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Alumni Corner: Yaakov Berezin

Purim Preparation

With Purim coming up around the corner, there are three powerful ideas that I learned and would like to share. Hopefully the ideas and impact from the learning can inspire us not only to have an amazing Adar aleph and Adar bet, but also to keep in rising and growing all-year long.

The Gemara in Megillah teaches us that Mordechai and others were learning about the Omer. Suddenly, Haman walks in, and he asks Mordechai, "Why aren't you mourning?" He was confused that Mordechai and his followers had learned of Haman's might and strength in enforcing the gezeirah against the Jews, promising to decimate every last one of us. Yet, here he walks in and seems Mordechai learning with others in a jolly mood? He couldn't fathom what was going on. Mordechai's response was that the Omer was going to save us and is comparable to the 10 kikar of gold that you gave to Achashveirosh to decree on our destruction.

Mordechai was looking into the future and said one day the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt and we will have the Omer, and be bringing korbanos to Hashem without fear of any enemies. This is what we have to look forward to and the prophecy will be fulfilled, so thereby we know for certain that we will be saved. Even amidst the fear of Haman's decree, Mordechai sat confidently learning about the very thing that promised to him that Hashem wouldn't dare let anyone harm His Chosen people.

We also find that the Gemara tells how Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues were walking by the ruins of the Beis HaMikdash, and they saw a fox run out of the area that was the Kodesh Hakedoshim. All the other men started crying in dismay over the terrible destruction that befell the Jewish people. However, Rabbi Akiva saw this and started laughing. His colleagues asked him - How could you laugh after seeing such a terrible thing? He responded, that just like the pain and suffering that befell us is all proven true from prophecies, this too, that the Beis Hamikdash will once again stand restored in its full glory and we will all rejoice, must also be true based on the nevuos. Amidst the darkness of the tragedy that surrounded them, Rabbi Akiva, in his greatness, was able to perceive the beautiful and uplifting truth of Hashem's promise to Klal Yisroel - that one day our Glory and simcha will be rebuilt for eternity.

Finally, when Mordechai sent Esther to confront Achashveirosh about the decree - it was a whole year before the gezeirah against the Jews. She was pretty early to the trigger. She didn't have to do anything for a whole year! So why would Mordechai make her jump in so early when it seemed almost unnecessary? The answer is that Mordechai saw that there was a danger ahead. He knew that Haman wouldn't waste any time trying to enacts his evil plans and put them in action. Granted, that may take time, but if there is work to do, time cannot be wasted. Mordechai signalled to Esther that hope and salvation cannot come at the expense of pushing things off to the last second. When there is something that needs to be done - we cannot waste any time in doing it.

With Purim closing in on us, it is important to take a step back from all of our busy schedules and ask ourselves, what can we be doing to prepare for Purim? What can we be doing to build our relationship with Hashem? Through these three insights, we can learn three powerful lessons that will hopefully uplift our Purim and year. Firstly, just like Mordechai sat confidently learning about the Omer - we never give up when times are tough. The geulah is always coming and salvation is always right around the corner. Secondly, we learn from Rabbi Akiva laughing after seeing the fox - That even from the dark we always must seek the light and positivity. Finally, we can learn from Esther jumping in to be the Queen so early - that whenever you have something to deal with and confront, you must jump in right away and not wait too long for the waters to cool. Struggle and adversity challenge us to become the greatest people we can be, and we must anticipate that and look forward to growing.

~ Yaakov Berezin is an alumni of Yeshivas Lev Zion and also serves as an administrator in the American Friends of Lev Zion not-for-profit. He lives and works in Lakewood, NJ.

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