they pounded on the gate of the Jewish quarter, a Jew ran to open it. But before he got to the gate, he stumbled over a bag lying on the ground and picked it up. The Jew noticed a small window by the side of the gate where he had found the bag. He ran with the bag to the synagogue and returned to open the gate. I read this 5 times and can’t visualize what happened with the gate and window. ]Meanwhile, other Jews opened the bag and found it filled with gold coins. Counting it, they found that it was the exact amount the Pasha had demanded of them. Joyously they ran to the Pasha’s home to pay him the money he had demanded, in addition to the gold necklace that was in the bag. The Pasha, seeing the money and the necklace was stunned, and said, “Be aware, the bag and its contents are mine. It was taken from me last night by the three Patriarchs, to save my soul from an evil sin. And now, knowing that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob awoke for fear of your lives, and for your sakes, they rose from their graves, from this moment I have only the greatest respect for you. I cancel my decree. Take back this money. It belongs to you. Pray for me that I should be saved from misfortune all the days of my life.”
Sources: Sefer Hebron p. 30