Worry is the emotional distress that one causes oneself by thinking about something distressful that might happen at some future moment. The thoughts you think in the present create your present feelings. When the thoughts on your mind are pleasant or joyful thoughts, your entire inner system reacts accordingly. Your breathing rate changes, your brain waves change, your blood pressure change, your energy level changes, your hormones change, you heart beat changes, your immune system changes, your muscle tension changes, your facial expression and posture change, and your tone of voice changes. All these change counterproductively when you needlessly cause yourself anxiety by thinking worrisome thoughts. These changes happen instantly.
Now in your inner mind, tell yourself, "Every time I begin to worry, I will immediately think of something to be grateful for." Repeat this enough times until you feel that your inner mind will automatically go into gratitude mode as soon as it's aware that it's in worry mode.
Love Yehuda Lave
Tomb of Mordechai and Esther in Hamedan, Iran.
Information on the Thursday Fast of Esther
The Fast of Esther is a dawn-to-nightfall fast held on the day before the jolly holiday of Purim. It commemorates the fasting of our ancestors in response to the dramatic chain of events that occurred during their exile in the Persian empire. These events are recorded in the Book of Esther, and the salvation that came about at that time is celebrated on the holiday of Purim. (Click hereto find out what times the Fast of Esther starts and ends in your location.)
This year the Fast of Esther is held on March 9, 2017, and Purim is celebrated from the evening of March 11 through March 12 (March 12-13 in Jerusalem). While the fast is generally celebrated on the day before Purim, when Purim is on Sunday, the fast is moved from Shabbat to the preceding Thursday.1
The Fast of Esther, or Ta'anit Esther, is not one of the four public fasts that was ordained by the prophets. Consequently, we are more lenient in its observance, particularly when it comes to pregnant women, nursing mothers and others who are weak.2
Fasting is associated with some pivotal moments in the Purim narrative. One such moment is when Esther approached King Ahasuerus without permission in an effort to intercede on behalf of the Jewish people. Before she went to the king, she fasted for three days, and asked that all the Jews fast as well.
Another dramatic turnaround occurred on Adar 13 (the default date for the Fast of Esther), the date that Haman had set aside for killing the Jews. Instead the Jewish people soundly trounced their enemies. This triumph was accomplished while the Jews were fasting, as they prayed to G‑d that they be successful.3
Click here for more on why this fast is named for Esther.
As on other fast days, we make the following changes to the daily prayer routine:
● During the morning prayers we recite selichot (penitential prayers), which are printed in the back of the prayerbook. The "long Avinu Malkeinu" is recited during the morning prayers (and the afternoon prayers, if the fast is not on the day before Purim) .
● The Torah is read during the morning and afternoon prayers. The reading—the same for both morning and afternoon—is Exodus 32:11–14 and 34:1–10, which discusses the aftermath of the Golden Calf incident, how Moses successfully interceded on the Israelites' behalf and obtained forgiveness for their sin. After the afternoon Torah reading, the special fast-day haftarah, Isaiah 55:6–56:8, is read.
● During the Amidah prayer of the afternoon service (Minchah), those who are fasting add the paragraph Aneinu in the ShemaKoleinu blessing. (It is also added in the cantor's repetition of the Amidah in both the morning and afternoon services as its own blessing between the blessings of Re'eh and Refa'einu.) Additionally, the priestly blessing is added in the repetition of the Amidah in the afternoon service.
● If the fast is on the day before Purim, we do not say Tachanun(prayers of supplication) or Avinu Malkeinu at Minchah, since the joy of the holiday is already upon us.
In commemoration of the half-shekel contributed by each Jew to the Holy Temple—which the Talmud says counteracted the 10,000 silver talents Haman gave to King Ahasuerus to obtain the royal decree calling for the extermination of the Jewish people—it is customary to give three coins in "half" denominations (e.g., half-dollar coins) to charity on the afternoon of the Fast of Esther before Minchah. The three half-dollars given for every member of the family commemorate the three contributions the Jews gave for the building of the Tabernacle and for its sacrifices.
In many synagogues, plates are set out with silver half-dollars so that all can purchase them to use in observance of this custom.
