Will Praise You
Transcribed from a tape
of the Rav’s Purim Mesibah 5741/1981
THE GREAT OPPORTUNITY OF LIFE
לא המתים יהללו י-ה ולא כל יורדי דומה – The dead will not praise Hashem, nor those who go down into silence. Death is called silence from praising Hashem. Actually, at death the praise of Hashem really begins. Because the tzaddikim are saying Shirah in the World to Come. And that’s their great happiness; all together, it’s a song that never comes to an end, they are never tired. On the contrary, the longer they sing, the more exhilarated they become; the more enthusiastic and happy they are, and that’s their reward in Olam Haba.
So what does it mean that the dead will not praise Hashem? It means to praise Hashem with free-will. In this world it’s bechirah; it’s the opportunity to choose to praise Hashem. But death is the end of the free-will; there you praise Hashem too, tzaddikim praise Hashem as a reward, but not as a free-will effort. The perfection comes from free-will: when people on their own decide to overcome the inertia of the body. The body is lazy; the body prefers to sit, let’s say maybe munch a peanut, and let other people do the singing [There was nosh on the tables, and people would listen and nibble, interspersed with rounds of singing and dancing.] That’s the laziness of the body. So the tzaddikim in this world overcome the inertia and they force themselves to be energetic; not only physically, also mentally, because people relax into inertia mentally too. And so we say, לא המתים יהללו י-ה – the dead will not praise Hashem. Not all those who go down into silence. So life is the opportunity to exert oneself in the praise of Hashem.
ALL YEAR LONG WE LIVE FOR PURIM
Meisim is intended in more than one way. People can be alive and still be dead. Dead from the neck up! Dead from the neck down! Dead means somebody who could be active in other things. Let’s say he’s active when it comes to physical things; he’s active when it comes to eating, he’s active when it comes to making money, spending money, all the other things. But when it comes to important things in life, he’s a meis. As it says, רשעים בחייהם קרויים מתים – the resha’im are called dead even when they are alive. So these meisim are not going to praise Hashem. It’s only people who have the fire of life in them. The enthusiasm of life. Life means true life; to appreciate what’s important, and you become excited over what’s important. They are the chaim. So when we say this, it’s an important principle for guidance; how do we react in life? We react in life by enthusiasm to praise Hashem. To praise Hashem in this world needs a number of things, and now is not the time to enumerate them. But of all the things it needs, it needs a certain love of Hakodosh Boruch Hu that expresses itself in the fire of enthusiasm.
There are opportunities for this. Purim is one opportunity, when the people who are not meisim speak up and demonstrate that they have the spark of life in them. And that’s what we’re living for; we live for Purim. All year-round we are really like coals that went out, and the spark doesn’t demonstrate itself. But on Purim… other occasions too, some people have Purim all year round! They are always full of enthusiasm. Not always can they show it, not always is it a matter of propriety to show their enthusiasm, but it burns within them. But there are times when it’s proper, and there are times when it’s not so concealed, like on Purim. So here is an opportunity for the people who have that spark in them, the fire in them, to speak up and to praise Hashem.
MOST OF HUMANITY LIVES UNDERGROUND
That’s what Purim is; Purim is nothing but praise of Hashem. Purim is not good times, Purim is not celebrations, Purim is praise of Hashem! How do you praise Hashem? You praise Hashem by speaking up about His greatness, you speak about His love of the Am Yisroel, you speak about His great gift that He gave us as human beings, you speak about the gifts He gives us as His beloved Chosen Nation, you speak about all the things that Hakodosh Boruch Hu does for us. That’s what praise is. It’s a song of thanks that we sing on Purim. That’s why על הניסים comes in מודים אנחנו לך. Modim; that’s the brocha of thanks. All brochos express some thanks, but מודים is especially devoted to the principle of thanking, and in מודים we say על הניסים, we mention Purim in מודים אנחנו לך.
