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Prayerful Purim

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 7/3/2020

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Fascinating Insights—The Sefer (in English)

Prayerful Purim

Regarding giving Tzadeka on Purim כל מי שפושט ידו לטל נותנים לו, whoever puts forth his hand for money, give him.[1] This also refers to Tefila as if we put forth our hands toward Hashem in Tefila on Purim, He will answer us.[2] This is what Purim is about. The Maharal writes …because the salvation of the Jews in this Geula was the power of Tefila…[3] Elsewhere, he tells us the miracle of Purim is because Hashem heard our Tefila…and there hasn’t been another Geula where we were in a Tzara and Hashem heard our Tefila[4] like this one.[5]   


The Pasuk statesויאמר המלך לאסתר...ומה שאלתך וינתן לך ומה בקשתך עוד ותעש,[6] the king said to Esther…what is your request now? It shall be granted to you. What is your petition further? It shall be fulfilled. This alludes to Tefila on Purim as המלך refers to Hashem.[7] He says לאסתר, to each person who is in a position of concealment of Hashem (הסתר פנים), that whatever you ask for, I will give it.[8] The Nesivos Shalom tells us that even a decree that is written and sealed with the stamp of The King (Hashem), נכתב ונחתם בטבעת המלך,[9] can be torn up on Purim.


Let us cite the incredible words of R’ Yitzchak Isaac of Kamarna:[10] "I received from my teachers that on the two days of Purim,[11] someone with a small Neshama can ascend to the היכל, hall in heaven, of a great Tzadik, without any disturbance. Also, all Tefillos go up to the highest levels (כתר) without deterrence, without being checked whether he is worthy…. I received this silently, in a whisper, and I am passing it on like a רכיל, one who repeats secrets, because of my love for Jews.” So, Tefila during the days of Purim ascends to the כסא הכבוד, throne of glory without any prevention or scrutiny.


On Purim, the supplications of any simple Jew go straight to the כסא הכבוד as is alluded to in הקרובים והרחוקים, the Jews who are close to Hashem and those who are further.[12] They, too, can get answered with their Tefilos on Purim.


The Divrei Shmuel[13] points out that the first letters of what we say in Nishmas (Nusach Sefard) צעקת הדל תקשיב ותושיע, the screams of the destitute You listen to and save, spell תצוה, the week that Purim usually comes out in. This alludes to the special power of Tefila at this time. In relating the discourses of the Sages, the Gemara says פתח לה פיתחא להאי פרשתא, he introduced his lecture on Esther…[14] This statement hints to the power of Tefila on this day as it is a day (להאי פרשתא) when we can break through (פתח לה פיתחא) with our Tefilos.[15]


The Gemara[16] relates that Rabba and R’ Zeira had the Purim Seuda together where they became intoxicated.[17] Then קם רבה שחטיה לר' זירא, Rabba arose and slew R’ Zeira. Another explanation is that on Purim, a special day for Tefila. So קם רבה—arise and daven for big things (רבה means big, great) because you can be answered. שחטיה לר' זירא—don’t settle for asking for little on Purim, as זירא can be interpreted to mean small as in זעירא.
Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Orach Chaim 694:3.

[2] See Esther 9:31, Mishna Brura 686:2.

[3] Ohr Chodosh, s.v. רב מותנא. The Gemara (Megila 12b) expounds the names יאיר, שמעי and קיש in ושמו מרדכי בן יאיר..., Mordechai, the son of Yair, son of Shimi, son of Kish (Esther 2:5). He is called the son of יאיר because he was a son who brightened (האיר) the eyes of the Jews through Tefila. בן שמעי, he was the son whose Tefilos Hashem heard….

[4] After the Rambam lists the 613 Mitzvos, he explains how the Rabbinic Mitzvos fit into this system. He talks about Purim and writes: The prophets with the courts ordained and commanded that the Megila be read at its time in order to recall the praise of Hashem and the salvation He wrought for us, and He was close to our cries. This is so that we will bless and extol Himוכדי להודיע לדורות הבאים שאמת מה שהבטיחנו בתורה כי מי גוי גדול אשר לו אלהים קרבים אליו כה' אלהינו בכל קראנו אליו, and inform the future generations of the truth of the Torah's promise, "For which is a great nation that has a God Who is so close to it, as is Hashem, our God, whenever we call to Him” (Devarim 4:7). So, Chazal made Purim to tell us davening works.

[5] Ohr Chodosh, Hakdama. The Maharal also writes Esther knew with complete clarity that the only way to overcome Haman was through Tefila (Ohr Chodosh, s.v. אם על המלך טוב). 

[6] Esther 9:12.

[7] See Esther Rabba 3:10.

[8]  The Shem Mishmuel (תרעז, s.v. ובבקר) says that every Jew on Purim can say to Hashem (just as Tzadikim decree and Hashem fulfills) to hang Haman and erase his name from his heart.

[9] Esther 3:12.

[10] Sefer Nidvas Leiv.

[11] Because we may be so busy on Purim with Mishloach Manos, the Megila, the Seuda and so on, Hashem gave us another day of Purim so that we can be free to accomplish with our Tefilos among other things.

[12] Esther 9:20.

[13] Brought in the Beis Avraham in Tetzave.

[14] Megila 10b-11a.

[15] It of course is no coincidence that מרדכי is also called פתחיה (Shekalim 5:1).

[16] Megila 7b.

[17] Parenthetically, once, when wine ran out at a Purim Seuda, the Chassam Sofer said he has a tradition from his Rebbe, R’ Nosson Adler, that there is a certain name of Hashem that if he used he can have wine pouring out from the walls. However, the Chassam Sofer chose not to use the name of Hashem for such purposes.

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