Purim – The Geirus in the Time of Mordechai

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One of the most beloved (at least for children, if not for their mothers) customs of Purim is the wearing of costumes. There are numerous explanations, but we will try to explain here a novel explanation as proposed by Rav Shlomo Alkavetz in the Menos HaLevi, and also by the Sfas Emes.

In the Megilah[1] we learn that the miracle of Purim is seemingly not complete, till we see that “many of the nations of the world convert, since the fear of Mordechai was upon them.” This is difficult on a number of levels. Firstly, on the Halachic level, how can such a conversion be accepted? Second, why does this need to be part of the Megilah? Is it not sufficient that the Jews reaccepted the Torah, as is well known that we accepted what we were coerced to accept at Har Sinai?

The Halachic issue is dealt with in the Gemarra in Yevamos[2]. There we learn that Geirim will not be accepted in the time of the Moshiach. A conversion is only valid when done for completely altruistic reasons. Therefore, the Gemarra says that Geirim in the time of Mordechai are not Geirim. But that just makes the issue more difficult as to why the Pasuk does refer to them as converts, and why it is part of the Megilah.

The Ibn Ezra on the Megila[3] is troubled by the word itself and finally says that it means they attached themselves to the tribe of Yehudah. But even if that explains the Dikduk, what does it mean? The answer seems that there is a special connection between Yehudah and the acceptance of converts as the Midrash[4] says that Yehudah is accustomed to accept Geirim. And even though Mordechai is from Binyomin, we first meet him as a Yehudi. As the Shevet of Malchus, the acceptance of Geirim seems to be part of their makeup. The ultimate gal is that the nations should recognize HaShem. Therefore, Yehudah who is the ancestor of Moshiach, accepts Geirim who are a bridge to all the rest of the nations. But still why is this part of the Megilah, which does not seem to be connected to Yehudah?

The Maharal[5] views this a positive development. He says that in no other Galus do we find this kind of acceptance of HaShem by the nations. But actually as we said this is the goal of the entire Galus. In Ovadiah who descends from Edom, and his entire Nevuah is about the downfall of Edom, his final conclusion is that HaShem will be the ruler of the entire world. Therefore, since here we overcome Haman from Amalek, there is a nicro-fulfillment of that Nevuah. So we also have an acceptance of HaShem by many of the other nations. And this is the function of Moshiach, so this is described as a connected to Yehudah.

This idea is actually found in the Midrash[6]. We are told that Mordechai can be compared to Moshe and Avrohom. Avrohom wanted all the nations to recognize HaShem, so too Mordechai desired this, and that is why he accepted these converts. This was the original goal of Avrohom and Mordechai is only doing what Avrohom desired to do.

And the Midrash also says, that just as Moshe taught Klal Yisroel the Torah so too Mordechai taught Klal Yisroel the Torah. We can take this idea even further, based on the writings of Rabbeinu Moshe Dovid Vali on the Megilah. As is well known based on the Gemarra in Shabbos[7], Purim is a second acceptance of the Torah. It is explained that at Har Sinai they accepted willingly Torah Sh’Bichsav, bbut the Torah Shbal Peh was forced upon them. In the time of Purim, they also accepted Torah Shbal Peh. That is what the Midrash means that Moshe and Mordechai taught Torah. They each caused an acceptance of one of the parts of the Torah.

Moshe accepted the Erev Rav, thinking to complete the reign of HaShem on all the nations. The issue of Moshe accepting the Erev Rav is discussed in many places. On the one hand they cause the sin of the Eigel. But the original goal of Moshe was the complete dissemination fo the Torah to all the nations. But since their conversion was not complete, they are the final Galus. The Vilna Gaon and his Talmidim based on the Zohar discuss this at great length. Only when we are purified of the Erev Rav, will the final Geulah arrive.

So too did Mordechai do the same thing. He thought that just as like by the acceptance of Torah Shbichsav, all the nations should be represented, as Moshe thought; the same should be true at the second acceptance of Torah Shbal Peh. Therefore, he accepted these Geirim. Even further we can use this to explain a Gemarra that says the sons of Haman also taught Torah. Even they could be part of the acceptance of the Torah.

But continues the RAMAD Vali, these Geirim are actually the part of the nation that in the time of second Bais HaMikdash did not accept Torah Shbal Peh and caused the tremendous Machlokes of the Tzedukim. They ended just like the Eirav Rav. This fits perfectly with what we learnt before. The Torah Shbal Peh needed to be accepted willingly. Since the Misyahadim only accepted it because of fear it remains not a part of their Torah, and they do not act according to it.