If you didn't manage to give machatzit hashekel before Minchah, you can do so afterwards, or before the Megillah reading on Purim night or morning.
Click here to learn more about machatzit hashekel.
Onward to Purim
Now that we've got the Fast of Esther settled, let's focus on Purim, the joyous holiday that comes next.
If you're looking for the basics, we suggest you start with What Is Purim?
You can then check out the How-to Guide to learn more about the day's four special observances.
Since a big part of Purim is reading the Megillah (Book of Esther), you may want print one out so you can follow along with the reader.
And in case you've been invited to a Purim celebration, you can prep with our What to Expect page.
President Donald Trump reduced the US Debt burden in his first month in office!
On January 20th, the day of the Trump Inauguration, the US Debt stood at $19,947 billion. On February 21st, a month later, the US Debt load stood at $19,935 billion. Trump cut the US Debt burden by $12 billion and 0.1% in his first month in office!
On January 20, 2017, the US debt was $19,947 billion. On February 21, 2017, the US debt was $19,935 billion.
By comparison, under President Obama, the US Debt burden increased by more than $200 billion in his first month in office. Obama increased the US Debt by 2% in his first month and signed the trillion dollar 'Stimulus' bill which is widely considered a colossal failure and waste of US tax dollars as well. The failed 'Stimulus' did not kick in till later in Obama's first year leading to Obama's first year deficit of $1.4 trillion. Overall Obama doubled the US Debt during his Presidency and set records for highest deficits and the largest debt increase by any President ever.
With Trump the stock market is up and debt is down – Winning, Winning, Winning!
Judicious Jurisprudence; Crushing Corruption The Wonders of the Holy Tongue for P. Mishpatim
Keep far from a false matter; and do not slay the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked (Exodus 23:7).
The root צדקis one of the most oft-repeated roots in the Tanach. New insights into the word appear however, upon examination of the underlying biliteral word דק dalet-koof, as follows.
The verb דק itself in the Tanach means grinding, pulverizing (see e.g. Micah 4:13 and Dan. 7:23 + Metz. David).
Dakarדקר means stabbing, piercing, splitting (see Isa. 13:15, Jer. 51:4 + Metz. Zion, Lam. 4:9 + Rashi).
Chedekחדק is a thorn, an object that pierces and stabs (see Micah 7:4, Prov. 15:19 + Metz. Zion).
Sedekסדק is actually an Aramaic word, but one which is commonplace as a Hebrew word already in the Mishna. The word means a crack, crevice, as well as ripping (See Targumim to Lev. 11:3, I Kings 11:30).
Bedekבדק in the Tanach bears the same meaning asסדק , vis. crack, crevice (see II Kings 12:6 +Rashi, Ez. 27:27 + Metz. Zion, II Chron. 34:10 + Rashi).
Tzedekצדק is the root under discussion which appears in our weekly portion. All of the meanings of the previous words listed (grinding, pulverizing, stabbing, piercing, splitting, ripping as well as cracks and crevices) point to a common core meaning: an entity or affair which is lacking in wholeness (at least by the time you're done with it!).
The connection with צדק in the sense of court proceedings is as follows. The Torah commands our judges: "justice, justice pursue" (Deut. 16:20). The Talmud (San. 32b) explains that this a requirement to execute wearying cross-examinations as well as intensive interrogations of witnesses separately in cases where there is reason to suspect fraud. This procedure, known as דרישה וחקירה, is designed to poke holes in questionable stories, to grind down dishonest witnesses until they admit their lies, to find cracks and inconsistencies between the respective witnesses' accounts, to separate fact from fiction, and to leave the slander and lies as apulverized pile of dust.
Likewise, the private צדיק earns this august title by judging not others – but his own actions and potential actions. He examines his own motives and excuses, his actions and his failure to act – all with an eye to crush his own hidden negative side, the dictates of his evil inclination.
May we be counted amongst the ranks of the צדיקים who constantly strive to improve themselves and leave the world a better place than they found it. And may we merit to see the coming of משיח צדקינו –the Messiah of Righteousness, as Isaiah (1:27)pronounces:
Zion shall be redeemed through justice and her penitent through righteousness.
May this prophesy be fulfilled speedily in our times, amen!