Patience and Acceptance, Purification and Purim

When we hear the word “savlanus,” we generally think of the commendable attribute of patience. We conjure an image of standing at the back of a long line at the local bank, anxiously checking the clock every 15 seconds, or sticking around to listen to the long-winded recollections of an elderly neighbor when we are already late for work.

Certainly, this aspect of savlanus is very important to our interpersonal relationships — but in reality savlanus includes a whole lot more. Savlanus is all about being soveil, about accepting and tolerating situations and conditions.

Chazal tell us (Bereishis Rabbah 84:20) that because Yaakov Avinu donned sackcloth after he was shown the blood-soaked shirt of Yosef Hatzaddik, his descendant Mordechai Hatzaddik donned sackcloth during the story of the Megillah.

At first glance this Chazal seems perplexing. What connection is there between Yaakov Avinu mourning the disappearance and apparent death of his beloved son, and the grave danger that befell his descendants during the time of Achashverosh?

Chazal (Yoma 29a) state that as dawn comes at the end of the night, so is the story of Esther the end of the miracles. This, too, seems surprising. Shouldn’t the lack of open miracles be compared to the end of day rather than the end of night and the dawn of a new day?

An essential part of our mission in this temporal world is to rid our souls of all impurities. In order to purify ourselves, we invariably must undergo tribulations and suffering.

Yaakov Avinu suffered challenge after challenge, tribulation after tribulation. Persecuted by his brother who sought to kill him, he then suffered terribly at the hands of his father-in-law. Even when he finally returned to reunite with his father, he suffered the tragedy of Dinah. Yaakov Avinu accepted it all with perfect emunah, focusing only on the kindness of Hashem. He never mourned or expressed sadness about his situation — until the tragedy of Yosef.

Here, too, it was not anything related to this temporal world that he mourned. Rather, it was his World to Come; he had been given a sign that if any of the shevatim predeceased him, this would mean that he would not merit Olam Haba.

Nonetheless, since Yaakov Avinu resorted to sackcloth, this meant that his descendants would also be unable to tolerate the intense suffering they would endure without resorting to visible acts of mourning.

The incredible miracles that Hashem caused for Bnei Yisrael as they entered the Midbar did not comprise the ideal scenario. It would have been far more preferable for them to eat grass and suffer hunger and thirst and be soveil — accept it all with joy. Had they done so, they would have been able to once and for all rid their souls of all impurities and rectify the sin of the eitz hadaas — but this is something that can only be done through avodas Hashem performed with joy. But Bnei Yisrael didn’t accept their circumstances and it became necessary for miracles to occur, including mann falling from Shamayim.

At the most pivotal time of the crisis, Esther Hamalkah invited Achashverosh and Haman to a feast, and then to a second feast. The message she sought to send was one of simchah and bitachon that Hashem’s salvation was imminent.

After the miracle of Purim, Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah anew of their own free will, and took upon themselves to be soveil, to accept whatever Hakadosh Baruch Hu sends their way and recognize that it is all for a higher purpose.

No longer was it necessary for Bnei Yisrael to experience miracles as they wandered in the Midbar; instead, the process of spiritual purification began. Therefore, the end of an era of miracles is indeed akin to dawn, for it heralds the beginning of day.

(Adapted from Drashos Chasam Sofer, p. 185)

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We have no inkling of the loftiness of a dor dei’ah or an Esther Hamalkah, and certainly not of a Yaakov Avinu. But this Torah thought bears a very applicable message for us all to ponder this Shabbos Zachor: In the words of the Chasam Sofer: “One savlan accomplishes more than several tefillos.”

We cannot possibly fathom how much we accomplish each time we choose to fortify ourselves with emunah and accept instead of complain. While we must, of course, always daven for a situation to improve, the recognition that challenges and tribulations are part of a purification process makes it possible for us to fill our hearts with joy, even at the most challenging of moments.

Purim is a day of sublime holiness. It is also a day to fill our hearts with emunah and bitachon, which are the pathways to true happiness and unlimited joy.