Torah Tidbits

31 August 2014 / 5 Elul 5774
Issue 1034
Shabbat Parshat T'rumah
February 14, 2013

Guest Article

Living with Eyes Wide Shut! by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher - Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva

The Talmud in Megila 13b explains that when Haman targeted the Jews for annihilation, he said to Achashveirosh, “Let us implement the final solution to destroy the Jews.” Achashverosh replied, “Not so fast. I am afraid of their G-d lest He do to me what He did to my predecessors, Pharaoh and Nevuchadnetzar.” Haman relieved the king of that fear when he said, “Yeshno Am Echad” which translates literally as “There is ‘one certain nation’”. The Talmud quotes Rava who explains that Haman was telling the king something much more strategic and profound. Not only “Yeshno Am Echad”, “there is one certain nation”, but rather “Yoshnu Am Echad”, “There is a sleeping nation.” Haman slandered the Jewish People by saying, “they have been negligent of Mitzvot; they are divided by constantly fighting with one another and are completely divisive. They are asleep at the wheel as to what is important and what threatens them.”
Haman’s accusations sound frighteningly and eerily similar to our current political situation here in Israel. Then, the Jewish people were vulnerable and literally on the brink of destruction and extinction, because they were asleep to the danger facing them. Their eyes were closed to what was happening around them. They didn’t take the threats seriously, and didn’t stand up for their right to simply exist. Haman, like so many of our shrewd enemies throughout Jewish History, had a keen understanding of our weakness. He understood that going about business as usual, vicious political infighting, living with our eyes closed and sleepwalking through life expose us and makes us particularly vulnerable and susceptible to attack.
Haman recognized that “Yoshnu Am Echad”, “There is a nation that is sleeping”.
All he had to do was continue to lull the Jewish People into a false sense of security, to breed complacency, apathy and at that moment he could accomplish his goal of exterminating and destroying the Jewish People.
So how did we survive? What spoiled Haman’s plan? Why did we ultimately triumph over Haman such that we are still here, and he is a distant memory? The answer is simple - Mordechai and Esther, two heroes who stood up and like an alarm, rang and rang until they woke up our people from their practically comatose sleep.
The message and lesson for us in our time is that we must unite, be alert, and remain one step ahead of our enemies with G-d’s help.

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