So now is the opportunity to thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu that you’re alive, to thank Him that you’re still above ground; it’s a big thing to be above ground. Most of humanity is below ground, you have to know, if you take a census, from the beginning of the world until now, most of them are not above ground. This is a privileged small group, that’s still above ground, and that’s why we’re supposed to shout with all our koach and thank Hashem for that; that we’re alive. As Chizkiyah Hamelech said when he was about to die, and he had already given up, and he thought that it was his last moment. Then, finally, he was healed and he became well, so he sang a song and he said, חי חי הוא יודוך – the living one, the living one is going to praise You. And that’s what we say, וכל החיים יודוך סלה – all the living are going to praise You. So if you look in Shemoneh Esrei and you say these words, they seem superfluous; certainly the living will praise You; who else will praise You, the dead? The answer is, that’s what life is for, it’s telling us. We’re here just for that purpose. When he says, לא המתים יהללו י-ה he’s saying just these words, the dead will not praise You. You’re alive, that’s why you have to praise, that’s our sole function, that’s our purpose of being alive.
That’s why you say, תהלת השם ידבר פי – let my mouth say the praises of Hashem, ויברך כל בשר שם קדשו לעולם ועד – let all flesh bless His Holy Name forever. What does it mean “flesh”? Let it say all people, all men? No! It means as long as you have flesh on the bone. Do you know that flesh is only a temporary loan? It’s loaned out to you. Your bones are clothed with flesh only for a short time. And while the flesh is on your bones, you’re supposed to make use of that flesh, and the flesh has to sing, as it says, לבי ובשרי ירננו אל א-ל חי – My heart and my flesh will sing to the living G-d. Why mention “living G-d”? It means just as Hashem is always active, always a chooser, always possessing free-will forever, so we are only temporary choosers; we only have a temporary free-will, so we say, we are given this gift for a short while, and we speak to the One Who has it forever, and we say, “Our flesh utilizes the free-will, to sing to the One Who gave us this gift.” But He has it forever. So we say, לבי ובשרי ירננו אל א-ל חי, it means that’s the purpose of having a heart, that’s the purpose of having flesh, to sing to Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
[At this point, and at each break, the Rav would encourage everyone to pour a cup of wine, as all joined in songs of praise of Hashem, often while dancing with enthusiasm around the tables].
HAMAN’S SHALOM BAYIS ISSUES
Haman called together his friends, את אוהביו – those who loved him, – ואת זרש אשתו, and his wife Zeresh. (It looks like she was outside that list, his wife!) ויספר להם המן – and he related to them, את כבוד עשרו – the glory of his wealth; he started enumerating all his possessions. Haman started מן הקל אל הכבד, he wanted to bring it up to a climax. He started with the smallest thing – his wealth. They didn’t know because his wealth was stashed away. He didn’t show it to everybody. But now he wanted them to know. So he told them, “I have so many hundreds of thousands of talents of silver buried over here, and diamonds buried over there;” he told them.
את כבוד עשרו ואת רוב בניו. He told them about how many children he had, they didn’t know how many children he had, it was a secret. He knew all over town where he had children! ורב בניו – he told them, the multitude of his children. Haman had a lot of children all over the place! They were the ones who were killed. When Mordechai and Esther got permission to kill in Shushan Habirah, חמש מאות איש they were Amaleikim. So they did the mitzvah of mechi’yas Amalek, so they were able to discover; they sent out their secret-service people, they discovered who his children were. Haman had a certain connection with them, he used them for his purposes – they were Amaleikim, and he was waiting for that great day when the king had given him permission, so – ורב בניו the multitude his children, he was building it up, because the more sons you have, the more power you have.
HAMAN’S GREAT HAPPINESS
Then, ואת כל אשר גדלו המלך – getting higher and higher. Then the king elevated him; the king made him great. And then, ואת אשר נשאו על השרים – not only did the king make him great, but the king made him the top man over all the officers of the kingdom. Now, he went to the climax; his greatest success in life, ויאמר המן אף – it means, also this: My biggest success is that Esther invited me to the seudah that she made for the king, only me! Had he known beforehand what the purpose of the seudah was, it would have been on the bottom of the list. The seudah was in order to kill him! Esther invited him to kill him! He didn’t know! He put it on top of the list! After he told all the great things he has, he said, ואף לא הביאה אסתר המלכה – The Queen Esther! That’s his best friend, he thinks! “Esther Hamalkah” – Queen Esther herself invited him! Actually she was the one who was going to plunge the dagger into his heart, “Nobody but me!” It means, nobody else was going to get killed but him! Like a man going to the electric chair! כי אם אותי… אני קרוי לה, “I’m the only one going on the electric chair!”
