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The Shabbos preceding the holiday of Purim is called Shabbos Zachor, which means “the Shabbos of Remembering.” On this Shabbos, we take out a second Torah scroll and read the Maftir from the Book of Deuteronomy (chapters 25:17-19) in which it says, “Remember what the nation of Amalek did to you on the way when you were leaving Egypt...They attacked all the weaklings at your rear when you were faint and exhausted, and they did not fear G-d...”
We must remember that tragically, every generation has its Amalek...He comes in different shapes and guises. Sometimes it is Haman, sometimes it is Stalin, sometimes it’s Hitler, and nowadays it is rabid anti-Semites who are once again resurfacing all over the world. One thing is certain - until Moshiach comes, there will always be an Amalek, and the Torah adjures us not to be tolerant of the evil he represents. Therefore, on Shabbos Zachor, we must all hear this passage read from the Torah which proclaims, “Remember - Do not forget!” and commit ourselves to be forces of justice and righteousness.
The word PURIM means “to cast lots”. Haman cast lots to decide which would be the most auspicious day on which to annihilate the Jewish people. Purim also means “Yom K’Purim (a day which is akin to Yom Kippur). If we observe Purim properly, then even as on Yom Kippur, when we come close to G-d through prayer and fasting, we can attain that same spiritual elevation and come close to G-d through joy and celebration.
There are four basic mitzvohs that we have to observe on Purim in order to fulfill our obligation:
1) Listening to the Megillah - once in the evening and once in the morning (Wednesday night and Thursday morning.)
2) Mishloach Manot - sending a gift containing at least two different kinds of edible foods.
3) Matanot L’Evionim- Gifts to the poor.
4) Having a Seudah - Festive Meal in honor of Purim
Maximize your Purim: On Purim, we give tzedukah with a free hand. ”Aiyn Bodkin” - we do not scrutinize those who ask as to the worthiness of their requests. On Purim we give with a full heart to whoever approaches us. Even as we are bidden to give freely, without questioning the worthiness of the supplicants request, so we can approach HaShem with our prayers and beseech Him to give to us without examining our worthiness. So let us all make an extra effort to pray on this Purim, not just for our own personal needs, but for the collective needs of our people in Israel and throughout the world.
In this week’s portion, the Torah discusses in great detail the laws concerning the eight garments worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the four garments worn by an ordinary Kohen during his services in the Temple. You may wonder why the Torah discusses such seemingly insignificant items such as the clothing of the Kohanim. After all, what difference does it make what one wears. The Torah teaches that it makes an enormous difference - what we wear impacts on our lives. The Kohen Gadol’s garments were to be ‘L’kovod u’l’tiferet - for honor and glory (Exodus, 28:2), reminding him of his responsibilities and at the same time, sending this message to others. Since we are all “Mamlechet Kohanim” - members of a Priestly Kingdom, a Holy Nation” we should try to make certain that our garments reflect the high standard of modesty and dignity that the Torah demands of us.
Shabbat Shalom and Joyous Purim