Dealing with Adversity – Purim Thoughts

Haman was distraught that Mordechai did not bow to him and brought an accusation against Klal Yisrael to Achashverosh: “There is one nation scattered and dispersed (mefuzar umeforad) among the nations … their laws are different … and they do not observe the King’s laws; therefore, it is not befitting the King to tolerate them” (Megillas Esther 3:8). Haman enumerated a list of complaints against us, according to the Gemara in Megillah 13 — we are unproductive, we have dietary restrictions and won’t intermarry with the King’s subjects, we are idle since we observe the Sabbath and holidays and never work. Haman pointed out, “If a fly falls into a Jew’s glass he removes the fly and drinks the wine, but if the King merely touches the glass, they throw it to the ground.”

His complaints — as those of our enemies throughout the generations up to the present — were unfounded and twisted to suit his agenda. We are the most productive in terms of our myriad contributions to humanity, the Shabbos and Yamim Tovim represent a tiny fraction of the time taken off our labors and the nations have plenty of suitors from whom to choose to marry.

However, as Me’am Loez explains, “mefuzar umeforad” can imply a lack of achdus. It is at such a time that enemies such as Amalek can attack us. The Beis Hamikdash was destroyed due to sinas chinam — baseless hatred. This attitude brings denunciation upon us. In contrast, at Mattan Torah we conducted ourselves with achdusBnei Yisrael encamped at Har Sinai ke’ish echad b’lev echod — as one man, with one heart (Rashi, Shemos 19:2), unlike other occasions when there was division. Achdus does not mean we all have the same opinions and customs but means people of different opinions and customs can coexist in harmony. As in the days of Mordechai and Esther, Klal Yisrael is still “dispersed and scattered among the nations.” But recent events show we are “one nation.”

Being “dispersed and scattered” actually shows our strength. Despite some differences in custom, there are frum communities worldwide, all keeping the same Torah. There are shuls, yeshivos, kollelim and other amenities of Yiddishkeit in locations where this would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. If a Jew finds himself in one of these enclaves, he can count on help and hospitality. A Rav in a certain foreign city was told by the Rabbanim there that “hair would grow on the palm of his hand” before there would be a yeshivah in their city. Hair did not grow on his palm and not one but a few yeshivos sprouted in that location. Jews uniting for a good cause contributed to that accomplishment.

Achdus enables us to overcome adversity and see great redemption as at the time of Purim.


On Purim, we experienced “v’nahafoch hu — a complete turnaround.” Elements of the Purim story that seemed bleak were overturned to salvation: Esther was chosen as Achashverosh’s queen, a most inappropriate assignment for a bas Yisrael and, through that very post, she rescued Klal Yisrael. Haman built a gallows on which to hang Mordechai, and it was ultimately used to hang Haman himself. Mordechai seemed to be the catalyst of the decree against the Yidden, and yet, he was the one who effected the solution. And 13 Adar changed from the day chosen for annihilation to the day Klal Yisrael defeated their enemies.

Sometimes we need to reverse ourselves to access rachamei Shamayim. We need to go out of our comfort zones. The following story related by Harav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l, illustrates this point.

There are accounts of people who visited great tzaddikim for a yeshuah and when they did not receive the brachah or the assurance they sought, declared they would not leave until they did. Yet, others in that position sized up the situation differently.

Rav Pincus knew a Yid who had lost his family in the war and found his way to Eretz Yisrael. He established a kesher with the Brisker Rav, zt”l, who found him a suitable shidduch and he remarried.

Years went by and the couple still had no children. Finally, after many years, they had one child and then one more.

When someone asked the father whether he had asked the Brisker Rav for a brachah for children, he surprisingly answered no. “The Brisker Rav arranged my shidduch. I did not want to cause him pain by giving the impression that I was not happy with this chessed he did for me. I believe it is in that zechus that I ended up meriting these children.”

Purim conveys to us that even when there is hester — Hashem seems hidden from us — there is potential for good to result. It may be difficult to contemplate at the time but if we look to the past, it becomes real to us. In hindsight, we can see how the Ribbono shel Olam was behind the scenes, guiding us, every step of our lives.

Rabbi Yosef Gesser is a longtime writer for Hamada Newspaper as well as an inspirational speaker on various topics, including dealing with adversity. He can be reached at

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