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(5741) The explanation of the three verses that the children recited (Esther Rabbah 17:7); Three levels of Chinuch  


1. It is told in the Megillah that after Haman’s letters (to the governors of the king’s provinces) were sealed with the decree on the Yidden and that they were “given into the hand of Haman” - that Haman with “all of his cohorts” went happily and encountered Mordechai.

Mordechai (then) saw “three children that were coming from school”. He ran after them and Haman and his cohorts followed, in order to hear what Mordechai would ask them. When Mordechai reached the children he asked one of them: ‘“psok li psukeich” – “tell me your verse,” (i.e. explain. the verse they were studying at the time.)

· The first child replied, “Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction by the wicked when it comes.”

· The second child offered, ‘I read this verse today and I stopped at this verse when I left school: “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G-d-decree is with us.”

· The third child offered: ‘To your old age I am (with you); to your hoary years I will sustain you; I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you.’

When Mordechai heard their replies (of the verses), he laughed and was exceedingly happy. Haman said to him ‘What is this happiness, that you rejoiced so over the words of these children?’ Mordechai responded, “I rejoice in the good tidings the children have brought me, that I should not fear the evil plot you have conspired against us.” Haman immediately became enraged, and vowed ‘I will not strike, without striking these children first!’”

The reason, simply, that Mordechai rejoiced over hearing the verse of the child – is because he saw in this a prophecy that he did not have to fear the decree of Haman.

And as we find in many places in the Talmud - the concept of “recite for me your verse” is that – the verse which a child says is like a prophecy (and so forth) from Above.

This however is seemingly not sufficient, in our case:

For according to this – if this is the main lesson of the story – what relevance, is there to tell us the details, that he met the children as they were returning from school, and that there were three children who said three verses?

And although the other details of the story – namely - that which he met the children (not – that he sought them out) and also that which more than one child recited the verse with a subject matter of good tidings etc. - emphasize more the lesson and prophecy – However, the detail that they “came from school”, and that he (specifically) met three children - does not do so.

2. All aspects in Torah are with the epitome of precision. This means that also, the order and the details of the wording in this story are precise and relevant to the topic.

One must understand:

1. The order that the children said the three verses (

· “Do not fear – “Al Tirah”

· “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled” – “Utzu Eitzah”

· ‘To your old age I am with you” – “V’ad Zikna” )

is not according to the order of how they are in Tanach:

The verses: “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled” – “Utzu Eitzah” and ‘To your old age I am with you” – “V’ad Zikna” are in sefer Yeshaya, which is, in the order of the Tanach, before Mishlei where the verse: “Do not fear – “Al Tirah” was said.

(And it is probable that the order of study that the child learned in school - was according to the order of the Writings)

And it is also not an order from the latest to the first (מן המאוחר אל המוקדם) – because if so – then they should have said the latter verse in Yeshaya: “V’ad Zikna” before “Utzu Eitzah”.

2. Concerning the first child, it states in the Midrash that he immediately without preamble said the verse. Whereas by the second child it states: “The second child opened with, ‘I read this verse today and I stopped at this verse when I left school”. In other words, on that day, he learned other verses, however, he stopped at that verse.

This is not understood:

Did the first child, then just learn in school on that day, the one verse of “Al Tirah” and no more?

3. Since Mordechai accepted this as a prophecy, why did he state the words “I rejoice in the good tidings (בשורות טובות) the children have brought me” and not “I rejoice in the good prophecy that I had”, or something to that effect?

3. There is another thing that requires explanation:

 As it is told in the Midrash, the time of the aforementioned episode, was right after the letters of the decree were sealed. Thus even from that time, Mordechai had a great happiness from the good tidings – that there is nothing to fear from Haman’s evil plot. If so, why subsequently, was there this whole fury (שטורעם) of:

“And Mordechai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and he went out into the midst of the city and cried (with) a loud and bitter cry“. And the elaboration of the details that Mordechai did and told Esther to do (as it states in the Megillah)?

From all this it is apparent that Mordechai did not accept the verses that the children recited as an actual prophecy (נבואה ממש). Yet, if so it is difficult to understand why he “he laughed and was exceedingly happy”?

4. The gist of the explanation may be understood by prefacing:

 The decree was:

“To destroy, kill, and cause to perish all the Jews, both young and old, little children and women”.

And regarding the reason for the decree it is stated:

1.       in the Megillah and

2.       In the Midrashim of the Sages.

In the Megillah it is told that this began because:

“All the king's servants . .would kneel and prostrate themselves before Haman . . but Mordechai would neither kneel nor prostrate himself etc. and Haman became full of wrath. But it seemed contemptible to him to lay hands on Mordechai alone, for they had told him Mordechai's nationality, and Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, Mordechai's people”.

