By: Tehilla Berger 

(Current MMY Student)

Purim is perhaps the most popular holiday among Jewish children. After all, on what other holiday is it a custom both to dress up and to receive free candy? While masquerading on Purim is both enthralling and invigorating, the peculiarity of the custom begs explanation.

The Mishna Torah has a section in זמנים devoted to the הלכות of פורים and חנוכה. The title "הלכות מגילה וחנוכה" contains a blatant incongruity. Why doesn't the Rambam refer to these הלכות as "הלכות פורים וחנוכה"? Why are the הלכות of פורים referred to by the restrictive title "הלכות מגילה"? What is it about the centrality of the מגילה on פורים that allows it to trump all the other מצוות היום in significance? Furthermore, in the last הלכה in the section, the Rambam equates the importance of the מגילה to that of the חמישה חומשי תורה בימות המשיח. Although the rest of נביאים and כתובים will no longer be relevant, מגילת אסתר will remain pertinent and applicable. While we will abandon the practice of recollecting the painful experiences in Jewish History, we will always commemorate the story of the Jews in שושן. In effect, the message of the מגילה is so great, it is paramount to כל התורה כולה. What then is the potent, vital message that the מגילה imparts to its readers?

Read more: Ephemeral or Eternal? The Message of the Masquerade


Sherut Shiur with Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky

      Talmidot in MMY have many opportunities to glean the finest values of commitment to Talmud Torah and Shemirat Hamitzvot, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. It is no wonder that so many talmidot go on to live these values in their lives. Every year there are talmidot who actualize these values by making Aliyah and by serving Am Yisrael through Sherut Leumi. This year’s exemplary group of B’not Sherut requested a special weekly shiur for their chevra. They thereby combine all of these values in a weekly event. Appropriately enough, they chose to study Sefer Hamitzvot with Rabbi Yitzchak Twersky.

      During the first half of the year, they learned many of the Rambam’s shorashim in depth, together with the Ramban and other relevant sources. This afforded an opportunity to analyze many of the fundamental concepts in Torah and the halachic system. It is inspiring to see how they gather, week after week, to come and learn- despite their long hours and demanding work in sheirut.

      “As a group of B’not Sherut,” says Hannah Ash, “now living on our own in Israel, we rely on the help of others to make us feel comfortable and afford us with their inviting hospitality. We feel lucky to say that MMY has created that for us. The opportunity to come back to the home we made at MMY is unbelievably special to both me and my peers. This year has given us the opportunity to step outside the world of the midrasha and into the working world, with the incredible caveat of always being able to take the Beit Midrash with us. Rabbi Twersky's ability to teach so dynamically inspires me every week and gives me the strength to continue my learning a little bit more, even when it’s late and I am tired. I am so thankful to my teachers and friends who make me feel so welcome every time I step into the building, I don’t feel like a (Lone) Bat Sherut knowing I have MMY's support.”

      Elisheva Jeffay shares: “I’m doing my Sherut Leumi this year in shaarei tzedek hospital, which may be one of the hardest things I have ever done. It's not an easy job, and it's in Ivrit, but I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing it is the right thing for me to be doing right now. Looking back, I can see how much being in MMY has helped me thrive this year. I have the confidence to learn real texts independently, and I’m able to feel that I am doing something positive for myself.  But the weekly Sherut Shiur on Sefer Hamitzvot has helped me feel not only the benefits of seminary from last year, but also that I am still connected. I have realized how 'spoiled' I was in the quality of teaching I got used to last year, and would have missed it even more this year if not for this shiur.”

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