April 17, 2024
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April 17, 2024
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Purim Events Occur Year Round—Let’s Open Our Eyes

Everyone is talking about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Such incredible upheaval and destruction! It seems random, but we know from our own Purim story that random events, even frightening ones, are guided by the Hand of Hashem.

Let me share a remarkable story about a student of mine, Boruch Falkovsky, who was born and raised in the Soviet Union and had his own “Purim” miracle. At 35, Boruch applied to visit the USA. It took months to get an appointment to buy a plane ticket from the one seller in Russia: the KGB in Moscow. Knowing there would be a long line, he traveled to Moscow the night before and was standing in line by 6 a.m. He waited all day and finally was told, “No more tickets.” His dream shattered, Boruch visited his relatives in Moscow. His cousin urged him to stay a bit longer.

The next morning, Boruch’s cousin told him, “Great news! My wife got a ticket for you!” His wife worked in an exclusive buffet at the KGB offices. She approached a KGB officer, asked her for a favor and was sold a ticket! The Divine Hand was clear: the KGB that blocked Boruch from going to America initially ended up selling him the ticket! Boruch flew to America and never looked back. For him, it was a one-way ticket.

A few years later, his parents and sister (with her husband and son) came to “visit” America. They applied for political asylum but were denied. They were in a quandary. Their only way to get asylum legally was to return to Russia and apply there. But to the U.S., their story of religious persecution would look odd if they willingly returned. They consulted with both the Rachmastrivka Rebbe and the Lubavitcher Rebbe and were told to go back—all would be well.

They returned to Russia. They knew that the Russian mafia would be waiting for them, assuming that Russians returning from the U.S., especially Jews, were wealthy world travelers who could be profitably robbed! Turns out, a family friend was a doctor for the son of the local mafia leader. They asked for “protection” and…they got it! The day they were scheduled to arrive in Moscow, the mob leader himself took two armored vehicles to the airport to pick the family up personally. The message was clear to anyone watching: no one could come near these people! Indeed, the very real threat to the family turned into their own security team. Amazing! Eventually, the family received political asylum status from the USA and moved here.

These are two modern-day stories of v’nahafoch hu; the enemy’s evil efforts ultimately got turned around and led them toward becoming the source of salvation for the Jews. That’s Purim!

Rav Dessler points out that everything Haman did to destroy klal Yisrael or Mordechai backfired and got switched around. The day that was designated to kill all the Jews turned around to be a day when the Jews destroyed their enemies! And Haman built sturdy gallows to hang Mordechai, but the gallows ended up being used to hang him!

So many events in the Megillah got turned around. The Gemara says Haman prepared the entire stage for his own downfall. He was the one who advised Achashverosh to kill Vashti. Vashti’s death then set the stage for Esther to become the new queen and eventually save the Jews. Later, Achashverosh asked Haman how to accord honor to someone special in the eyes of the king. Haman the egotist thought it was him the king wanted to honor, but in the end Haman had to accord this honor to Mordechai, his arch nemesis.

The Megillah is replete with events that seemed to be leading to the impending destruction of the Jewish nation, but instead led to the eventual salvation of the Jews. This is alluded to in the name Purim, which comes from the word “pur”—lottery. On the surface, all events seemed to happen by chance. But it was all an intricate plan designed by the Almighty.

Sometimes we get a glimpse of how Hashem makes the plans of our enemies backfire. Boruch Falkovsky experienced a personal Purim story. But we all have personal stories that beckon us back to the Megillah—stories of apparent impending doom that fully turned around into a good ending. These are the weavings of Hashem, which build the tapestry of our lives. If we look closely we will be able to see the many miraculous events that happen all around us. This in turn will reinforce our belief that the Hand of Hashem is always present and guiding the world.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged but any contributions are always welcome. Beyond PTI, Rabbi Bodenheim conducts a weekly beis midrash program with chavrusa learning in Livingston plus a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit pti.shulcloud.com.

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