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INSIGHT: Happy Purim – And It’s Not Purim!The Rambam’s “Purim”

It Happened to our Ancestors!

It Happened to our Ancestors!

It’s amazing, but true! Bnei Yisrael experienced all these four Scenarios when they left Egypt.

Let’s take a look:

  1. “OUT OF EGYPT!”

The Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt, which was in fact a giant jail. Our Rabbis tell us that the Egyptians took great pride in the fact that not even one slave ever escaped from their land, and now a few million people had marched out of this JAIL!

“After sooo many years! We’re Out of the Egypt Jail…”!

  1. The SEA of Reeds parted and they crossed through it on dry land – just in time to escape the Egyptians.

 “I SEE A Parting of the SEA!”

“And I SEE a miracle!”

  1. Before they received the Torah at Mount Sinai, every Jew was completely healed of any sickness.

“Amazing! I can see!” cried the blind.

“I don’t believe it! I don’t need crutches anymore!” shouted the lame.

“No more hearing aids!” exclaimed the deaf.

  1. Bnei Yisrael survived 40 years in the scorching desert, surrounded by the miraculous Clouds of Glory which HaShem sent to protect them.

To sum it up in the order it happened:

  1. First Bnei Yisrael went out of the giant Egyptian Jail.
  2. Then they crossed the Sea of Reeds.
  3. At the giving of the Torah they were all cured.
  4. Finally, Bnei Yisrael survived 40 years of wandering the desert.

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Shazak insight

Happy Purim – And It’s Not Purim!

All too often, Jewish communities have faced catastrophe. More often than not, the plot involved an evil tyrant or plotter who followed the ways of Haman. And just like the Purim story, HaShem was there to save them from certain doom. The custom has actually developed for some communities to make a special “Purim” holiday on the anniversary of the date that they were saved from their “Haman” – each place following their own traditions.

There are communities in Europe and Asia that celebrate their own “Purims” until this very day. Some even read the story of their salvation from specially-made “Megillah” scrolls. All of them make sure to have a festive thanksgiving feast, a Seudas Hodaah, thanking HaShem for his wondrous salvation.

To name a few:

Purim of Cairo (Egypt), Purim of Rhodes (Greece), Purim of Florence (Italy), Purim of Shiraz (Iran), Purim of Tiveria (Eretz Yisrael), and Purim of Saragossa (Croatia).

Sometimes, these “Purims” are marked by a single individual or family:

For example – the “Purim” holiday of Rabbi Avraham Danzig, author of the Halachic work, Chayei Adam. Every year the Danzig family would celebrate the 15th of Kislev, the day the Rabbi and his family survived the explosion of a gunpowder storage facility near their Vilna home in 1804. In fact, the celebration is sometimes called “Pulver Purim,” meaning the “Powder Purim.” Like the real Purim, they would celebrate with a festive meal (with Talmudic scholars in attendance) and Tzedakah for the poor.

Not all the time did they call their personal life-saving event “Purim.” For example, Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, the famous author of the Tosafos Yom Tov commentary on the Mishnah. In 1629, this great Rabbi was falsely accused of a crime and thrown in a dangerous prison. Miraculously, after a month, he was finally released. Rabbi Yom Tov described this frightful experience in a book he called “Megillas Eivah,” the “Scroll of Adversity,” which he asked that his descendants read on the anniversary of his release.

Do you know of any miracles that happened to you, your community or even Jewish people living in another place? How would you celebrate these amazing events?

Shazak insight

The Rambam’s “Purim”

Get ready for a not well known Thanksgiving from a very well-known person – the great Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a.k.a. Maimonides.

At the end of his commentary on the Mishneh, the great Rambam describes how he and his family survived a harrowing sea journey from Fez, Morocco, to the Land of Israel.

These are the words of the Rambam translated from his original commentary written in Arabic:

On Sunday, the 4th day of the month of Iyar, I boarded the ship. On the 10th day of Iyar, the day of Shabbos, in the year 4,925 to Creation (1165) there was a violent storm which threatened the lives of all the passengers.

I made a vow that on these two days (the day I boarded the ship and the day of the storm), I, my family and all those who accompanied me, for all generations to come, would fast and give as much charity as possible to the poor.

In addition, since I spent that frightful day, the 10th of Iyar alone with HaShem praying for a miracle, I would spend that day in seclusion, seeing no person at all.

On the 3rd day of Sivan, (a month after his journey began), I disembarked the ship safely in the port of Akko, Israel.

To thank HaShem for saving us and to commemorate our arrival in the Holy Land, the 3rd day of Sivan, shall be celebrated with gladness and joy, feasting and gifts to the poor, for me and my family for all generations to come.

Rambam’s Commentary of the Mishnah, End of Tractate Rosh HaShanah

Notice the Rambam’s words – “shall be celebrated with gladness and joy, feasting and gifts to the poor.”

Sound familiar? It’s from the Purim Story. So this must be the Rambam’s Purim!

Interesting, the Rambam also had fasted beforehand, similar to Ta’anis Esther – the Fast of Esther which comes before Purim.

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