Purim throughout Jewish history has been regarded as one of the most joyful holidays of the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated with wearing costumes, lavish Purim seudot and general merry making. However, there are other aspects of Purim which teach us important lessons concerning the Jewish people, their past, present and future.
Our Parsha is most relevant and important, especially now, when the world questions our rights to Eretz Yisrael. In Shmot 6:8, Hashem promises to bring us to the land He promised to our forefathers, V'heiveiti etchem el haaretz asher nasati et yadi lateit ota l'Avraham, l'Yitzhak ulYaakov v'natati ota lachem morasha ani Hashem. "I will bring you to the land which I promised to give to Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov and I will give it to you as an inheritance, I am Hashem." There seems to be a contradiction between "V'Natati" and "Morasha". Natati implies a gift, while Morasha implies an inheritance. A gift is something you give to one who is worthy and who has earned it. An inheritance is something which one receives automatically handed down from generation to generation. There was much discussion in Talmud Bavli (BB117) and Yerushalmi (BB8:2), as to whom and how the land was divided. (TorahTemima Bamidbar 26:53). In any case, all agree that Eretz Yisrael was given to Am Yisrael as a Morasha, an inheritance. Why then is the term V'Natati (given) implying a deserved gift in the same pasuk.
When Yaakov beholds the royal chariots that Yosef had sent to bring him to Egypt, he was overcome with fear as a result of the realization that the protracted Egyptian Exile would now begin. Yaakov is afraid of what will happen to his descendants in the coming years. The Almighty appears to Yaakov and tells him not to be afraid to descend to Egypt. The Almighty says "I will make you into a great nation." How does this ease Yaakov's fears? The Sforno explains as follows: Were they to stay in Canaan the Jews would not multiply; rather, they would assimilate and intermarry with the Canaanite peoples. In Egypt, however, as a result of the fact that the Egyptians would not eat the bread of slaves, nor would they interact with them, the Jews could continue to grow maintaining their distinct national identity. (From this perspective, Jewish spiritual life in Muslim countries was perhaps better than that which we can witness today in modern Western countries where the rate of intermarriage is so high). G-d then says to Yaakov (B'reishit 46:4): "I will descend with you into Egypt and I will surely bring you back up".
The parsha opens with the words "Tzav et Aharon v'et banav..." "Command Aharon and his sons-" concerning the Olah sacrifice. Rashi, citing Torat Kohanim, asks: Why does the Torah use the the term "tzav" (command) rather than "daber" (speak) or "emor" (say)? He answers that "tzav" demands alacrity ("zerizut") in the performance of a mitzva and it implies 1) immediacy, 2) future applicability, and 3) according to Rabbi Shimon, the additional element of financial loss. Since all mitzvot do, in fact, require alacrity, it is particularly urged in the case of this mitzva because of the potential financial loss that it involves.
"Increase in the Land" Yaakov blesses his grandchildren Efrayim and Menashe: "Let them carry my name, along with the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak. May they increase in the Land like fish".
In this week's parsha a seemingly inordinate number of words are used to describe the negotiations for the purchase of Me'arat HaMachpela, Sarah's ultimate burial place. According to Ibn Ezra this is intended to stress the elevated value the Torah attributes to Eretz Yisrael in death as well as in life.
The Mishkan, according to Ramban, continues the Sinai experience. Just as Sinai revealed G-d, and provided Israel with Torah, so too the Mishkan protects the Torah (the Aron), and is a center for G-d's revelation. As a location of kedusha, the Mishkan, like Sinai, is treated with respect and distance - guarded by fire and clouds, with different people permitted or forbidden from drawing near.
The Mechilta describes the scenario and dialogue that took place among the tribes prior to the splitting of the sea. Bnei Yisrael were standing by the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army literally breathing down their necks. Suddenly, they began to argue about who should go into the water first. Each tribe vied for the opportunity to be the first to enter. During the negotiations, Nachshon ben Aminadav, of the Tribe of Yehuda, jumped into the threatening waters. Each time we say Hallel, we pay tribute to Yehuda's decisiveness and alacrity in taking the first plunge for which he merited being
People who have not made aliya tend to focus on how many difficulties they will face. They see family pressure, financial pressure, cultural pressure, pressure, pressure and more pressure
This week's haftara has a message that is so timely today, it is as if it were just written. Yirmiyahu is requested by Hashem to purchase a tract of land, and the request to purchase this land is accompanied with a prophecy of conquest of the very same land by the Kasdim. Being a devoted believer in Hashem and his messages, Yirmiyahu goes ahead and purchases the land with a very detailed purchase procedure, witnesses, a deed, public announcement of the purchase, and then for safe keeping, places the purchase proof, today called "tabu" in Israel, into an earthen vessel of clay so it can remain for a long time as proof of purchase.