Haman was so excited with this wealth of his. This was the greatest; the pinnacle of his power, the greatest success was that Esther invited him with the king – all alone. Now, looking back; we understand what kind of a gedulah it was that Esther invited him. It’s like a man who’s boasting, he says, “I just now had a big meal, I drank also – a whole bottle of poison, I drank good wines, and I drank a big bottle of poison too.” So Haman is now telling of his death sentence, but he didn’t know about it. However we have to learn from this, that just as this was Haman’s ruination, and he was boasting of it, all the things on that list were his ruination.
THE PERSIANS WERE NOT ANTI SEMITES
Everything was a ruination for him. Haman would have been much better off if he hadn’t been elevated. (I’m going down degree by degree.) If he hadn’t been elevated over all of the שרים, he would have been much better off! It was only because he was so elevated that the whole plan came into being – the plan that he made, to kill Mordechai. And we go down another madreigah; if he hadn’t had all the sons he wouldn’t have had the power. But the sons were all over the city waiting for that day. He wouldn’t have thought of it.
In Persia you couldn’t get people to kill Jews like this. The Persians weren’t anti-Semites. You see that they had Jews all over Persia; they had Jews as great men: ומרדכי יושב בשער המלך. He wasn’t a gate-keeper. The shaar hamelech in those days was only for the people who belonged to the king’s council. Like the shoftim who sat at the shaar. Also Daniel, who was very important in the government. We find that Esther was honored by the king, Nechemia was the cup-bearer of the king. In Persia the Jews weren’t singled out for persecution. Only because Haman had so many sons stationed all over the city, that he hoped that with them he could accomplish what he wanted. If he wouldn’t have had all these sons, it never would have happened. Even the ten sons that we know in the Megillah were also a ruination for him. To have ten sons, waiting at your beck and call to help you carry it out, was a great ruination for that man. If he would have been all alone, he would have been a quiet fellow, and could have lived till 80, 90, 100 years. How old he was I can’t tell you, but most likely, he didn’t finish half of his years. לא יחצו ימיהם – he didn’t reach the middle of his years. It says, the years are 120 years, we’ll say he didn’t reach 60. Of course we’re satisfied with less than 35 too, but just to play it safe we’ll say he didn’t reach 60.
“KINDLY PUT YOUR NECK OVER HERE, SIR”
And if he didn’t have any wealth? Wealth is, עושר שמור לבעליו לרעתו – Wealth was a misfortune for him. But, בא זה ולמד על זה – To us, it seems, “Wealth; that’s something else. Wealth is wealth. Children. Yes, children are children. To be elevated over all the officers of the king? That’s worth something.” But to start up to be invited to the seudah with Esther was a very small simcha; that we understand. We have to know how בא זה – the same simcha; the same triumph of being invited, “You’re invited to the gallows.” Like someone stood, let’s say in France in the guillotine; the man who runs the guillotine, wears a high silk hat. He’s the official executioner. He puts on a special regalia and as the person comes up, he welcomes him, and says “Kindly put your neck over here, sir!” So Esther was honoring Haman, we can understand what kind of honor it was. But בא זה ולימד על זה – Hakodosh Boruch Hu is saying the same thing, “Come here sir, here are hundreds of thousands of dollars, here are ten sons, and many other sons, and here are all these things.” All these things are invitations to get hung up. That’s how we have to understand this. All the successes of the rasha are only misfortunes for him.
So we have to understand that the opposite is also true. Just as we see the ladder of success of the rasha is a ladder that leads up to the gallows. Every success is one rung that helps him climb up higher and closer to the gallows to be hung, we understand the opposite, what happens to the Am Yisroel. Every setback was a ladder of success to come to hatzlachah. And all of the yisurim that the tzaddikim suffer in this world it’s for them a success. Of course in this case, when Haman was collecting money and everybody knew – “Haman ben Hamdosa hoAgagi tzorer kol haYehudim.” Everyone knew that he was a tzorer kol haYehudim, that was his name; he was tzorer kol haYehudim – enemy of all the Jews. So the Jews were not happy when they saw Haman becoming wealthy, when they saw him becoming elevated by the kingdom, they weren’t happy.
