Maharal on Purim

Last night the Rabbi M. Prager gave a shiur on the Maharal’s interpretation of the Megila. Rabbi Prager picked up the story after Mordechai tells Esther she must save the Jews and she should not think she will be spared. Esther tells him, “I will fast for three days and you tell the Jews to fast for three days.” At this point the Megila states “Mordecai “YAVOR” (passed over or left) and did exactly as Esther commanded.” (Chapter 4 pasuk 17)

Why the word “Yavor” which means to pass over to leave out. It dosent quite fit the sentence. Rabbi Prager said the Maharal quotes the talmud which gives two interpretations of the word Yavor. The first interpretation is that the Jews that Passover “passed over” the requirement of a seder and did not eat matza. They refrained or passed over the mitvza of Matza and seder. Instead of eating matza which is a positive commandment, they fasted. According to the Mahral this disruption of passover sent out heavenly vibrations to the angels and celestial beings who who look forward to hearing the Jews sing and chant the Hagada. This would inspire Gd to show mercy on the Jews.

The second opinion is strange. The word “Yavor” implies that on Mordechai’s way to tell the Jews or carry out Eshters words, he had “to passed\ over a body of water.” The Maharal explains that a body of water is a symbol of an obstacle, roadblock or challenge. It is symbolic of the Satan placing difficulties or obstacles in front of us to prevent us from doing the right thing. How curious! What was the obstacle for Moredchai. What was his challenge? What “body of water” or intertia did he have to overcome? Was telling the Jews to fast such a challenge or obstacle?

The Shikkerdovid would like to weigh on these two thoughts. The lesson we learn from “Yavor” as a “water or river” analogy is than even great men like Mordecai have spiritual obstacles or challenges. Mordecai still has to confront his inner or spiritual weakness. Whatever challenges he has in fulfilling the command of Esther must be overcome. It is comforting to know that even Mordecai has religious obstacles.

The Shikkerdovid would also like to learn a lesson from the first idea of Yavor- the Jews dispensed with Passover in the hope that celestial angels will intervene on their behalf when they don’t hear the hagadda. The lesson here is that sometimes, you must make hard spiritual-religious choices. The obvious choice is not always the right choice. It would have been easier for the Jews just to eat the Matza and not take a chance they were violating the Toroh. Sometimes, you have to allow your circumstances and spiritual needs overtake the regular patterns of religious life.

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