Good Erev Shabbos and Erev Purim our dear Members!

It says in Chazal, אין פורניעוס בא לעולם אלא בשביל ישראל

Calamity does not come to the world except to teach the Jewish people a lesson.

While this should be a time of tremendous joy, the world is shaking and shivering. A virus is spreading from person to person contaminating and sickening people all over the globe. There must be a lesson for the Jewish people in this, particularly since this is happening right before Purim.

We know that it says in the megillah, קיימו וקבלו, the Yidden fulfilled what they had accepted in the past. Chazal say that this refers to תורה שבעל פה, accepting Oral Law as well as the written law they accepted at Mt Sinai.

Although they certainly fulfilled the Oral Law, since a Jewish person cannot lift the finger without detailed and intricate knowledge of the Oral Law, the spirit and the essence of it was lacking. What does that mean?

When an  עם הארץ, a simple, boorish person, hears some kind of law or גזרה (decree) from the Rabbonim, his first reaction is to say, “Why must I listen to them? Who says they know any more than me? They’re just people!”

This was the exact same issue that the students of Rabbi Akiva had (24,000 of them died during Sefira). They didn’t show respect to each other. This was their shortcoming and downfall. From that attitude, it is just a tiny step to looking down on others and which may lead to baseless hatred. If I don’t respect, then I disrespect. And I certainly am not bound to listening to others, when I am just as “great” as anyone else.

The Jewish people at Har Sinai were willing to listen to Hashem. But to willingly listen to another person, even someone who obviously is greater than them in character and Torah knowledge, that, they were not willing to do.

So if Mordechai Hatzadik tells them not to go to the party of Achshveirosh, their conclusion was “How much does he really know or understand about our civic duty and being politically correct? He’s just another person and he can be wrong!”

The very first step to being מחשיב the גדולים (respecting our Rabbanim), is to first be נוהג כבוד זה לזה, to respect each other. If greatness exists within each person, then certainly somebody who is a גדול בתורה, a sage, and righteous person, must be listened to and obeyed.

Therefore, some of the mitzvos that the Rabbis decreed for Purim involved בין אדם לחברו, caring and focusing on our personal connections. Particularly משלוח מנות, presents to each other.

Respecting great people begins with respecting and valuing each and every person!

We can clearly see what the lesson of the virus is. One of the scariest aspects of this disease is how easily it is passed from one person to the next. Does this remind us of Lashon Harah? Of hurting and insulting the next person? When one Jew is condescending towards another, their reputation can fall apart and be destroyed forever. Gossip is like a virus. The rectification is Purim, to respect each other, to invite each other to a feast, to send presents and give Tzedaka. All this makes us value each other so much more. 

And if we value each other, how much more must we value Reb Chaim Kanievsky, Reb Shlomo Zalman, or Reb Shmuel Kaminetzky?

My dear friends, this idea may seem like a stretch but think about it. The same people who casually speak negatively about Gedolim, are also the ones who are condescending and degrading to Yidden in general. The שורש, the root cause is the same!

This is why in our family, we have made it a point to bring up the children never to degrade anyone, period. We love and cherish every single soul, even those that know nothing about their heritage and we feel no connection to.

Let our love spread and be a tikun for this global virus that threatens mankind!

Wishing each and every one of you a beautiful and joyous Purim and a restful and peaceful Shabbos!

Much love,

Rabbi Benzion Klatzko