Thursday, April 18, 2019



The second day of Pesach is the yahrtzeit, of an important individual who had an indelible impact upon the Jewish people, not just for his generation but for all time. It’s hard to imagine what the world and the Jewish people would look like without him. The yahrtzeit is that of Haman harasha who was hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordechai on the second day of Pesach. The holiday of Purim which gives us so much chizuk was the unwitting result of his efforts. It’s ironic that the beginning of the salvation of the Purim story actually occurs on Pesach.
Many have the custom, especially in Chassidic courts, to sing Shoshanas Yaakov and to have a “seudas Esther Hamalka” on the second day of Pesach, to commemorate the miracle that occurred that day.
The second day of Pesach is immediately after we have completed the Seder (here in galus for the second time). Our sedorim are extremely precious and Hashem has tremendous nachas from our efforts.
There is a virtually unbroken chain of Sedorim going back thousands of years to the exodus itself in 2448. Families have been elevated by the same mitzvos and rituals we continue to perform today for centuries. However, it’s actually not an unbroken chain. In the year 3404 there was no Seder, no Jew ate matzah or marror, there was no sippur yetzias Mitzrayim, and there was no Haggadah. Instead the entire nation was in middle of a three day fast, in which they were davening and begging for their lives to be spared from the evil decree of Haman.
Why did they have to fast during the day of the Seder? Why couldn’t Mordechai and Esther have instructed the fasts to begin on Chol Hamoed? Wouldn’t the zechus of the Seder have helped them?
The Tiferes Shlomo of Radomsk explains that we cannot fathom the greatness of the Seder: "והנה בחג הפסח הקדוש הזה לא יאומן כי יסופר מקהלות רבבות הסודות והיחודים אשר נעשים בעולמות העליונים על ידי ישראל בסדר ליל שמורים ואכילת מצה ומרור וסיפור יציאת מצרים בהגדה בלילה זאת- Behold during this holy holiday of Pesach it is impossible to even relate a small amount of the esoteric and ethereal spiritual greatness that is produced in the upper worlds through the efforts of the Jewish people on the guarded night of the Seder, and by eating matzah and marror, and relating the story of the exodus in the Haggadah on this night.”
Mordechai and Esther understood that if they were to cancel the Seder that year, it would cause such heartache in heaven as it were, that it would “break the heart of Hashem”, if such a thing could be said. Fasting during the Seder was done purposely to bring about that arousal of compassion in shomayim:

"לכן אסתר הצדקת כאשר ידעה היא כי כל קיום העולמות תלוי רק בבני ישראל התחכמה בזה לעורר אהבת ה׳ יתברך על עמו לאמר כי בלעדם לא יתקיים העולם אם כן איך יאבדו חלילה – Therefore, the righteous Esther, knowing that the existence of the upper worlds is based on the B’nei Yisrael, was wise in doing this to awaken the love of G-d, may He be blessed, for His people, saying that without them the world cannot exist, so how can they be destroyed, heaven forfend.”
If one thinks about it however, there was a sippur that year. Although there was no sippur yetzias Mitzrayim, there was a very different type of sippur the following day. The Megillah relates ויספר המן לזרש אשתו ולכל אוהביו - Haman arrogantly related to his family about all his prestige and wealth.
We spend the entire Seder night speaking of nothing but the praises of Hashem and expressing our gratitude for all He did for us. וכל המרבה לספר הרי זה משובח. We sing dayenu and Hallel together with great emotion and love.
That year too, Haman fulfilled כל המרבה לספר but it was a self-centered hateful sippur, the polar opposite of what we accomplish on Seder night.[2]
In addition, the night when Klal Yisroel didn’t read from the Haggadah, Hashem arranged that there would indeed be a Haggadah - one that would be the key to the beginning of the salvation. וימצא כתוב אשר הגיד מרדכי על בגתנא ותרש.
The Gemara Megillah relates that on what would be the final day of his life, Haman entered the Bais Medrash to summon Mordechai to parade him through the streets of Shushan as he had been instructed by Achashveirosh.
When Mordechai saw Haman, he assumed Haman was coming to kill him. He told his students to flee, but they refused. Haman waited patiently until Mordechai completed his shiur and davening.[3]
When Mordechai finished, Haman asked him what he was learning. Mordechai explained that when the Bais Hamikdash stood, on that day[4] they would offer the Korbon Omer from barley. Haman replied “come, get up and don these royal robes, because your fistful of barley has outweighed the ten thousand silver talents I offered Achashveirosh to wipe you out.”
What a shiur Haman gave! What a novel idea!
What’s the connection between the Omer and the silver he offered Achashverosh?
The Chinuch explains that the Omer was brought from barley, which is animal food. On Shavuos, on the day of the conclusion of counting the Omer, the Shtei Halechem - two loaves of bread were offered in the Bais Hamikdash. Those loaves were made of wheat.
The goal of the counting of the Omer is to transform us from animalistic creatures who follow our base drives into mentchen - humans who have self-control and self-discipline.
When Haman heard that Mordechai was still learning about that concept, despite the fact that he and his entire people were about to be destroyed, he realized that the Jewish people were indestructible. He thought he could set a price for them, but he now saw that they were priceless. Their quest for greatness could never be squelched and such a people are eternal.[5]
The whole essence of Haman as descendant of Amalek is the force of randomness - There is no G-d, everything is coincidence, luck, and chance. את כל אשר קרהו - just like pasuk says about his ancestor Amalek - אשר קרך בדרך - it’s all happenstance.
The holiday of overcoming Haman is called Purim - lots. Haman used lots which are the epitome of luck and chance.
Haman is destroyed on the day of “Seder”. We call the night “Seder” to remind ourselves that everything that happened at that time including all the miracles and the exodus, as well as the events of our daily lives, are all based on a precise dictated Seder - the order that Hashem has set.
The randomness of Haman and the lottery of Amalek, is overcome on the morning after Seder - the precision of the divine.
שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו... והקב״ה מצילנו מידם” – For in every generation they stood against us to destroy us… And G-d saves us from their hand.”
Haman, Pharaoh, Lavan - and continuing to our contemporary enemies - Iran, ISIS, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
The sippur is not a story of the past, but a story of contemporary protection from Hashem in every generation, until we will finally celebrate the ultimate redemption when all our enemies will be destroyed forever.

“For in every generation…
           And G-d saves us from their hand”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

[1] Derasha given in Kehillat New Hempstead, 2 Pesach 5778
[2] My parents used to have napkins that said “don’t talk about yourself; we’ll do that after you leave!” It’s too bad Haman didn’t have those napkins...
[3] It’s an unbelievable story. The archenemy himself stands respectfully waiting, and then asks about his shiur...
[4] 16 Nissan, second day of Pesach
[5] Such an attitude has been repeated many times during our history. During the Holocaust, knowing that they were about to be arrested by the gestapo, Rav Elchanan Wasserman and Rav Avrohom Grozdenski continued giving shiurim in the Kovno Ghetto, even as they heard gunfire outside. They continued literally until they were led out to their deaths. Haman recognized at that moment that the fistful of barley which symbolized their quest for growth couldn’t be extinguished.


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