Moshe Rabbainu, Mordechai ha’Yehudi & the Power of Prayer

Purim 5775

אִישׁ יְהוּדִי, הָיָה בְּשׁוּשַׁן הַבִּירָה; וּשְׁמוֹ מָרְדֳּכַי, בֶּן יָאִיר בֶּן-שִׁמְעִי בֶּן-קִישׁ–אִישׁ יְמִינִי – There was a Yehudi man in the capital city of Shushan, whose name was Mordechai, the son of Yair, the son of Shim’i, the son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin (Esther 2:5).

What is this illustrious yichus referring to?  Chazal (Megillah 12b) explain Mordechai’s “ancestry” as follows: בֶּן יָאִיר – ben she’hay’ir ay’naihem shel Yisrael b’tifilaso – He is called the son of Yair because he brightened the eyes of the Jews through his prayer; בֶּן-שִׁמְעִי – ben she’shama Kel tifilaso – he is called the son of Shim’i for G-d listened to his prayers; בֶּן-קִישׁ – she’hi’kish al sha’arey rachamim vi’nif’tichu lo – he is called the son of Kish for he knocked on the Gates of Mercy and they were opened for him.

Mordechai’s koach was the koach ha’Tefillah.  The decree was issued to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all Jews.  The day of genocide was set for the 13th of Adar in the coming year.  All was in order and the day of rage was agreed upon both in the Heavenly court (see Rashi to Esther 4:1) and the earthly court of King Achashvairosh.

The letters were stamped with the seal of the king and sent to all provinces in all languages.  The Jews of the city of Shushan were perplexed and afraid.

And yet – not all hope was lost!  For Mordechai knew that “the voice is the voice of Yaakov” (Gen.27:22).  He brightened the eyes of his fellow Jews with prayer, he knocked on the Gates of Mercy with his prayer, and G-d accepted and listened to his prayers.

In this week’s parsha, Parshas Ki Sisa, in the aftermath of the terrible sin of the golden calf, Moshe supplicates G-d by invoking the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy.  Hashem, Hashem, G-d Who is Merciful and Gracious, Who is Slow to Anger and Abundant in Kindness and Truth…(Ex.34:5-6).

In a time of great national danger, Moshe prayed.  In a time of great need, Mordechai prayed.  Both times, their prayers were heeded and accepted, and the Heavenly decree was changed from destruction to salvation: Midas Ha’Din, Divine Justice, was changed to Midas Ha’Rachamim, Divine Mercy.

We must never forget that our voice is the voice of Yaakov.  That when all seems bleak, when the enemies arise to destroy us, when the Judgement has been issued, all hope is certainly not lost.  For with teshuva, tzedaka and the intense koach ha’tefillah, we too can open the Gates of Mercy.

May we merit that all our tefillos be answered l’tova, amen.
Wishing you, and all of Klal Yisrael, a very freilichin Purim and a Good Shabos,

Michal

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