Ra’anana Community Kollel
Haman and a Pinch of Flour
Rabbi Dovid Horwitz
What do Haman and flour have in common? You would probably answer, Hamentashen! The recipe calls for a good supply of Haman’s ears and a bit of flour and jam. Everybody knows that only a Purim with fresh baked Hamentashen is Purim at its best. By now you’ve probably realized that most Jewish customs hint to certain spiritual depths that might go undetected if not for the probing and creative minds that seek to uncover them. Let’s examine the significance of Haman, his ears, and flour and see what we can come up with.
The Gemara (Megilla 15) explains that when Haman came to find Mordechai in order to give him a little ride him on the King’s horse and parade him around the town, he saw that Mordechai was totally engrossed in teaching Torah to young children. When he finished, Haman asked Mordechai what he had been teaching at that moment. Mordechai responded that he had been describing the laws of the flour offerings that were performed in the Beit Hamikdash when it was standing. Upon hearing these words, Haman retorted, “Indeed! Your little fistful of flour has defeated my ten thousand silver pieces!” (Haman had given King Achashverosh ten thousand silver pieces to allow him to kill all of the Jews.) From here the Sages gleaned that the Mitzvah of bringing the Omer, the first flour offering of the new harvest which was brought on the second day of Pesach, should not be viewed lightly, for it was in the merit of this mitzvah that we were saved from Haman’s decree. The Gemara also tells us that Haman was executed on the second day of Pesach, the same day that the Omer offering was brought. Without a doubt, there seems to be a very deep connection between the flour offering and the downfall of the wicked Haman.
The flour offering of the Omer teaches us more than anything that we must even appreciate the hand of Hashem, which is at work within nature itself. Our Sages illustrated to what lengths a person must toil, prepare and cook just to eat a good portion of meat, yet Hashem brings forth grain from the ground and fruits from the fields and asks nothing of us except a little flour offering as a means of showing our great appreciation. The Omer wakes us up and helps us to realize that nothing in life should be taken for granted and that even the most seemingly natural set of circumstances is in essence a beautifully woven tapestry of Divine providence.
The Purim story of Esther and the Jews and how they were saved from destruction, on a superficial level, also seemed to be nothing more than a natural sequence of events that unfolded in a natural way without the guiding hand of the Creator. However, upon closer examination one begins to see how these extraordinary events were woven and interwoven in a manner far too intricate for mere coincidence. The enchanting way in which every effort that Haman made to destroy the Jews was shot back against him is by far much too humorous and ironic to brush off as just another stroke of good Jewish Mazal. Without question, it was our deep and internal realization that the events of Purim involved hidden but direct Divine intervention in the lives of our ancestors in Shushan HaBirah that served as the vehicle of their reaffirmation of their entire commitment to Judaism. This is what continues to make Purim such a special holiday. The more we continue to grow in our appreciation and gratitude to Hashem for the little things, like flour and water and getting us out of a jam, the more we fortify ourselves as Hashem’s devoted servants and holy nation who will merit to see complete salvation and the total downfall of its enemies.