The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: 2 Adar 13, 5768/March 20, 2008

Mordechai the Individual

The name of G-d does not appear in the scroll of Esther. Nor are His will or His "actions" described as they were, for example, throughout the Biblical narrative of the ten plagues in Egypt. He does not speak to Mordechai, either directly or through dream visions or parables. Yet Mordechai throws himself into the thick of the drama, the very heart of the intrigue. He acts cooly yet forcefully, confident that with patience and persistence all will turn out well. Or, borrowing the language of the scroll: the purim - the lots - having been cast, will fall as they should.

By keeping aloof of the great feast taking place within the palace walls, Mordechai was able to keep his head clear of the distractions and temptations of all that the movers and shakers, the well-connected, high-degree, elbow-rubbing who's who of Persian power and society had to offer. By not indulging in their impure delicacies, (as were many of his Jewish brethren), or consuming their barely hidden designs to bury the Holy Temple and disengage from G-d once and for all, (good-riddance to Him!), Mordechai was able to see and to hear and to comprehend that which no one else could: hidden as He may be, invisible as He may be, imperceptible as His actions may be, G-d is everywhere, or nowhere at all.

"Mordechai the Jew," (Esther 2:5) or, invoking the word play of our sages, Mordechai the individual. Not Mordechai the prophet or Mordechai the man of G-d: just Mordechai the individual. We all have the potential to be individuals if we so desire. The moment we drop our pretenses, strip off our masks, push aside what the mass media has to serve us, step away from the banquet table of lies, and remove ourselves from the conformity of the palace walls, we too can regain our eyes and our ears, revive our hearts and regain our conscience.

Let's be honest: We don't need a Minister of Justice to tell us what is right and what is wrong. Nor do we need a Secretary of Defense to show us who we need to wage war against. We certainly do not need a Commissioner of Police to know what is permissible and what is not. No one needs a CNN special report to know what the enemies of Israel are plotting against her, nor do we require a network weather caster to tell us what we ourselves can hear being whispered in the wind. Just as "the nations are compassed about [us]," (Psalms 118:10) so too, does G-d stand with us.

Achashverosh can don the garments of the high priest. And doing so, he reveals his vanity, not his greatness, his disregard for the G-d of Israel not his piety. Haman, and all those who ascribe to his delusions of grandeur, and there are many, can ride his high horse, holding himself above others, but he too will meet his fate at the end of a rope.

As for us, let us wine and dine together, seated as one at the table of His eternal truth, the Torah of Israel. And this Purim, as our heads cloud to the point that we can no longer distinguish between "Blessed be Mordechai," and "Cursed be Haman," we must still remain cognizant of the fact the G-d rewards all who place their trust in Him, and just as He was there for Mordechai and Esther and all the Jews of their generation, so too, will He be there for us.

Tune into this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the celebration of Purim, which this year in Jerusalem extends from Thursday evening through Sunday, (March 20 - 23), the unique character of Mordechai, the heightened perception of truth that we experience on Purim, and the dramatic events which took place in the Sanhedrin this past week.

Click to hear:

Part 1
Part 2