Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Two Merry-Makers

What is the merry making on Purim all about anyway?

Perhaps one answer is contained in the following story:

On ta’anis 23 we find that Rabi Beroka Choza’ah was once in the market of Bei Lefet when he met Eliyahu Hanavi. He asked Eliyahu Hanavi, “Are there any bnei Olam Habah in this marketplace?”

Eliyahu Hanavi answered, “No.” Just then, two people arrived, and Eliyahu Hanavi changed his answer. Indicating the newcomers, he declared, “These two are bnei Olam Habah.”

Rabi Beroka Choza’ah asked the two men what they do and they responded that they are merry-makers who cheer people up. “And when we see two people fighting, we make peace between them,” they said.

Someone once asked the Vilna Gaon, zt”l, a question about this aggadata. “What is so significant about cheering people up and making peace between people when there is conflict? They seem to be relatively minor accomplishments. Why should they earn these men the title of bnei Olam Habah, indicating that they deserve the greatest reward possible? People work hard to get to this level, toiling for years! Only the greatest bnei aliyah reach this awesome level. What really put the two jesters of Bei Lefet in this category?”

The Vilna Gaon responded, “This is not simply a case where their joking and jesting brought them to such a lofty level. These two had already achieved a very high level of emunah and bitachon, and it was this that caused them to feel happy at all times, no matter what the circumstances might be. They were so filled with faith in Hashem Yisborach that they literally felt no worries whatsoever. It was this quality that made them so joyful that their happiness was contagious. Their bitachon was so palpable that they could even uplift the hearts of people whose worries were rooted in a lack of trust in Hashem!”

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