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Purim: Reverse Inheritance

Tradition teaches that Mordechai was a descendant of King Shaul, who lived centuries earlier and was the first king of Beneh Yisrael. As we read in the Book of Shemuel I (15), King Shaul had the kingship taken from him and his family because he disobeyed G-d’s command with regard to the nation of Amalek. The prophet, Shemuel, conveyed to Shaul G-d’s command that he lead a battle against the evil nation of Amalek, leaving no member of Amalek alive. Shaul mobilized an army and went out to war, but, violating the prophet’s instructions, the soldiers brought back Amalek’s cattle as spoils of war, and they also brought back the king of Amalek, Aggag, as a captive of war. For disobeying G-d’s command, Shaul forfeited the right to the kingship, and it was transferred to David.

Rav Moshe Alshich (1508-1593) comments that Mordechai, Shaul’s descendant, achieved a "Tikkun" ("rectification") of his ancestor’s mistake by leading the Jews to victory over Aggag’s descendant – Haman, and his followers. By waging this battle, and killing the Jews’ foes, Mordechai rectified the mistake made by Shaul. This explains why, as the Megilla emphasizes on several occasions, the Jews did not take any spoils after defeating their enemies – "U’ba’biza Lo Shalehu Et Yadam." As this battle served to correct the mistake made by Shaul, they abstained from the spoils – to atone for Beneh Yisrael’s having taken spoils after their battle against Amalek led by King Shaul. Indeed, the first letters of the words "U’ba’biza Lo Shalehu Et" are the letters that form the name "Shaul," alluding to the fact that it was because of Shaul that the Jews abstained from the spoils.

This is also the reason why Mordechai was appointed second-in-command of the Persian Empire after Haman’s downfall. Shaul forfeited rights to the kingship for failing to eradicate Amalek, and so once Mordechai rectified this mistake, royalty could now return to Shaul’s family.

After the sin of the golden calf, in response to Moshe’s pleas on behalf of Beneh Yisrael, G-d pronounced what is known as the "thirteen attributes of mercy." In this context, G-d said also that He is "Poked Avon Abot Al Banim Ve’al Beneh Banim" – that G-d remembers a person’s sins for future generations, with regard to his descendants. At first glance, this hardly sounds like an attribute of mercy. How is it merciful that G-d punishes people for their ancestors’ sins? The explanation is that G-d allows us the opportunity to have our sins atoned through the good deeds performed by our descendants. When a person leaves this world, it appears as though he no longer has any possibility of atoning for the wrongs he had committed during his lifetime. But this is not true. G-d, in His infinite mercy, allows these sins to be rectified through the Misvot performed by the deceased’s children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all future generations. This is, indeed, a remarkable attribute of kindness.

We might call this process "reverse inheritance." Normally, we think of a deceased parent as bequeathing assets to his offspring. But in truth, the offspring also "bequeath" to the deceased. The Misvot they perform are "deposited" into the deceased’s heavenly "account," enabling him to avoid punishment and earn reward, even many years after he departed from this world.

By working to raise our children along the path of Torah and Misvot, we prepare them and all their future offspring for a life of religious devotion, and also lay the groundwork for our own "Tikkun," our own atonement, for all eternity.

Parashat Behaalotecha- Rectification is Always Possible
Parashat Naso- Emuna First
Shavuot- Celebrating the Eternal Torah
Shavuot- The Challenge – and Rewards – of Torah Commitment
Parashat Behar- Experiencing the Sweetness and Delight of Torah
Parashat Emor- Keter Shem Tob 'The Crown of Good Reputation'
Parashat Ahare Mot- Planting Our Spiritual Trees
Parashat Shemini- Respect and Reverence in the Synagogue
Pesah: Redemption Then and Now
Pesah- Its A Mirage
Parashat Vayikra- The Triple Sin of Dishonesty
Parashat Pekudeh- Counting the Things That Matter
Parashat Ki Tisa- The Sanctity of Every Jew
Purim and the Sale of Yosef
Parashat Terumah- The Torah’s “Footsteps”
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