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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Shemot: Parashat Tissaveh: Mordechai the Yehudi

Contributed by: David Alhadeff

This week we read Parashat Zakhor, the remembrance for Bene Yisrael to destroy Amalek: "zakhor, et asher asah lekha Amaleq." "Remember what Amaleq has done to you."

Hakhamim tell us that reading Parashat Zakhor is a Misva from the Torah. What makes this reading so important that we are obligated on a Biblical level?

In attempting to answer this question, we must venture into the words of the Rambam in Hilkhot Megilla, Halakha 18. He writes that all books of the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be nullified in the days of Mashiah with the exception of Megilat Esther. As well, all remembrances of "sarot" (sorrows) will be forgotten, except for those that happened during the days of Purim.

We are introduced to Mordechai in the Megillah as "Ish Yehudi" and when he finds out all that has been happening to the Jews in Paras and Madai, pasuk 4:1 states; "Mordechai was aware of all that had happened." Rashi comments on this and says that he was aware that his people had bowed down to Nebuchadnezzar in the past and that they had derived benefit from the seuda of Ahashverosh. The Targum on the Megilla, tells us that Ahashverosh had dressed up in the Bigde Kehuna for this Seuda. Not only did the Jews eat and drink, but Rashi states that they also were "Nehene," deriving the utmost benefit and pleasure from this seuda.

In his refusal to bow down to Haman, the Amalekite descendant, and head advisor to Ahashverosh, we see clearly why Mordechai was tagged as "Ish Yehudi" even though he was from Shevet Binyamin. Mordechai's aim was to obliterating Avodah Zara and with the knowledge of the situation in the regions of Paras and Madai, refused to let history repeat itself and did not surrender to Haman.

Through the actions of Mordechai, we can see why Parashat Zakhor remains a Misva from the Torah as well as why the Rambam states that the sorrow from the days of Purim and the Megila will be everlasting through the days of Mashiah. We see that Mordechai was a leader in a time of idol worship, and he also gave his people the hope to one day return to Israel. These are goals and aspirations that we as a people can keep with us forever. Mordechai and the story of Purim, represent these attributes of leadership and redemption.

How fitting that we read Parashat Tesave this week prior to Zakhor. In Parashat Tesave we read that G-D commands Moshe to tell Aharon to make the Bigde’ Kehuna, as the pasuk 28:12 states that the two stones placed on the shoulders of the kohen gadol will be a "Remembrance" (Zikaron), of the twelve tribes of Israel. As we stated before, the targum on the Megillah writes that Ahashverosh had sported these garments at his Seuda. We see from the pasuk in Tesave that these garments and the stones included must be a "Zikaron" only for the most pure and original purpose, the service of G-D.
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