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Browse Zemanim: Pourim: Accepting the Torah with Love

Contributed by: R. Shaul Chamoula

When the Jews came to Har Sinai to accept the Torah, it states that they stood under the mountain (Shemot 19:17). The Gemara in Shabbat (88a) is bothered by the terminology "under the mountain," and explains that Hashem lifted up the mountain and posed an ultimatum to Bnei Yisrael; if they accept the entire Torah, they will be spared; however, if they did not, Hashem would bury them under the mountain.

The Midrash Tanhuma explains that this ultimatum refers to the acceptance of the Oral Torah (Torah Shebealpeh) and not to the written Torah, because the Oral Torah has many more details than the Written Torah. The Gemara continues and states that since we were forced to accept the Torah, one has the perfect defense after one's lifetime, one can claim in the Bet Din Shel Ma'alah (heavenly court), that one did not practice the Torah because one was forced to accept it and he never accepted it with love.

For generations, this thought was metaphorically, in the subconscious collective mind of the Jewish nation. But then, the miracle of Pourim happened. The Gemara in Megillah (14a) states that the transferring of Ahashverosh's signet ring to Haman was more beneficial to Am Yisrael, then all of the prophets that the nation ever had. The prophets with all their hard work could not convince Am Yisrael to return to Hashem the way our arch-enemy Haman did with one swoop of anti-Semitism.

It was then that Am Yisrael accepted the Torah with love, as the Gemara in Shabbat 88A states in the name of Rava: We read in Megillat Esther קימו וקבלו היהודים "they practiced and accepted" (9:27). This statement is seemingly out of order, for it should have said קבלו וקימו first they accepted and then they practiced. However Rava explains that they practiced now what they accepted earlier on Har Sinai. It took the miracle of Pourim for Am Yisrael to finally accept the whole Torah with love, leaving no more excuses for a person that doesn't practice it.

What was so special about the miracle of Pourim that caused such a realization? The answer is that the miracle of Pourim was a hidden miracle where Hashem used "natural" means to save his people whereas the prior miracles were open miracles where Hashem would change nature to save his people. When nature is changed to help you, a person will be inspired only for a short time and then it will wear off, after all, he will say that in only happened once. However, when nature is used, a person can see how Hashem is constantly helping them without performing an eye-opening miracle. This recognition brought the Jews in those days to reaccept the Torah with love. May we use the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to Torah, by devoting a few minutes, if not more, to study Torah with love, as the Jews of Shushan did many years ago. Pourim Sameah!
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