A Pre-Purim Poem

The following is a sermon I gave at The Stanton St. Shul 02/27/2010 for Erev Purim. If memory serves, I believe I heard the main derash from R. Mordechai Friedman at Yeshivat Har Etzion but the poem is fully original.

I’m also proud to say this was the first sermon I gave which elicited applause. Most of my sermons typically evoke a standing ovation, though that’s probably due to kaddish.


Purim is tonight, as I’m sure you all know,
And we’ll reconvene later, despite all the snow.

To hear the megillah read loud and clear
As we’ve done every Purim for hundreds of years.

And it might seem strange to rehash and repeat
The same text twice a year, which we all must complete.

So where do we look for modern day meaning?
We start with our sages’ theological screening.

And so my friends let us now turn to see
The gemara in Hullin, 139b.

The question is asked where do we find
Haman in the Torah – meaning Bible – not combined.

Such a question to ask, and few could be greater!
For didn’t Haman live a thousand years later?

The question is written “המן מן התורה מנין”?
Haman in the Torah? You have to be lyin!

And if you think that the question is hard to believe
The answer refers back to Adam and Eve.

The gemara responds “המן העץ”, from the tree
In the Garden of Eden, where we’d all like to be.

Now this tree in question wasn’t known for its wood,
But in eating its fruit one knew evil and good.

This tree was unique, denied to God’s creations
And we know how this ends, Man succumbs to temptations.

Sadly this gemara offers no explanation
To connect trees to Purim – our final destination.

I’ll offer an answer, no need to fear,
Which I heard at some point – though I’m forgetting the year.

Think back as to why our dear Adam and Eve
Felt compelled to partake of this particular tree.

For of all of the trees Eden grew to be had,
They ate from the tree to know good and bad.

The answer in part is from a trait that is hidden,
There is nothing attractive as that which is forbidden.

When we want all the things we know we can’t get
We still keep on chasing, and running up debt.

So what caused man to the sin and subsequent woe,
Was the very restriction – that God told them, “no”.

Now if you’re wondering what will come next,
Let us return to the Megillah, our old Purim text.

Haman, the villain, as you may recall,
Had wealth and had power – he did have it all.

And the people to Haman would all kneel and bow,
But one caused Haman to furrow his brow.

For there was one person, a defiant old Jew
Who did not comply with what he was told to do.

And one could imagine Haman’s great frown
When the Jew Moredchai refused to bow down.

It is only from Haman’s irrational greed
Which allowed God’s ultimate plan to proceed.

For this one simple act of Jewish defiance
Led Esther and Ahashveirosh to form their alliance.

And at the end of the day the Jews won their war,
But come back tonight, if you’d like to hear more.

The point for the moment, or such is my pshat
Is to love what we have more than what we have not.

For we all have our wants, our needs, and desires.
But it’s what we don’t get which turns us into criers

And we become so obsessed to fulfill all our needs
That it perverts our hearts, our thoughts, and our deeds.

For what else could turn Haman – once next to the crown
To be reduced to some guy, just a hanging around.

So one message for Purim, for how we should live,
Is measured in mitzvot that require us to give.

Mishloach manaot – the baskets of food,
Which we send to our neighbors so as not be rude.

And matanot le’evyonim – the gifts to the poor
For if greed is our sickness, tzedakkah is our cure.

But we now lack the time to discuss every layer,
So we’ll turn to page 500 for the Shabbat Mussaf prayer.

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