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Friday, March 21, 2008

Dvar Torah for Parshat Tzav

By Malka Touger

G-d commands the Jewish people: "An eternal flame should always be kept burning on the altar; it should never be extinguished."
The fire on the altar where the sacrifices were offered should always continue to burn. In the Holy Temple, there was a special chamber where hot coals were kept burning, so that the fire on the Alter could be relit whenever necessary.
When G-d commanded the Jewish people to build the Tabernacle, He said: "And I will dwell within them." Shouldn't the verse have said "I will dwell within it"? It says "them" to teach us that every Jewish person is like a miniature Temple. Every Jew must always have a fiery love for G-d in his heart, just like the fire which burns all the time on the altar.
In the Talmud, our Rabbis teach us more details about this mitzvah: The fire on the altar was to be kept burning even on Shabbat and even when we are impure.
In the same way, we Jews should always feel a deep love for G-d, whether we are on a level of Shabbat or on a level of impurity.
What do we mean by "a level of Shabbat"?
On Shabbat, we wish each other Shabbat Shalom. The Hebrew word Shalom comes from the root of the Hebrew word whole and complete (shaleim). We feel complete on Shabbat. We relax and we do not worry about our weekday work, acting as if it were completed.
On Shabbat, we are also given an extra Shabbat soul that helps us pray better, learn better, and understand G-d's holiness better. But a Jew on the level of Shabbat might only pay attention to his learning and understanding, and he might ignore his feelings. So G-d reminds him of the "eternal flame... even on Shabbat." The burning love for G-d in our hearts should never relax.
Then our Rabbis add, "even when impure." Even if a Jew is impure, he should dig deep into his heart and bring out the love for G-d which is always there.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

An International Tale...

King Achashverosh was Finnish with his disobedient wife Vashti. "You
Congo now!" he ordered her. After she had Ghana way, the king's
messengers went Roman the land to find a new queen. And India end, the
beautiful Esther won the crown.

Meanwhile, Mordechai sat outside the palace, where the Chile Haman
would Czech up on him daily.

"I Haiti you because you refuse to bow to me!" Haman scolded
Mordechai. "USA very stubborn man. You Jews are such Bahamas! If you
keep his up, Denmark my words! I will have all your people killed!
Just Kuwait and see, you Turkey!"

Mordechai went into mourning and tore his clothes-a custom known as
Korea. He urged Esther to plead with the king. The Jews fasted for
three days and grew very Hungary. Esther approached the king and
asked, "Kenya Belize come to a banquet I've prepared for you and Haman?"

At the feast, she invited her guests to a second banquet to eat Samoa.

The king asked, "Esther, why Jamaica big meal like this? Just tell me
what you want. Unto half my United Kingdom will I give you." Esther
replied, "Spain full for me to say this, but Haman is Russian to kill
my people."

Haman's loud Wales could be heard as he carried Honduran this scene.
"Oman!" Haman cried bitterly. "Iraq my brains in an effort to destroy
the Jews. But that sneaky Mordechai - Egypt me!"

Haman and his ten sons were hanged and went immediately to the
Netherlands. And to Sweden the deal, the Jews were allowed to Polish
off the rest of their foes as well. "You lost your enemies and Uganda
friend," the king smiled.

And that is why the Purim story Israeli a miracle. God decided to
China light on His chosen people.

So now, let's celebrate! Forget all your Syria's business and just he
happy! Serb up some wine and Taiwan on! Happy Purim!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Purim Thought