Now, while Haman was amassing wealth, they didn’t understand that. As Haman was amassing the wealth, it was for them a success, because the wealthier Haman became, the more he was ready to be destroyed. The wealthier and more powerful he became, the closer he was coming to his destruction. Not only that, the more Haman was collecting money, the more it was going to be in possession of the Jews later, because ותשם אסתר את מרדכי על בית המן, so Mordechai took all that Haman was busy collecting all his life. So the more money Haman was collecting, the more Mordechai was going to get, we understand – it’s going to good causes. It will help the K’lal Yisroel. So Haman was busy making money, busy piling away cash and diamonds, for whom? For the Am Yisroel. So therefore, when we see the resha’im succeeding, we have to understand that the success of the resha’im is two things: It’s not only a buildup for their downfall, but it’s also a buildup for our success.
THE MEGILLAH IS A PREVIEW OF THE NEXT WORLD
In the Megillah, we’re given a taste, we’re given a foresight of how to look into the Next World. The Megillah is a look into the next world. In the next world it’s איגלאי מילתא למפרע that all the success of the rasha was the greatest misfortune for him. Now, suppose the curtain would have gone down just then, when Haman was elevated. Let’s say he didn’t start up with the Jews, but he was a big rasha – tzorer kol haYehudim, and the Megillah would have ended, and told the story of Haman, that he was tzorer kol haYehudim, that he was wealthy and powerful, and that’s all, finished. However, the story of the Megillah goes on and on, until the next world. Only the next world is that not only Haman is going to be discomfited, Haman will be put to shame; he’ll have to lead the horse on which Mordechai is riding, he’ll have to shout, ככה יעשה לאיש – that’s surely in the next world, in the next world the resha’im have to lead the horse on which the tzaddik is sitting, and the rasha will have to cry out, ככה יעשה לאיש…
When Haman’s daughter saw the king’s horse being led in the street, she looked down and saw two people, and she thought, “Who is sitting on the king’s horse? It’s my father! Who is leading the horse? It must be his worst enemy!” So she took the chamber pot and emptied it over the head of the man who was leading the horse! So when Haman came back אבל וחופוי ראש, the Gemara says he came back חפוי ראש, meaning his head was covered! But that’s getting off easy in this world. In the next world they will cover him with coals; burning coals are worse than a chamber pot. In the next world, if we hadn’t had this picture, we wouldn’t know. In the next world Haman is always sitting or walking and leading the horse on which the tzaddikim are riding, and there are hot coals, burning coals on his head. That’s how we have to understand that. It’s only when people look ahead of time; in the Megillah, what’s doing in the World to Come.
THE HIDDEN BENEFITS
The same is with the tzaddikim; the yissurei hatzaddikim in the Megillah, we’re given a foretaste, the curtain didn’t go down. The curtain remained up. So what happened? The end was “v’nahafoch hu” – it turned out just the opposite; what the Jews thought would come upon them, came upon their enemies. The enemies were destroyed and the Jews became victorious, and everybody was afraid of them, ורבים מעמי הארץ מתיהדים כי נפל פחד היהודים עליהם.
However, that’s a taste of what’s going to happen in the World to Come. That’s what happened; that’s the emes, only we were also shown in this world a picture of what would be the end anyhow. So what we learned in the Megillah, that’s a model of how the yissurim of the tzaddikim in Olam Hazeh are really their success. A tzaddik has to understand that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is giving him the biggest benefit. Of course, we don’t ask for such benefits, we prefer the benefits the other way, the Olam Habah benefit type that we see in this world. But the benefits of the tzaddikim in this world include the yisurei tzaddikim, and it’s all for their benefit. Only the story stops, and we don’t see what’s going on, there’s a curtain between this world and the next. But for the resha’im; even those resha’im who seem to continue their success till the end, we have to understand that the story is not finished yet. The Megillah is an opportunity to look into the World to Come.
Actually, everything that takes place in this world is a דוגמא מעין עולם הבא. We have to study the things of this world in order to get a dei’ah, to get a chochma of what’s doing in the World to Come. That’s a general principle; all the things in this world are a דוגמא– are an example for the World to Come. The Gemara gives a number of things that are examples of the World to Come.
