28 Feb 2018 Purim – There’s Always Room for Seconds
It’s hard to believe, as we marvel at the passage of time, that it’s Purim once again. The winter has just about passed and with Purim, we begin to move into Chodesh ha’Aviv (Spring season).
The one day celebration is marked with four special mitzvos: Mishloach manos (sending a package of two foods to one friend), mikrah Megillah (we hear and/or read, the Megillah both on Purim night and Purim day), seudas Purim (celebrating the day with a festive Yom Tov meal) and matanos le’evyonim (giving gifts to those in need).
My brother shared a beautiful thought with us in regard to the Megillah and Purim.
So much of Purim and the story of the Megillah focuses on the number two.
We read Megillah two times and we are required to send two different foods items (they may be of the same bracha) to a friend.
In regard to the story of the Megillah itself:
The entire story centers around only two named Jews, Esther and Mordechai, who lived amongst thousands of anonymous Jews in the 127 provinces of the king;
Esther has two names: Hadassah and Esther;
There were two villains plotting to kill the Jews: Achashvairosh and Haman;
Two letters are sent to all provinces of the kingdom by the advice of Haman to the king – one ordering all women to honor their husbands and the other ordering all subjects to prepare to kill the Jews;
As the Megillah opens, Achashvairosh has two parties and is married to two wives;
Esther invited Haman and Achashvairosh to – not one – but two parties, before she revealed her true identity;
The Jews of Shushan are granted two days to take revenge against their enemies;
And the Megillah ends emphasizing the number two:
מָרְדֳּכַי הַיְּהוּדִי, מִשְׁנֶה לַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, וְגָדוֹל לַיְּהוּדִים, וְרָצוּי לְרֹב אֶחָיו–דֹּרֵשׁ טוֹב לְעַמּוֹ, וְדֹבֵר שָׁלוֹם לְכָל-זַרְעוֹ – And Mordechai the Jew was second (in command and power) to King Achashvairosh, and great among the Jews, and accepted to the multitude of his brothers, he sought good for his nation and spoke for the welfare of all his seed (Esther 10:3).
Why the focus on two?
It’s easy in life to be excited and inspired – the first time around.
The first time we hear Megillah, there’s an almost tangible excitement that permeates the Shul, yet the second time… well, it’s not as exciting anymore, for haven’t we done this already?
An integral element to our avodas Hashem (service of G-d), which includes both interactions bein adam la’Makom as well as interactions bein adam l’chavairo (interaction between man and G-d, and man and fellow man, respectively) is to not only be inspired the first time around. In regard to any undertaking, any mitzvah, any action, any relationship, any learning, we must maintain (and strive to always increase!) the excitement, dedication, passion, alacrity, sincerity, honesty, good will and warmth with which we learn, live, love and do.
On the opening phrase of the Torah (which parenthetically, and most significantly, begins with a ב, whose numerical value is two!) בראשית ברא אלקים, “In the beginning Hashem created,” R’ Elimelech Biederman teaches:
בראשית ברא אלקים – (This can be homiletically explained as:) Hashem created the world for ב – ראשית, two beginnings.
It’s the second time around, the second chance we have, the second start and repeat action, that truly proves who and what we are. Anyone can be excited once… We have to make sure we are of those who are excited by avodas Hashem once, then twice, and again and again… and again.
It is compelling to consider that the goal of a long life is to reach 120 years, as were the years of the eved Hashem (servant of G-d) par excellence, Moshe Rabbeinu. When we break down this number, we have the key to a successful life. 120 = 1 – 2 – 0. 1 – do it once, very good. 2 – do it’s twice, even better! Don’t stop after 1, keep going to reach the second time, the third time, and so on and so forth, as did Moshe – who never gave up, come what may… 0 – till one can go on no more, his years complete, and the neshama (soul) ascends to the Eternal World of Truth.
As we celebrate the festive and joyous day of Purim, let us remember the lesson of “two.” In all matters of good – be it in our service of G-d, or our service of man (which is also service of G-d), let us strive to maintain our excitement and passion for always growing ever higher in all aspects of avodas Hashem.
Amongst the many lessons Purim comes to teach us, the day teaches us that on Purim – There’s Always Room for Seconds; both when it comes to Hamentashen and Torah and mitzvos.
Wishing you all a very simcha-filled, meaningful, joyous, freilichin Purim!