This means that when Haman inquired and examined why Mordechai did not bow to him and he found out that this was not due to Mordechai‘s individual doing (אייגנשאפטן) – as one of the leaders of the Sanhedrin and the leader of the Yidden etc., but rather because “they told him Mordechai's nationality” that “he was a Jew” – meaning that the reason for his manner was because he is a Yid. In other words, that he only believes in G-d, and rejects all idolatry – anything that considers itself an entity. This evoked in Haman tremendous anger, as it states: “Haman became full of wrath”.

And since the reason that “Mordechai would neither kneel nor prostrate himself” was “because he was a Jew” – therefore “it seemed contemptible to him to lay hands on Mordechai alone” –

In other words, since the reason that Mordechai did not bow, was because it is the foundation of Judaism which is found in all Yidden –

 “From young to old, little children and women”,

therefore it was not solely Mordechai (that did not recognize his being), but rather that the entire “nation of Mordechai” does not recognize his being, and certainly – would not bow to him. Therefore Haman sought a way to “destroy all the Jews”.

5. However, how is it possible that Haman was able to bring such a sever decree on the Yidden?

The Sages state that the (spiritual) reason was “because they had bowed to (Nebuchadnezzar’s) image”. Therefore since there was, by the Yidden, such a deed and motion

(Even though it was just pretend (בלויז לפנים), without intent, at all (בלא לב ולב כלל))

which is contrary to the foundation of Judaism, and affects the essential bond between them and G-d – this , therefore, brought the decree of destruction, may G-d save us . For the entire being and existence of a Yid is their connection with G-d.

And this was Mordechai’s worry, so much so that he “put on sackcloth and ashes . .and cried (with) a loud and bitter cry”. For Mordechai “knew all that had transpired” – he knew the cause that brought the decree - which was his worry:

For perhaps, in their “bowing to the image” there was an aspect of idol worship, G-d forbid. And even if the “bowing” was just pretend, just outwardly, it showed, however, that the foundation of Judaism and faith, was not revealed within them. For if this had been revealed, it would have effected that:

“They would not have been able to touch even his garments which refer to the thought, speech and deed in the faith in the One G-d.” It would have been rather, that they would have had “self-sacrifice, to the extent of even refusing to do some single act that is contrary to the faith in the One G-d, such as, for example, to bow to an idol, even without acknowledging it in his heart at all.

For because of the ‘intrinsic desire and will’ of a Yid to be attached to G-d – “He instinctively recoils in fear and dread from touching even the fringe of the impurity of idolatry, Heaven forbid, which denies the faith in one G-d, even where such contact involves only its outer garments, namely, speech and act; without any faith whatever in the heart.”

Therefore Mordechai knew that the way to nullify the decree, was to awaken in the Yidden the foundation of Judaism; that it should come out visibly, to show that the property of Mordechai’s nation - “not to bow or prostrate” – should permeate all the garments of the soul of thought speech and deed – so much so that it reach the level of Mesirat Nefesh for the sanctification of G-d‘s name, in actual deed.

And when Mordechai heard from the children that “were coming from school”, the verses which depict the faith and trust in G-d – he knew that the Yidden would withstand this test, and would be ready to have self-sacrifice. Therefore he “laughed and was exceedingly happy” for there was no reason to fear the “evil plot you have conspired against us”, as will be discussed.

And since he heard the “good tidings” therefore “Mordechai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and he went out into the midst of the city and cried (with) a loud and bitter cry . . And in every province, . .there was great mourning for the Jews, and fasting and weeping and lamenting” - in order to awaken and visibly bring out the foundation of Jewish and the readiness to have actual Mesirat Nefesh.

6. The difference in the topic of the three verses are:

·  The verse, “Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction by the wicked when it comes.” Speaks of an open fear and calamity” and it says on this “do not fear” – without giving a reason.

·  The verse “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G-d is with us.” - does not speak of an actual calamity, but rather regarding a “scheme” and a “plot” to be brought on the Yidden. And the verse states that, not only will it be nullified, but it also gives a reason - “for G-d is with us”.

·  In the third verse ‘To your old age I am (with you); to your hoary years I will sustain you; I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you’ – it does not speak, from the outset, regarding a calamity – not one that is present or being planned. But rather concerning “old age” and “hoariness” which are natural changes in the being that G-d created. And the verse states that not only that “I am with you” and that “I will sustain you “- but also that “I have made you and I will carry you”.