MODELS FOR THE NEXT WORLD
For instance, when we see that somebody put his hand to a hot kettle, and his hand was scalded, his hand was burned, that’s eish, so the Gemara says, אש אחד מששים לגיהנם– it’s one-sixtieth of Gehinnom. Why tell us this yedi’ah, מאי קמשמע לן, that eish is one sixtieth of Gehinnom? The truth is, it isn’t. The fire of Gehinnom is more than sixty times the fire of this world. So what does the Gemara want to tell us? That when somebody sees what fire accomplishes; even a little bit, a touch of a hot kettle can scald their hand, and it hurts very much, so he is m’chuyuv to say, “This is a message, it’s a gilui, it’s a revelation of what’s doing in Olam Haba.” That Olam Haba, the fire of Gehinnom is at least sixty times as much as that. That’s how we have to live. We are learning what is meant by Olam Haba.
Reb Yeruchom zichrono livracha, the Mirrer Mashgiach, once said, in his time the German concentration camps began. He was in Poland then, and when he heard what was going on in Hitler’s concentration camps, he said like this: “The Jews stopped believing in Gehinnom.” This was over forty years ago, I heard it from a talmid of his, as Reb Yeruchom was still alive then. His talmid said like this, “The Jews stopped believing in Gehinnom. So Hakodosh Boruch Hu decided to bring Gehinnom into this world.” Not the whole Gehinnom; a little bit of it in this world. The concentration camps were a foretaste; a little bit of Gehinnom. Now, if people would have learned from the other things; there are other ways of learning about Gehinnom. Let’s say you see a fire burning, you aren’t going to put your hand in, you can imagine what it feels like. If you see a fire burning and you think, “How would it feel if I put my hand in?” You can imagine it. And you will stand there in a reverie, in meditation, and you think about that, so that’s good enough. So the eish is a moshol for Gehinnom, and that’s what it’s intended for. But when people neglect the opportunities; not only they neglect the opportunity of the fire inside the stove, even when their hands were burned, they neglected to study from it, so Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “I see you need a little more closer audio-visual instructions,” so He brought the Gehinnom into this world, and the concentration camps were a lesson of Gehinnom.
A SHOPPER’S PARADISE
Now, the truth is we can learn about Gan Eden also. Gan Eden is also in this world. There are a lot of mesholim of Gan Eden in this world.
אתהלך לפני השם בארצות החיים – Dovid said, “I shall walk before Hashem in the lands of the living.” The Rambam explains that that’s a moshol for Olam Haba. The lands of the living is Olam Haba. As we walk before Hashem in the lands of the living, that’s the place of the true life – we walk in happiness as we walk down the streets of Olam Haba; and there, there are better stores than there are here. Big stores full of all good things and everything is free! You walk in and you can take whatever you want off the shelves. You have the first merchandise and you can have as much as you want. That’s how it’s going to be in Olam Haba. Even better; I’m saying it as a moshol; there are even better things than that. So, אתהלך לפני השם בארצות החיים – I’m going to walk before Hashem, in the lands of the living. The Gemara says: זה מקום שווקים. What does it mean by “the lands of the living”? It’s a street; there are streets where there are marketplaces to buy things. Dovid is talking about this world. He walks on streets where he can buy things. Rashi says where all the necessities are available. A street like in the big city of Yerushalayim. You can buy all the necessities of life. When Dovid was hiding from his enemies, from Shaul, he was hiding in the caves in the forest, he was praying אתהלך לפני השם – I should be able to walk before Hashem in the lands of the living. I should be able to walk in the streets of Yerushalayim where you can buy everything you want. That’s a queer thing; Dovid is longing for such a thing? An opportunity to come back to Yerushalayim; you can’t get anything here in the jungles, in the forest, in the caves. He can’t buy a toothbrush if he needs it, he can’t buy a roll of tissues. He can’t buy anything out here! He wants to gets back to Yerushalayim where he can get whatever he needs. That’s how Rashi learns p’shat in the passuk: אתהלך לפני השם בארצות החיים – in the land of the living; he said, זה מקום שווקים – a place where there’s a market, where you can buy whatever you need, Rashi says.
