1. This gathering of Jewish children serves as a preparation to the days of Purim, and therefore the subjects to be discussed and emphasized must be those that are a preparation to Purim. For when the preparation is done correctly, the festival of Purim is celebrated correctly — and leaves an impression on the rest of the year.

This concept is found in Megillas Esther: The preparation and service of the Jews then in the days preceding Purim were instrumental in the victory and annulment of Haman’s decree. Indeed, the Megillah states that “it was turned about” — that instead of Haman being victorious, the Jews were successful to the extent that “for the Jews there was light and joy, gladness and honor.” This then had an effect on the whole year, making it a year of “light and joy, gladness and honor.”

Likewise in regard to Purim every year, when “these days are remembered and kept.” When its preparations are done properly, then it is celebrated properly; and the greater the preparations, the greater the “light and joy” of Purim. Then the effect of Purim extends to the whole year, making it a year of “light and joy, gladness and honor.”

The preparations made by the Jews then, which was the cause of the victory of Purim, is especially associated with Jewish children. Our Sages tell us that when the Jews had to do something to defeat Haman’s decree, Mordechai gathered thousands of Jewish children to pray to G‑d and to learn Torah together. This was instrumental in abolishing the decree — “then G‑d took those papers that He decreed on them ... and tore them up” (Esther Rabbah 9:4).

Not only was the decree thus abolished, but “it was turned about,” to the extent that the Jews had “light and joy, gladness and honor.” Moreover, the joy of Purim is greater than the joy of the other festivals (Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos), which are within limits. As our Sages said: “A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between ‘blessed is Mordechai’ and ‘cursed is Haman’“ — a joy that transcends all limits. From this we see the greatness of Jewish children, and their special mission — that through their prayers and Torah study the miracle of Purim came about.

“These days are remembered and kept” — as it was in “those days” so it is in “our time” every year. When Jewish children conduct themselves as the children in Mordechai and Esther’s time — praying to G‑d and learning Torah — and, consonant with the dictum of “one rises in holy matters,” to increase in all preparations of Purim — then the festival of Purim is celebrated with the greatest of joy, that joy extending to the whole year.

2. Purim in general has a special association with Tzivos Hashem, G‑d’s army. The task of Tzivos Hashem is to achieve victory over the Yetzer (Evil Inclination), meaning to disregard its machinations and to follow the directives of G‑d, the “Commander-In-Chief” of Tzivos Hashem. This idea is emphasized in Megillas Esther. The central point in the Jews’ conduct that served as a preparation to the miracle of Purim was that “Mordechai did not bow or prostrate himself” (before Haman). Despite Jews being a small people in the midst of a mighty nation, they all knew that in matters of Judaism their conduct must not be to “bow or prostrate” — but to remain unaffected by the Yetzer’s efforts to sully their conduct.

In regard to Jewish children, examples of this are the Yetzer’s efforts to persuade them to eat candy when they do not know for sure if it is kosher; or his efforts to persuade Jewish children that playing ball is more important than reciting Torah verses. But despite these attempts, every Jewish child must conduct himself such that he does not “how or prostrate himself”: he does not bow to the Yetzer, and surely not prostrate himself full length. Instead, he stands upright, strongly, to learn Torah diligently and to fulfill mitzvos properly — knowing that these are the most important and precious things in the world. In addition, a Jewish child influences his friends (and a girl her friends) in school and environment that they also should not bow or prostrate themselves. This is the idea of “You shall love your fellow as yourself — which is a great principle in the Torah.” Victory against the Yetzer, for oneself and one’s friends in the mode of not bowing or prostrating oneself, is the general goal and task of Tzivos Hashem.

The strength of Jewish children in this battle is that each one is a soldier in Tzivos Hashem. Since G‑d is the Commander-In-Chief of this army, He is together with each soldier of Tzivos Hashem — and hence victory is easy. This too is found in the story of Purim, where it is related that Esther told Mordechai “Go, gather together all the Jews who are to be found in Shushan.” Shushan was the capital city of King Achashverosh. Our Sages have explained that Achashverosh refers to G‑d, Achashverosh in Hebrew meaning “the end and beginning is His. Hence “Shushan” refers to the capital city of G‑d. Since each Jewish child is a soldier in Tzivos Hashem, and wherever he is to be found G‑d is with him, it follows that wherever a Jewish child may be, it is “Shushan,” the capital city of G‑d.

This is the meaning of the verse “Go, gather together all the Jews who are to be found in Shushan.” The task of every Jewish child (and adult) is to effect that “all the Jews” (all those he can influence) should be found in “Shushan the capital.” That is, they should belong to Tzivos Hashem, and hence wherever they may be, will be the capital city of G‑d (since, as explained above, G‑d is found wherever a soldier of Tzivos Hashem is). Then each soldier has the ability to defeat the Yetzer, and to influence his friends to join Tzivos Hashem and do likewise — to the extent that each child has the ability to affect the whole world. This is consonant with the verse said previously that “In the beginning G‑d — created the heavens and the earth” — G‑d created and is Master of the whole world, and has chosen each Jewish child to be a soldier in His army, to spread the light of Judaism, Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvos in the whole world.

