Yesterday, the 7th of Adar – Sunday the 9th, I attended a Full Morning of Learning, at Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue. What could be more appropriate on Moshe Rabbeinu‘s yohrtzeit than to honor him with communal learning?
There were fifteen lectures mostly (though not exclusively) dealing with Purim and Megillas Esther divided into three one hour sessions. There was plenty of choice for all levels, for all tastes. For the first period I attended a lecture by Rabbi Eli Mansour from the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in Brooklyn
Rabbi Mansour’s topic The Secret of Megillat Esther concerned the mistake Haman made when he thought the month of Adar would be a perfect time to annihilate the Jewish people. Rav Mansour quoted sources from R. Yonatan Eybischutz‘s writings, the Zohar and the Talmud, which aptly described Haman’s misunderstanding of the lots he cast before deciding which month would be best for the success of his nefarious intent.
Next I listened to Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky, from Shapell’s Darche Noam Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael.
His spoke about Jewish Humor: Not a Laughing Matter. What makes a joke uniquely Jewish? Why is it, if you substitute another ethnic or religious group for the Jews the joke – at best – has diminished its impact or becomes totally unfunny? He also brought down various sources from the Talmud, Midrash and more. An example of a joke that only works fully if you understand the Jewish psyche and would barely cause a smile if the characters were not Jewish, goes as follows:
On the day of the Eastern Seaboard blackout in 2003, Max changes a light bulb. Sally, his wife is looking out the window and as soon he screws in the new bulb, she’s is appalled to see all the lights in the neighborhood go off; in dismay she cries out:
Max, what you done?!?!?
My last session was with Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rosh Yeshiva at Baltimore’s Ner Yisroel Yeshiva.
He spoke on Favorite Lessons from Megillat Esther. Rav Frand stressed the importance of Megillat Esther in our time and in our values, the importance of an individual reaching out of his/her comfort zone to achieve one’s full potential.
All in all, it was a very interesting morning filled with inspiring and thought provoking lectures.