In spiritual aspects, these three verses show three levels and movements in the manner of faith and trust in G-d which evokes the Mesirat Nefesh of a Yid for G-d.

·  The verse, “Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction by the wicked when it comes” – refers to one’s faith and trust in G-d. For although, according to nature, fear grasps the person from a sudden terror, and from the “destruction by the wicked”. However, for a “believer” (מאמין), for a Jew – there is no fear – and he must not require any reason and explanation for this. In his nature, the feeling is that, as the Sages state: “Everything that G-d does is for the best” (כל מה דעביד רחמנא לטב עביד).

·  A stronger manner of faith is the verse “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G-d is with us.” This means that not only does one not have fear, but rather he has certainty that it will be “foiled” and that “it will not materialize”. And the explanation and rational reason for this, namely (his certainty) is because: “G-d is with us”.

· A higher level is the realization (אפלייג) that ‘To your old age I am (with you); to your hoary years I will sustain you; I have made you and I will carry you” – meaning that even regarding the dictates and aspects of nature that G-d set in Creation, they do not have dominion over a Yid and therefore he is not affected (נתפעל) from them. Therefore this requires an additional reason. Not only that “G-d is with us” but also that “I have made you” and therefore “I will carry you; I will sustain you and deliver you.’

7. These are also three levels, one above the other, in the area of Chinuch in the schools, of schoolchildren learning Torah (tinokot shel beit rabban).

By the first child, a child that is beginning his education, this is in a manner of “recite for me your verse” – for he has not learned more than this. Yet even before he is able to understand with his intellect - he must have instilled within him, plainly and decidedly, that “Do not fear sudden terror, nor the destruction by the wicked when it comes.”

When the child becomes older and has learned more – where he has ‘read this verse today and I stopped at this verse” - meaning that he himself read (learned) – that he is able to utilize his own understanding - then one learns with him a deeper realization – a higher level in faith and trust – with certainty (געוויסקייט) “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize” and also the reason – “for G-d is with us.”

And for the third type of child, who has grown more in understanding and comprehension, one learns with him and imbues within him also the realization that a Yid should not be affected even from the boundaries and dictates of nature that G-d created, with the entire explanation that is in the verse.

8. When Mordechai heard the verses from the children when “they were returning from school” – that their Chinuch was in a manner, that

not only when they were in “school”, was there awoken in them and were they taught faith and Mesirat Nefesh (“do not fear”) and that this should be realized also in intellect and emotion, but also that

they took all this with them even when they were “coming from school”, coming to their homes - “he laughed and was exceedingly happy”.

He saw from the verses that the children recited that, for Yidden –for all Yidden - the foundation of Judaism is complete (גאנץ).  Therefore even for those that had not as yet, visibly achieved this – (he was confident) that these very children would awaken in them and reveal it within them, coming from school to their homes.

This is also the reason for the precise wording of Mordechai that his happiness is from the “good tidings the children have brought me that I should not fear the evil plot you have conspired against us.”

The words themselves of the children are the “good tidings the children have brought me”, that the foundation of Judaism, and the Mesirat Nefesh, that the Yidden possessed is complete (and would be complete) to nullify the decree of Haman – therefore he stated: “I should not fear etc.”

And this is also why “Haman immediately became enraged, and vowed ‘I will not strike, without striking these children first!’”. Haman saw in these children the continuation and, moreover, the cause of not “bowing or prostrating” to him, or to any idol.

9. According to the aforementioned there is an additional explanation in the well-known saying of the Sages:

“The Jews fulfilled and accepted upon themselves” (קִיְּמוּ וְקִבְּלֻ הַיְּהוּדִים)

The Sages state on this that: “They fulfilled what they had accepted long before” (קיימו מה שקיבלו כבר), and that on Purim the “Strong protest against the Torah” (״מודעא רבה לאורייתא״) (that they originally accepted it under duress) was nullified since “They reaccepted it in the days of Achashverosh” (״הדר קבלוה בימי אחשורוש״).

(and as Chassidut explains the verse: “And the Jews took upon themselves what they had commenced to do (וְקִבֵּל הַיְּהוּדִים אֵת אֲשֶׁר הֵחֵלּוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת ) that at Matan Torah there was just the beginning of - “what they had commenced to do” - for the Mesirat Nefesh of the Yidden, at that time, for the receiving of the Torah

(Namely, that which they prefaced “we will do” to “we will hear” (הקדימו נעשה לנשמע))

came from Above ( as it states: “G-d-decree overturned the mountain upon them like an (inverted) cask etc.” (״כפה הקב״ה עליהם את ההר כגיגית וכו״).

