Tzemach Yehudah Richter
Tzemach Yehudah Richter

Cracking The ‘Megillat Esther Code’ From A Former US Army ‘Morse Code’ Interceptor


In a previous Blog, I mentioned I spent many months at Fort Devens, MA, training as a Morse Code Interceptor as part of my Basic Training with the US Army Reserves. Upon my return to Minnesota, the Commanding Officer of the Intelligence Unit to which I was assigned, demanded that I attend four-hour drills on Shabbat. I immediately refused which resulted in my transfer to another unit and a new job assignment as an office clerk.

I was just gaining confidence at that time to declare to the world that I was a Jew, and very proud of it, by wearing my kippa in public. But to me, the most important aspect of becoming religious at that time was to keep Shabbat.  It took a great deal of effort to get to that point in my life. Especially since I had no formal education about keeping Shabbat. No Commanding Officer was going to get in my way of keeping Shabbat, and I was not afraid of any punishment he wanted to give by refusing his orders.

Discovering The Three Prayers All Jewish Men Must Say Daily – Shacharit, Mincha, Maariv

I was aware of these prayers but never felt compelled to say them. In a previous Blog I describe a time when I was in Minneapolis Talmud Torah class during break and was asked by one of the men in the adjoining Shul to help make up the Mincha minyan. We were never taught how to daven in Talmud Torah class as far as I can recall. Sadly, my invitation and experience in the actual adjoining Shul was the only way I received training on how to daven and what it meant davening with a minyan.

Fast Forward To Today                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     My “Black Boxes”

Since I was young, I always wondered why the Black Boxes every airplane is required to have on board are not painted that color.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They are defined as follows by which is powered by Oxford-

A flight recorder in an aircraft.

‘The aircraft’s black boxes could also hold the key to the accident.’


 A complex system or device whose internal workings are hidden or not readily understood.

 flight recorder is an electronic recording device placed in an aircraft for the purpose of facilitating the investigation of aviation accidents and incidents. Flight recorders are also known by the misnomer black box—they are, in fact, painted bright orange in color to aid in their recovery after accidents.

For Jews, Tefillin Are In Reality Genuine “Black Boxes”

Look again at the definition of the airplane Black Box and it says its “internal workings are hidden and not really understood”.

That defines our tefillin exactly. When we put them on for Shacharit, we are putting on two black boxes which also have hidden internal workings. Those internal workings are parchments which must be perfectly written to be considered kosher. If one letter is missing or damaged in any way, many times it has been found to be the cause of challenges which the owner experiences until the tefillin are checked and fixed by a qualified scribe.

I was not a regular tefillin wearer until I began my studies in Crown Heights and realized the importance of wearing and davening with Tefillin every day, except, of course, Shabbat. Since that time Tefillin and davening Shacharit have  become a regular part of my morning routine.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 And that plays a big part in gaining confidence to look deeper into Megillat Esther to find hidden meaning hiding in the events recorded therein.

Decoding Megillat Esther

I have read many books and sources describing and analyzing Megillat Esther, but every year I seem to be drawn to the one source which is most likely the oldest and one of the most simply written English commentaries available on Megillat Esther.

The book I am referring to is entitled The Megillah – The Book Of Esther. The publisher is ArtScroll Studio Press. Its authors are Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz who is credited with its translation and compilation. Rabbi Nosson Scherman wrote an extensive overview in the book’s introduction.

The version we have in our home is dated in 1976. And because of copyright restrictions I will not directly quote from the book. Instead, I will refer to page xxxv of the introduction which, in a nutshell, tells us that the time of open miracles such as the splitting of the sea ended with Esther and Mordechai.

And then the author explains that G-d’s name does not appear anywhere in this Megillah, but he has given us enough tools to find truth and G-d’s hand in everyday events.

Replacing Morse Code With The Megillat Esther Code

Many things have happened to my immediate family here in Israel that I am convinced would not have taken place if we did not live here.  By using Megillat Esther as a tool to further discover hidden messages as promised by the authors, I am willing to give it a try.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         For the next few Blogs, I am going to be taking a deeper look into Megillat Esther and attempt to come up with unique stories which tie in with my extended Jewish family (world Jewry). And will also include all friends of Israel wherever and whoever they may be.

 Perhaps This Is My Reward For Standing Up To My Commanding Officer Nearly 50 Years Ago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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