Adar II 5771 March 2011
“Vanahafoch hu” (“turnabout”) – the words we sing with such joy on Purim – serve as an apt description of the unexpected upheavals that have taken place in this part of the world in recent weeks.
Their timing is perfect, for they remind us of the great “vanahafoch hu” turnabout which took place in this month thousands of years ago – a miracle we celebrate on Purim.
“Layehudim haita ohra”– “there was light for the Jews” – is another popular lyric of our Purim singing. "Light", say Chazal, refers to the regained opportunity to learn Torah which Haman in his capacity as Prime Minister had forbidden.
That evil Amalekite was determined to achieve a "final solution of the Jewish problem" through the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman and child. Since the danger facing our people was physical destruction, we celebrate the miracle of our salvation in a physical way with eating and drinking.
Why did that wicked man bother banning Torah study and other key mitzvot if it was a physical holocaust that he was after?
The answer of course is that he realized that as long as Jews learned Torah they would be safe from his murderous intentions. In the presentation of his plan to the king he dispelled Achashverosh's fears of Heavenly reprisal by telling him that Jews had abandoned their religious commitment.
It was Mordechai's defiance of the ban on Torah study and the teshuva inspired by Queen Esther's three-day fast that turned the tables on Haman and enabled us to joyfully sing “Vanahafoch hu”.
May the Torah and mitzvot of all our talmidim, past and present, join with the merits of all Jews in achieving Purim-like miracles in our own day.
- The Grand Shabbaton in Lakewoodfor JLE mentor participants and others from campuses in North Americawhere Ohr Somayach is active, attracted about one hundred students. Rabbeim from Ohr Somayach Jerusalem joined with local families in hosting the students and providing an unforgettable weekend.
- The popular weekly English-language "Hamodia" published an extensive interview with the Roshei Yeshiva titled "Where Gemara is a Bridge to Shemiras HaMitzvos".
- Over a hundred alumni of the Center Program participated, many of them with their wives, in their annual Melave Malka in Yerushalayim. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Weinbach, as guest speaker, praised the success of so many of the families in settling in Eretz Yisrael
- Alumnus Mordechai Snider, an attorney in Baltimore, hosted a gathering of Ohr Somayach alumni and their wives. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Nota Schiller, spoke there and at a number of local synagogues during a whirlwind visit to this fast-growing Torah community.
- The success of Ohr Somayach programs on the Fast Days of 17th Tammuz and 9th Av has inspired the scheduling of a pre-Purim symposium on Ta'anis Esther titled "Fasting Before Feasting" which will feature talks by the Roshei Yeshiva and other Rabbeim.
- In conjunction with this event we are releasing a revised version of our popular "Purim Handbook" which can be downloaded for free from the Ohr Somayach Website - www.ohr.edu/purimbook
- Alumnus Rabbi Howard Hirsch, head of Jewish Studies at the prestigious Jewish Free School in London, delivered a guest lecture for the Ohr Lagolah Program which gave him his training.
And in Conclusion
The entire Ohr Somayach Family joins in wishing you and yours a "freileche Purim".
Rabbi Mendel Weinbach | Rabbi Nota Schiller