Behind the Mask
by Leah Larson

One of the highlights of Purim is dressing up. We love to get to be someone new for a day, try out a different role, step into someone else's shoes. Whether it's Queen Esther, a cowgirl, doctor, rabbi, or baby, if it's a really good costume sometimes it's even hard to recognize who's behind the costume! There are many reasons we dress up on Purim, including the idea of concealment and hidden miracles. But what lesson is there in it for us?
Really, we wear masks all year long. We decide "I'm someone with curly hair", "she's someone short", "she's someone snobby". We focus on the outer layer of everyone; just what our eyes can see. When we make our outside our focus, it's easy to look down on others. "I'm prettier than her", "I'm smarter than her", "I'm richer than her"... We get so caught up with our 'costumes' that we don't even realize who's really inside the costume. Our soul. The essence of who we are. Although we might HAVE curly hair, freckles, or a good memory, what we ARE is a Jewish soul. And all Jewish souls are really one. 
When we look past the outside and see the true essence of who a person is, we can love them and be truly united with them. May our ahavas yisroel (love of a fellow Jew) and unity bring us to Moshiach when holiness won't be disguised, but will be revealed for all to see.
Have a very happy Purim! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Interview with Queen Esther

With purim coming up, we present you this exclusive YALDAH interview (from issue #14, Winter 2007-08) with Queen Esther!

Interview with Queen Esther
by Shaina Rubin, age 14 from IL

YALDAH: We are very privileged to be able to speak to Queen Esther of Persia. She’s going to take us back through history to the time of the Purim story. Let’s start at the beginning.
What was it like for you to be in the king’s beauty contest?

Esther: There was a lot of tension at the beauty contest. Every woman there was given special, fancy clothing and makeup. The women had a long time to get ready; many were there for months! Sometimes the king’s advisors would come and take notes on who was there. I didn’t want to be queen, so I spent time helping other women get ready instead of me.

YALDAH: Were you scared when you found out you were the new queen?
Esther: I was terrified. I won when I wasn’t even trying. I was also scared because I didn’t want anyone to know that I was Jewish. And, of course, I did not want to marry a non-Jew. I wasn’t just scared; I was shocked!

YALDAH: What happened when you first became queen?
Esther: First, someone had to tell me all the palace rules. For example, you can’t go see the king unless he gives you permission.

YALDAH: When was the first time you heard about Haman, the kings’ evil advisor? When did you first see him?
Esther: I first saw Haman at the beauty contest. He was standing by the king and pointing out different women to him. And there are always rumors floating around the palace about the king’s advisors. But I didn’t really know much about him until Mordechai told me. Mordechai said that Haman was planning on wiping out all the Jews in Shushan – and he had the king’s permission! Let me tell you, it’s really freaky when your husband gives someone permission to wipe out all your people. Even if he doesn’t realize it. Anyway, I told Mordechai to have all the Jewish people fast and pray for three days even though it was Pesach. At the end of three days, I said I would go talk to the king about it, even though it meant the king might put me to death because I didn’t have permission to see him.

YALDAH: You must have been really scared when you went to see the king without permission. What were you thinking when the king allowed you to talk to him?
I thanked Hashem for letting me come so far with my plan. Mordechai told me that I was made queen for a reason, in order to save the Jewish people. I knew that I couldn’t let them down!

YALDAH: So you made a big wine tasting party for the king and Haman. What was that like?
I was really scared. Sitting right in front of me was the man who wanted to kill me! But I kept telling myself to calm down…it was all Hashem’s plan.

YALDAH: What happened at the second party?
It all happened so quickly. First I thanked the king and Haman for coming to the party, and all that. Then I told the king that there was an evil man who was trying to kill all of my people. The king was really confused until I explained that I was Jewish. I then pointed to Haman and said that he was the evil man. You should have seen Haman’s face! He looked so scared! Haman didn’t realize that I was Jewish. The king, on the other hand, was getting more and more angry. He finally said (after taking a few deep breaths) that Haman should be hanged on the very same gallows that Mordechai was going to be hanged on. I was never so happy in my life!

YALDAH: That’s an amazing story! What lesson do you want Jewish girls nowadays to learn from you?
Everything is for a reason. Just because you have a problem, it doesn’t mean you’ll have it forever. Hashem put you into that situation for a reason, so He’ll obviously get you out of it! It might take some courage and maybe sacrifices, but this is happening to you for a purpose.