Through the proper preparation to Purim as discussed above, may you (together with your parents, teachers and counselors) merit to celebrate Purim with the greatest of joy. Then the entire year will be one of “light and joy, gladness and honor,” illuminated with the light of Torah and mitzvos. Then from the redemption of Purim we go to the redemption of Pesach, including the final redemption, as our Sages have said “In Nissan they were redeemed and in Nissan they are destined to be redeemed in the future” — the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach, when “like the days of your going out from Egypt I will show you wonders.”


3. There is another point in the preparations for Purim. Besides learning the laws of Purim and praying to G‑d for success in one’s preparations, the Megillah tells us that these preparations should be similar to those expressed in Esther’s statement to Mordechai to “Go, gather together all Jews who are to be found in Shushan” — to unite together all Jews. Notwithstanding that the Jews in Shushan were divided into different categories (the twelve tribes etc.), they united together, and in each one the concept of a Jew was emphasized — “denial of idolatry and acknowledgement of the entire Torah.” And as recorded in the Megillah, despite being “scattered and dispersed among the peoples,” Jews are “one people,” unified by the “one Torah;” and wherever they may be found “their laws are different from all people.”

When a Jewish child eats food, he is not as non-Jewish children, but first ascertains if the food is kosher. In general, his conduct is different than theirs, for in every matter he conducts himself according to the Torah’s directives. As stated in the Torah: “You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise.” A Jewish child learns Torah at every opportunity, even when “walking on the road”: when going someplace he takes with a holy book to learn on the way; and certainly when sitting at home, even after learning Torah in school, he continues to learn. Furthermore, he influences friends to do likewise by being a living example to them.

The unity of Jews (“Go, gather together all the Jews”) was the proper preparation to Purim through which Haman’s decree was abolished. This teaches us that every year the preparation to Purim should be in the same manner, uniting all Jews through the “one Torah.” This produces “light and joy” for Jews, that even in the last days of exile Jews have light, the preparation to the true “light” of the future redemption. And likewise Jews have joy in exile, for G‑d gives them blessings for all their needs so that they can conduct themselves as true Jews, which is the preparation to the joy of the future redemption.

Unity of Jews is also emphasized in the daily portion of the weekly parshah, the first section of parshas Ki Sissa: “When you take the sum of the children of Israel.” The census of the Jewish people emphasizes their unity, for, disregarding their individual greatnesses or weaknesses, each one is numbered equally, each one counting for no more and no less than one. As we see when assembling a “Minyan,” a quorum of Jews, ten have to be present; and despite their individual qualities, some greater and some lesser, each individual can only count for one.

The equality of Jews in a census is especially stressed in Tzivos Hashem, the “legions of the King.” The census of the tribe of Levi, who were the “legions of the King,” was of all males “from the age of one month and older.” A month old child was counted as an equal to Aharon the Kohen Gadol, each individual counting only for one! And the Rambam writes that “not only the tribe of Levi, but every person ... whose spirit moves him ... to stand before G‑d and to serve Him ... G‑d will be his portion and his inheritance.” Every Jew, child and adult, who dedicates himself to serve G‑d, to study Torah and perform mitzvos — which is the task of Tzivos Hashem — belongs to the “legions of the King.” A Jewish child is counted as part of Tzivos Hashem, the “legions of the King,” as soon as he or she is born. So great is the strength of every Jewish child. Thus, when a Jewish child decides to serve G‑d as is fitting, he becomes a true Jew — denying idolatry and acknowledging the whole Torah — and conducts himself so during his entire lifetime.

Completion of Sefer Torah in California

Unity of Jews is further stressed when each one purchases a letter in one of the general Sefer Torahs. This has particular emphasis today, when one of the Sefer Torahs written for all Jewry (that written in California) is being completed. Although it is being finished today in California, and we are in New York, we are all united as “one people” through the “one Torah.” Thus the joy of the Jews in California is also our joy and the joy of all the Jewish people in all corners of the earth. This joy is not just on earth, but also in heaven: G‑d, and the angels, when they see Jews, man and child, uniting as one people through the one Torah, also rejoice.

In the light of the above, it is understood that the central theme of Purim is unity of Jews through the unity of Torah. Through this we merit to go to our Holy Land given by G‑d to all Jews in all generations. In these three things: the whole people, the whole Torah, and the whole land, Jews stand such that they do not “bow or prostrate themselves”: they are not affected by the inner non-Jewishness, nor by the non-Jewishness of others, and certainly not by non-Jews themselves.

Besides Purim being connected with the above three things, it is also associated with the building of the Bais Hamikdosh. It is related in Scripture that “at the beginning of the reign of Achashverosh, they [enemies of the Jews] wrote [to him] evil about the inhabitants of Yehudah and Yerushalayim”; and as Rashi explains, they wrote to him not to allow the Jews to build the Bais Hamikdosh. As a result of their intrigue, the king commanded to temporarily halt the construction. Nevertheless, Mordechai was not impressed and did not let it affect him, and studied the laws associated with the Bais Hamikdosh with his disciples. He was sure the evil decrees would be abolished, and the building of the second Bais Hamikdosh would be completed.

So too in our days: When Jewish children learn Torah and conduct themselves according to the Torah’s directives, they hasten the coming of Moshiach “who will build the Bais Hamikdosh in its place” — the third Bais Hamikdosh in all its fullness. Then the time of exile will be finished, and the redemption will have begun — the ingathering of the dispersed of Israel.