The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

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Friday, 26 February 2010

Peace of Mind

The Megillah states that at the end of the Purim story, ‘Mordechai was acceptable to most of his brethren’. Surely the whole Jewish community should have been grateful to Mordechai and he should have been very popular?!

Rashi explains that at the beginning of the whole episode, Mordechai was an effective spiritual leader for the Jewish people. During the rise of Hamman, Mordechai was a good example to the rest of the Jewish nation, refusing to bow down to Hamman. However, once peace had returned to the land, Mordechai took an official role in the government and tried to involve himself in politics. Rashi says that because of that, Mordechai lost some popularity. The Gemara in Megillah says that part of the Sanhedrin parted from him and disapproved of his Bittul Torah. Once the national need for salvation had been satisfied, Mordechai should have returned to learning Torah. Rabbis are meant to learn,  teach and live Torah. A failure to do so is wrong. Politicians and business leaders are meant to run communal affairs using knowledge and decisions of the Rabbis. Holy people, items and actions should not be distracted by mundane necessities. This is also seen near the beginning of the Megillah when the Jews attend the feast of Achashverosh and are punished for doing so.

The obvious question is what it was that the Jews had actually done wrong? As the Megillah says, Achashverosh had arranged for there to be food to suit everyone who was there. Why was it so  terrible that the Jewish people went to a banquet and ate Glatt Kosher food? Why did we deserve the whole of the Purim story? The answer given is that whilst the food was 100% Kosher, the cause of celebration, and the environment were able to taint the food we ate. If one does the right action with wrong intentions, even the action becomes a bad deed. This fits in with the point that holy actions should not be tainted with unholy intentions. We say, “He who makes peace in the heavens, he shall make peace upon us and upon all of Israel” (Kaddish). The Chafetz Chaim asked, in what way is there peace in the heavens? Surely, with millions of colossal speeding balls of burning gas hurtling around past planets and meteors, the heavens are nothing like peaceful!

Why then does it use that as an example of peace?

Answers the Chafetz Chaim that we misunderstand the true meaning of peace. Peace is not when nothing is happening and everything is quiet. Peace is when everything is doing its proper job. Therefore, since every natural object in the universe is created for a purpose, the planetary movements are exactly as they are meant to be with every lump of rock following the perfect trajectory for its own purpose. So too, Mordechai should have left politics for politicians, and for eating Kosher for the wrong reasons, we deserved punishment. When everyone does their own task, then there will be ultimate peace and the coming of Moshiach.
A’Freilechen Purim and drink in moderation,

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