And that is why we wear costumes[8]. These converts were only on the outside, so we act like them to remind HaShem how there are people who only act on the outside not on the inside. But we Klal Yisroel when it was decreed that we should be wiped out did not change our dress. We remained as Jews, and did not try to be non-Jews. But the non-Jews at the slightest danger are faking whom they are, and try to dress up as Jews on the outside. Therefore, we daven to HaShem on Purim, to accept us since we are not faking whom we are, but we accept the Torah completely.

May our Purim be a true acceptance of Torah both inside and out, and may be Zoche to all the nations recognizing HaShem!!

[1]  אסתר פרק ח – (יז) וּבְכָל מְדִינָה וּמְדִינָה וּבְכָל עִיר וָעִיר מְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר דְּבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ וְדָתוֹ מַגִּיעַ שִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׂוֹן לַיְּהוּדִים מִשְׁתֶּה וְיוֹם טוֹב וְרַבִּים מֵעַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ מִתְיַהֲדִים כִּי נָפַל פַּחַד הַיְּהוּדִים עֲלֵיהֶם:

[2]  יבמות דף כד/ב –  שהיה רבי נחמיה אומר אחד גירי אריות ואחד גירי חלומות ואחד גירי מרדכי ואסתר אינן גרים עד שיתגיירו בזמן הזה בזמן הזה ס”ד אלא אימא כבזמן הזה

[3] אבן עזרא על מגילת אסתר פרק ח פסוק יז –  מתיהדים – מלה זרה … ויתכן היות מתיהדים שיתיחסו על שבט יהודה והנה יהיה בדקדוק יפה:

[4]  ספר יערות דבש – חלק שני – דרוש ב –  אך ידוע מ”ש במדרש על יהודה, למוד אותו שבט לקבל גרים יהודה, שוע, ותמר, ובועז, רות, ושלמה, נעמה העמונית, ומהם יצא כל זרע בית ד

[5]  ספר אור חדש עמוד רג – ורבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים (שם) וגו’ דבר זה לא נמצא בשאר גאולות רק בכאן שהוא נצוח עמלק לפי שגורם עמלק לבטל אחדות הש”י וכדכתיב (עובדיה כ”א)ועלו מושיעים. לשפוט את הר עשו והיתה לה’ המלוכה וגו’ ולכך בכאן שהפילו עמלק היו רבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים כאשר היה בטל כח המן.

[6] מדרש רבה אסתר פרשה ו פסקה ב – איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה איש מלמד שהיה מרדכי שקול בדורו כמשה בדורו דכתיב ביה (במדבר י”ב) והאיש משה ענו מאד מה משה עמד בפרץ דכתיב (תהלים ק”ו) ויאמר להשמידם לולי משה בחירו עמד בפרץ וגו’ אף מרדכי כן דכתיב דורש טוב לעמו ודובר שלום לכל זרעו מה משה לימד תורה לישראל דכתיב (דברים ד’) ראה למדתי אתכם חקים ומשפטים אף מרדכי כן דכתיב דברי שלום ואמת וכתיב (משלי כ”ג) אמת קנה ואל תמכור …וי”א שהיה שקול כאברהם בדורו מה אברהם אבינו מסר את עצמו לתוך כבשן האש והחזיר והכיר לבריות גדולתו של הקב”ה הה”ד (בראשית י”ב) ואת הנפש אשר עשו בחרן אף מרדכי בימיו הכירו הבריות גדולתו של הקב”ה הה”ד ורבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים וייחד שמו של הקב”ה וקדשו ולפיכך נקרא יהודי דכתיב איש יהודי אל תקרי יהודי אלא יחידי:

[7]  שבת דף פח/א – ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר אמר רב אבדימי בר חמא בר חסא מלמד שכפה הקדוש ברוך הוא עליהם את ההר כגיגית ואמר להם אם אתם מקבלים התורה מוטב ואם לאו שם תהא קבורתכם אמר רב אחא בר יעקב מכאן מודעא רבה לאורייתא אמר רבא אף על פי כן הדור קבלוה בימי אחשורוש דכתיב קימו וקבלו היהודים קיימו מה שקיבלו כבר

[8]  שפת אמת ליקוטים – מגילת אסתר – ורבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים, י”ל שבערמה התלבשו מלבוש יהודית, בעבור שנפל פחד היהודים עליהם, ויהי’ בזה רמז למנהג העולם להחליף המלבושים בפורים:

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