Tefillah Tips - Shoshanat Yaakov

At the conclusion of the Megillah reading both at night and in the morning we say a prayer called “Shoshanat Yaakov” – “The Rose of Jacob”. This small paragraph is a blunt prayer reiterating the conclusion of Megillat Esther as well as restating the “heroes and villains” of the Purim story.

As you would expect, the prayer refers to Mordechai the righteous and Haman the wicked as well as Esther the heroine and Vashti the evil. The final phrase mentions a less famous character in the Purim story-Charvona. “And Charvona should be remembered for the good.”

Who was this fellow Charvona????

In chapter7- verse 9- is the point in the story when Haman’s world comes crashing down to the ground. King Achashverosh was exploding with a raging anger against the evil Haman for a variety of reasons. Firstly Esther openly accuses Haman of attempting to destroy her people, the people of Israel, next- Haman is seen lying on the sofa too close to Esther,… and right at this telling moment good old Charvona chimes in and says, “ and Haman built a gallows to hang your trustworthy servant Mordechai”. It was the final straw. Achashverosh immediately ordered the execution of Haman.

What a great story!! But who is Charvona??

The Ibn Ezra comments on the verse and explains that Charvona may have been Eliyahu Hanavi- the man who always comes to our rescue whenever we need him. He comes to every Brit and every Seder table.

The question we must deal with is why does he appear as a common soldier in the royal court? What is this coming to teach us?

Perhaps the lesson here is that G-d has many messengers that he sends to us on a regular basis. The problem is our antennas aren’t up to recognizing them. Everybody thought that Charvona was just another Persian infantryman; but he was Eliyahu Hanavi.

This lesson is very fitting for the holiday of Purim, which is characterized as a holiday of “covered” miracles. The miracles in the Purim story are only recognizable to the reader who has his antennas finely tuned. In fact, it is intriguing that in the entire Megillat Esther G-d’s name is not mentioned even once! An entire book of the Bible without a mention of G-d’s name! It must be coming to tell us something. It’s describing the character of Purim and what we should gain from it. We need to keep our eyes open for all of the Charvonas out there and “listen to our messages” no matter what frequency they are on.

Our goal should be to extract a little bit of the electricity of Purim and ignite the rest of the year with it.