NOBODY WANTS TO SAVE YOUR MONEY
It’s a queer thing, and the p’shat is this: When Dovid walked in the street, let’s say Dovid had a Kings Highway, and he walked down the street, and he saw a store, and he saw the commodities that were available in the store, things you could buy. So Dovid learned how to enjoy those things. He didn’t buy them; why waste your money? Sometimes you see a sign “come in and save” – nobody is going to save your money, so he saved by not coming in. But as he walked down the street, he was thinking, “If I wanted, I could buy a nice wig, I could buy a nice lawn-mower, I can buy jewelry.” Jewelry is a waste of money. Who buys jewelry? Only shotim. But I could buy jewelry if I want. I could buy anything I want. That’s what he thought, as he was walking down the street, and he passed every store, to utilize it. “I could buy this, I could buy that, I could buy apples and oranges and pears and bananas and tomatoes and radishes. I can buy everything! It’s all available.” But as he was doing that he was using it as a moshol.
Dovid didn’t live his life just like that, his life was a preparation for Olam Haba. He said אתהלך לפני השם, he asked for Yerushalayim. He wasn’t talking about Olam Haba. He wasn’t in a hurry to get to Olam Haba at all, he had plenty of time! He wanted to practice up in this world. That’s what we’re here for. In this world we practice up for Olam Haba. He wanted to practice, by appreciating what’s in this world. כל האומר שירה בעוה”ז – First you have to say song in this world, then you are zoche to say it in Olam Haba. So Dovid was preparing for the World to Come. And he was thinking, “This is how the World to Come is going to be, when everything; all kinds of pleasures are available; without end. Just like now, I’m walking through the streets and everything is available, and I appreciate it, and I thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu, I am walking before you, לפני השם I’m walking. I’m not just walking down the streets, I’m walking in Your Presence, and I’m aware of You; I’m thanking You. That’s what I’m going to do in Olam Haba, I will walk down the streets of delight in Olam Haba and I will thank Hashem there.”
THE ‘TOP MAN’ HANGS HIGHEST
So what do we learn from this? First, we learn a great principle; how to utilize this life. We utilize this life as a preparation for the World to Come. However, we also see that Hakodosh Boruch Hu intended everything in this world as a moshol for Olam Haba. Whether it’s something that’s pleasurable, like buying good things in the shops, or the other way; like the fire we see in this world, it’s a moshol for Olam Haba.
Now we come back to the Megillah. The Megillah is actually a moshol of Olam Haba. What happened was an Olam Haba happiness. At that time, when Haman was suddenly catapulted into Gehinnom, from being the top man in the malchus, he became the highest person in the kingdom – hanging! Suddenly, he changed his greatness to something else, it was in a moment; in a flash. How long did it take? Here was Haman; the great and powerful man, ויאמר המלך תלוהו עליו, and he’s finished.
In that second you could see a picture of Haman being cast into the depths of Gehinnom. At that moment, the Am Yisroel entered Gan Eden. They were so crazy; they were so delirious, it was really a danger to their lives. The Gemara says it was like Matan Torah. קימו וקבלו it was like Matan Torah. By Matan Torah they were in danger of their lives. It says openly, not only was it a danger – the Gemara said they died. נפשי יצאה בדברו – they all perished. The experience of Matan Torah was so great that everybody died. And Hakodosh Boruch Hu had to send down upon them טל של תחיה and make תחיית המתים. The experience of Matan Torah was too terrific for the human organism to endure. Such an experience! A delirium! קול השם speaking to you – such a simcha. ישקני מנשיקות פיהו – they all went mad with happiness. That was Matan Torah.
THE GREAT EXPERIENCE
Matan Torah wasn’t stam קימו וקבלו – it was a case of where they experienced something that no human being could ever experience. השמע עם קול אלקים? They heard a voice that made them go mad! Their souls went out of their bodies. נפשי יצאה בדברו!
This happened also at the time of Haman. After three days of fasting, when they were ready to die – suddenly – things turn upside down, and they are victorious, so it’s mamash נפשי יצאה. Their souls almost shot out of their bodies. It was almost a counterpart of Matan Torah.
You have to understand that it was a preview of Olam Haba. And so, when we celebrate Purim, we try to build up a little bit of that spirit. That spirit of the enthusiasm, of amazement, of excitement, of astonishment that the Am Yisroel experienced. That tremendous joy, that delirium of happiness that took place, we try to experience a little bit in order to get a foretaste of what it’s going to be in the World to Come.
