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Section:  Avodah   Category: HelpWanted
Mordechai's Strange Derech of Chinuch

When Haman, acting upon the instructions of Achashveirosh, came to take Mordechai for his joy ride on Achashveirosh's horse, the gemara Megila (16a) says, he found Mordechai learning with the children Hilchos Kemitza. It was the third day of fasting after Mordechai learned that the destruction of the Yehudim was already signed by Hashem. One would think they were saying Tehilim or learning Mussar. The poor kids were starving and the Yehudim were facing annihilation. Is this the best Mordechai can do, showing them the technicalities of how a Kohen grabs the flour of the Korbon Mincha with three fingers. Sounds like a "Kalte Litvak" gone mad. There are definitely Chinuch lessons hidden here beneath the surface but we are struggling to put our finger on one that is Emes. If you have any ideas with Rayos and/or Mekoros please let us know.

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Visitor Comments: 4

TH, Yerushalayim, 2008-03-11 01:40:42
Mordechai was teaching the children never to give up hope. No matter how bleak the situation, Bezras Hashem they will return to the Bais HaMikdash and offer korbonos once again.
yf, brooklyn, 2008-03-11 02:19:46
Torah is Torah. Its power is far beyond Human comprehension. It is not relevant what you are learning it causes a stir in Shamayim and has the power to turn the world on its head. By teaching the technical aspects of kemitza during this time of crisis Mordechai was giving over that message.
AR, 2008-03-20 04:50:12
In this weeks Parashah we learn about the Korban Minchah. The Minchah generally consisted of wheat and olive oil and some frankincense spice. Part of the Minchah process was Kemitzah. This is when the Kohen separated with his fingers a section of the Minchah that was to be burnt on the altar. The rest of the Minchah was usually consumed by the Kohanim.

The Gemara (Megillah 16a see also Esther Rabah 10:4) says that when Haman was going to Mordechai in order to bestow upon him the honors of King Achashverosh, he stumbled upon Mordechai sitting in front of the Chachamim and teaching the laws of Kemitzah.

The Midrash (Esther Rabah 9:4) explains further that the Chachamim who learned before Mordechai were children. According to the Midrash, this was Haman's second visit to Mordechai. Haman had come searching for Mordechai on the day before, in order to hang him on the recently finished gallows. On the previous night Haman had found Mordechai with 22,000 children who were all dressed in sackcloth and learning Torah. The children had already been fasting for three days. Haman ordered for them to be shackled in iron chains and appointed guards to watch them. Haman exclaimed, "Tomorrow I will kill these children first and then hang Mordechai!" All of the children then broke out in tears. Two hours into the night, Hashem listened to their cries, and "at that moment, Hash-m took the decrees [that He had written to punish the Jews] and tore them up."

When Haman saw Mordechai teaching the laws of Kemtizah the next day he inquired as to how much a Minchah usually cost. Mordechai replied that the Minchah was quite cheap. Haman then exclaimed A handful of your flour overcame my 10,000 silver talents. Haman is referring to the 10,000 talents he gave Achashverosh to destroy the Jews. Why is it that the laws of kemitzah have such importance in the Megillah story, so much so that Haman considers the Kemitzah as being the thing that was able to turn the tables in favor the Jews? Why also was Mordechai so involved with children throughout this story?

The Keren Orah suggests in his comments on Menachos (53a) that the Korban Minchah symbolizes a regular person. A person's Torah and Mitzvos are similar to the part of the Minchah that is separated during the Kemitzah process, which sanctifies part of the Minchah to be offered directly on the Mizbe'ach. A person's mundane acts are similar to the rest of the Minchah. The rest of the Minchah is eaten by Kohanim in order to give them strength to do the Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Similarly, a person's mundane acts give him strength in order to serve Hashem.

One of the reasons why the Jewish people were originally deserving of punishment in the Megillah story was because there was a lack of in-depth Torah learning. The Gemara in Bechoros (5b; see Rashi there) says that Amalek attacked the Jews only because "they (the Jews) weakened their hands from [studying] the words of the Torah." Only when the Jewish people rectified their flaws were they able to conquer Amalek. Similarly, Haman, who was from Amalek, succeeded in passing his evil decree only because the Jews "were lazy in the study of Torah" (Megilah 11a).

Mordechai therefore was trying to show the children about the Kemitzah that the Keren Orah explained had on one level represented Torah learning. Therefore Mordechai wanted to stress the importance of learning Torah at precisely that time. When Haman realized the weight of Mordechais actions he exclaimed that the kemitzah had defeated his 10,000 silver talents. With the Torah learning Mordechai was able to nullify the power of Amalek over the Jewish people.

Mordechai gave this message over precisely to children. Jewish children have a special power to protect the entire nation with their Torah learning. According to the Midrash (Shocher Tov 8; Shir ha'Shirim Rabah 1:4:1, see also Shabbos 33b), our children are our "guarantors" that we will study the Torah. Children learn Torah in the purest manner possible, since "the breath (speech) of one who has not sinned cannot be compared to that of one who has sinned" (Shabbos 119b).

At the time of Purim, the children -- who had not yet fulfilled their task of perpetuating the Torah for future generations -- were threatened along with the rest of the nation by Haman's evil plot. When the children led by Mordechai strengthened themselves in the study of Torah, the entire Jewish people merited to be saved from the hands of Haman. The redeemed nation was now prepared to accept the Torah anew (Shabbos 88a, "Kiyemu v'Kiblu").

It is therefore proper for us, as the inheritors of Torah, to learn properly with the coming of Purim. May it be Hashems will that our Torah learning be as pleasant as the Korban Minchah, and may He redeem us soon so that we may offer the Kometz one again.

YS, Yerushalayim, 2008-03-20 11:28:25
I heard from Rabbi Nissan Kaplan that the lesson is as follows.
You would think they would be learning halachos of kidush haShm to prepare for the disaster. but in truth, learning gemora b'amelus is the only thing that saves a person.

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