The Gemara in Megilah (16a) tells us that when Haman looks for Mordechai to carry out King Achashverosh’s reward of riding on the king’s horse, dressed in royal clothes, he finds Mordechai in the Beis Hamedrash teaching hilchos kemitzah. Hilchos kemitzah are technical laws involving flour offerings.
Why hilchos kemitzah now?
A well-known public speaker once told me that he tries to throw in the word “relevant” in the first 60 seconds of any of his talks as a means of engaging his audience.
Hilchos kemitzah? The first Beis Hamikdash has been destroyed and the second has yet to come. There is no Beis Hamkidash, no flour offerings and no kemitzah? Hardly relevant or pressing!?
The answer is that Mordechai is teaching a powerful message. Klal Yisrael are in deep trouble. The noose is tightening around their neck. A date for state sanctioned genocide has been set. Mordechai does his hishtadlus, he makes every effort to guide Esther and together with the rest of the Jewish people, he fasts and prays. And then he teaches hilchos kemitzah.
In so doing, he is telling Klal Yisrael the message of last week’s haftorah that we read before Purim every year – נצח ישראל לא ישקר. Mordechai is saying we may be in a precarious state, but we will get through this, we will prevail. There will yet be a Beis Hamikdash and Kohanim will once again perform the avodah and take a kemitzah.
A timely and timeless message for Purim 2022. Covid turned our world upside down and we slowly emerge to find a world at war.
But we should take comfort in the message of Purim. We may be in a precarious state, but we will get through this, we will prevail. And just like Purim follows Ta’anis Esther, we hope and pray that light will follow darkness.
Wishing you and your families an enjoyable, meaningful and safe Purim.
Rabbi J Golker