The World to Come doesn’t mean the next world only. It means, when Moshiach will come, the whole world will be turned upside down. All the great ones of the world will be set low, like Haman was set low. The Am Yisroel will conquer, it will be v’nahafoch hu. The whole world will be turned upside down. And that’s what we have to experience when we consider the story of Purim, that we’re studying a preview of what’s going to take place l’osid lavo. It’s only a moshol. It was a true story. But it’s only a little bit of what’s going to take place. So let’s sing – V’nahafoch hu…
[The Rav wanted to share with the chevra some poem-songs he remembered from his years at the Slabodka yeshiva. The first he intoned with a slow, wistful, moving melody, and then had everyone sing along together with him.]
אויפ’ן בריק, איבער’ן טאל,
שטייען צוויי טויבער ווייסע,
שטייען צוויי טויבער ווייסע,
Translated in “Syrian,” [the Rav jested for the sake of his Sefardic talmidim], it means:
On a bridge over the valley
Stand two white doves.
There are two old people standing by the bridge that leads over from this world to the next world. They are near the end of their lives. Here is what they say:
שוין אוועק די גוטע יארען,
קיין גוטס נאך נישט געזעהן,
Here is what they say: They make an appeal, that the years that went away should come back again. Two old people standing by the bridge leading over the valley are begging the good years to come back. They didn’t have any joy out of you.
יארען יארען קערט זיך אום,
קערט זיך נאר אויף א וויילע.
יארען יארען קערט זיך אום,
צוריק נאר אויף א וויילע.
So they say:
Good years, come back, for a little while at least,
Let’s enjoy you.
But the good years have something to say about that. So the good years answer:
ניין ניין, מיר וועלען ניט גיין.
ס’איז ניט דא צו וועמען,
ס’איז ניט דא פאר וועמען,
ווען מיר זענען ביי אייך געוועהן,
האט איר אונז ניט געדארפט פארשעמען.
The years reply:
There’s no use coming back,
There’s nobody to come back to.
When we were with you,
You shouldn’t have put us to shame.
There were so many Purims, you could have had them, beautiful times, you could have enjoyed life on other occasions. But you didn’t. You were like dead timber. You were sitting home waiting for mincha and kabbolas Shabbos. [That year Purim fell Erev Shabbos, and the mesiba was scheduled before mincha.] “Lo hamesim yehallu kah.” And so, you’re old and white, and you’re saying, “Years, come back, please, to us.” And the good years say, “What’s the use, you shouldn’t have put us to shame.” Now, once again, the whole song again…….
One more song – on Purim we’ll pull it out from the mothballs. Then we’ll hear Reb Yissochar. [Rabbi Yissochar Dov Loriner z”l]. Reb Yissochar has a nice niggun for us. But first we’ll get rid of the old sechora before we hear the new sechora….
Three horses are pulling a sleigh after a snowstorm, and there’s a perfect snow road. And the sleigh is speeding. And they see wolves coming down the road. And finally the pack of wolves gather and they’re pursuing the sleigh.
The driver urges his horse on and on, to go faster and faster. And finally, after a long chase, a very anxious chase, they reach their destination. And the wolves slink off. And the story ends, that the wolves are the seventy nations, and the Am Yisroel is in the sleigh. They’re pursuing us, and who are the three horses that pull us, that draw us to our rescue? Teshuva, tefillah, and tzedakah.
That’s how the story goes. But the niggun is missing….! [The Rav had difficulty remembering the niggun, but began to try to offer a niggun anyway…….]
די שניי איז געפאלען דריי טעג און דריי נעכט,
א שליט טאג, א שליט וועג, א גליטשיגער, א מחיה,
….and the rest of it I don’t remember…..
[the Rav sang out laughingly using the same melody].
And he tells how the wolves began to gather behind, and the driver urged on his horses…… it’s a long poem! And finally they came to their destination, to the haven of rescue. And he said, you know what these horses are: Teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah!
[The Rav was disappointed he couldn’t recall the whole poem:] It’s like the herring. They serve the head and the tail. But you like what’s in between too. But I don’t have it! [he laughed]
[The singing then continued on until mincha, leaving the olom uplifted and exuberant as Purim passed into Shabbos.]