However in the time of Purim the “the Jews took upon themselves” (וקבל היהודים) – a complete acceptance, through the Mesirat Nefesh of all Yisroel, of their own accord. Therefore, at that time, there was the completion and completeness of the receiving of the Torah.

And just as at the time of “what they had commenced to do”- namely at Matan Torah- only through the merit of the guarantee of the children,

– As it states: “our children will be our guarantors” (בנינו עורבים אותנו),

did G-d give the Torah to the Yidden -

So too, was it in the time of “the Jews accepted” – in the time of Achashverosh, that the complete acceptance was accomplished through the “guarantee” of the children – through the aforementioned schoolchildren, and specifically through the twenty-two thousand children that Mordechai gathered together, learned with them, and implanted in them, actual and visible Mesirat Nefesh, as the Sages elaborately tell us.

And just as the innovation of Purim with regard to Matan Torah is (as aforementioned) in that which, that by Matan Torah the Mesirat Nefesh of the Yidden was mainly in potential, from the perspective of their soul and from Above whereas in Purim they stood in a manner of actual Mesirat Nefesh, also from the perspective of their bodies and from below –

This is also regarding the “children are our guarantors” that on Purim this was not just in potential and from the statement of the fathers, but this expressed itself in actuality, in the children themselves, as aforementioned. Moreover, they also influenced their fathers.

And because of this, the aspect of “the Jews accepted” – meaning the complete acceptance (of Torah), specifically happened at that time.

10. From this, there is a lesson for all generations, and specifically for the generation that is the “heels of Moshiach (דרא דעקבחא דמשיחא) where we are still the “servants of Achashverosh”.

When one wants to know the condition (and the future) of the Jewish people, one must inquire as to what is being done with the children, also (and mainly) when they are coming (they come) from school.

In clearer words, this means:

The Chinuch must be (as aforementioned) that from their early childhood years, even before they are capable of understanding an intellectual thought, one must educate them and engrave in them (איינקארבן), the realization that they should not be afraid of anyone, except G-d alone. This is as the father of the Baal Shem Tov, R’ Eliezer, told the Baal Shem Tov when he was five years old: “fear absolutely no one and no thing, in the world, save G-d alone” (זאלסט פאר קיינעם און פאר קיין זאד אויף דער וועלט ניט מורא האבן, מער ניט פאר ג־ט אליין).

And when they get older and are capable of understanding – one learns with them also the second aspect, to understand that they may “Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled” etc. “for “G-d is with us.” And after that, the third aspect, as aforementioned in detail.

In order for this to be properly realized, they must be “your verses”. It is not sufficient to learn just the verses in the Written Torah, but one must teach and explain, their points at least, from the explanations in the Oral Torah in general, and in Torat HaChassidut, in particular.

And when the Jewish children accept this and live with the message of the verses even when they go outside of school and bring it with them into their homes – then just as it was in those days, so too will it be in this time – that this will ensure the existence and continuation of Torah b’Yisroel  (Torah observance) and there will not be anything to be afraid of in the world, for “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have established strength etc. in order to put an end to enemy and avenger.” (מִפִּי עוֹלְלִים | וְיֹנְקִים יִסַּדְתָּ עֹז לְמַעַן צוֹרְרֶיךָ לְהַשְׁבִּית אוֹיֵב וּמִתְנַקֵּם).

And the verse: “that he may turn the heart of the fathers back through the children” (וְהֵשִׁיב לֵב אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְלֵב בָּנִים עַל אֲבוֹתָם פֶּן אָבוֹא וְהִכֵּיתִי אֶת הָאָרֶץ חֵרֶם)

-meaning (that the hearts of the fathers will be turned to G-d) through the children (על ידי בנים)

will be fulfilled, when: “I will send you Elijah the prophet “הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ לָכֶם אֵת אֵלִיָּה הַנָּבִיא)). 

For “He (Elijah) will say to the children affectionately and appeasingly, “Go and speak to your fathers to adopt the ways of the Omnipresent (-Rashi), And that the “great and awesome day of the L-rd” (בּוֹא יוֹם יְהֹוָה הַגָּדוֹל וְהַנּוֹרָא) is coming, bringing one period of Geulah close to another (מסמך גאולה לגאולה) - the true and complete Geulah, through our righteous Moshiach, speedily, Mamosh.

mSichas Purim 5726

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