15 Iyar 5779 / Monday, May 20, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bechukotai
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With the image of a Persian palace belly-dancer in his head, the Jew wouldn't be able to learn Torah or pray, even if he didn't assimilate...


Haman wanted the Jews to attend King Achashverosh's coronation feast. He arranged the best glatt-kosher catering along with the most magnificent mevushal wines from strictly-kosher Jewish boutique wineries. The fresh bakery bread and rolls were all pat yisroel and yashan, with the flour sifted a dozen times so that there'd be no trace of a worm or insect egg. There was a battalion of supervisors from all the most stringent kashruth organizations.

So why didn't Mordechai want the Jews to attend?

He knew that Haman had arranged a trap. Yes, the Jews would be eating as kosher as can be. They'd  have their own tables in the royal ballroom. But, the Jewish men would be exposed to parades after parades of scantly-clad Persian woman - each more enticing than the next. Temptation would surely gain the upper hand. And, as great-grandfather Amalek always said, their G-d hates promiscuity.  Haman knew that they'd lose their minds with lust at such an event, and that would be their downfall. He was well aware that any Jew who would attend the king's grand ball and feast would not be the type of individual that guards his eyes. So, once the Jew would fall prey to Persia's beauties, he'd throw away his tradition and assimilate. Even if he didn't, he could never go back to his Sarah or Miriam with the image of a Persian palace belly-dancer in his head. Lovesick with something that was forbidden to him, he wouldn't be able to learn Torah or pray. Either way, thought the evil Haman, that's it for the Jews...


Thanks to Mordechai and Esther, with Hashem's limitless mercy, Haman fell into his own trap and the Jews were saved.
Rebbe Natan says repeatedly that the breach of personal holiness by sexual lust is the prime spiritually contaminating power of Amalek and Haman. In each generation, the Jewish People must face the challenge of debauchery and temptation, for this is the war against Amalek in each generation.
The Gemara tells a story about one of history's most famous baalei teshuva - Mar Ukva.
Most people - even Torah scholars - drop their jaws when they hear that Mar Ukva was a BT (baal teshuva). He was not only reish galuta, the President of the Jewish People in Diaspora at the time, but he was such an outstanding rabbinical court judge that even Shmuel of Nahardaa - one of the three leading scholars of the generation - looked up to him.
Tractate Shabbat mentions a tzaddik by the name of Natan Tzutzita, whose name means that Hashem "gave him a bright light" that reflects from his forehead. Whenever he'd walk in the public domain, this bright light would shine from him, so that's how he got his name.
Rashi in an obscure comment found on tractate Sanhedrin 31b, says he discovered in an ancient book of legends that Natan Tzutzita was none other than Mar Ukva, who was a Baal Teshuva. The story makes any Hollywood screenplay look boring...

Mar Ukva, before he became a Baal Teshuva, would freely look at women; that got him into big trouble. Once, he saw a gorgeous woman whom he craved. When he found out that she was married and forbidden to him, he became lovesick and literally bedridden, in danger of his life. Meanwhile, the married woman and her husband became destitute. No one would give or lend them a cent. She knew that Mar Ukva had money, so in desperation, she knocked on his door. In her heart, she was prepared to submit herself to him in order to save herself from such dire poverty. Mar Ukva could have easily taken advantage of her. Instead, without touching her or even looking at her, he gave her the money she needed and sent her on her way.
Mar Ukva's phenomenal act of teshuva made such a deep impression in the spiritual realm that the Samech-Mem, Amalek's administering angel, fell over backwards. On the spot, it was decreed that Mar Ukva would not only become a complete penitent, but a magnificent Torah scholar, judge and leader of the Jewish People and a tzaddik whose countenance reflected Divine light just like Moses!
* * *
Purim is not only a celebration of the miracle that Hashem did for us in Persia some 2,500 years ago. Every year, Amalek and Haman renew their war against us; the closer we get to the time of redemption, the more difficult the spiritual battle becomes. The story of Mar Ukva teaches us that one Jew, through one act of teshuva and holiness, is capable of toppling Haman and Amalek. Let each of us think that the responsibility falls on our individual shoulders, for any Jew is capable of being a Mar Ukva or a Mordechai. Happy Purim!
* * *
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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  illuminates ketubot67 Mar Ukva's hiding from his tzedaka recipient to maintain anonymit
dzgarber3/21/2016 11:24:39 AM

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