Today’s learning is dedicated to the refuah sheleima of Simcha Nosson ben Zissel.
Haman corresponds to idol worship, as our Sages taught, “Haman made himself an object of worship” (Megillah 10b). This is why the lottery he cast was in the month Moshe died (Megillah 13b). For Moshe is the one who counters idolatry… But Mordechai and Esther had the power to counter Haman’s idolatry. This is why in their day, the Jews received the Torah anew. As our Sages taught, “[The Jews] fulfilled that which they had previously taken upon themselves.” (Shabbat 88a) — Lekutey Moharan I, 10:8
Purim is preparation for Pesach. Through the mitzvah of Purim we are protected from chametz on Pesach. — Lekutey Moharan II, 74
Megillahs Esther recounts the events that led to the Jewish people’s salvation in the times of Mordechai and Esther. The Megillah begins by describing Achashverosh’s incredible wealth and details the grand banquet he prepared. The Sages explain that Achashverosh and his people were under the impression that Hashem had forsaken the Jewish people, something they wished to celebrate.
The future seemed dark for the Jewish people. Haman, may his name be blotted out, thought that it was the opportune time to bring an end the Jewish nation.
Clearly, Achashverosh and Haman didn’t learn Rebbe Nachman’s teachings…
Haman’s first order was to annihilate the Jews. Yet surprisingly, the Talmud reveals that when Achashverosh gave over his ring to Haman (signifying his new role as viceroy), it did more for the Jewish people than all the prophets…
The Ksav Sofer explains that it was this moment that caused the Jewish people to turn back to Hashem for help and mercy, which ultimately led to their salvation. Despite all appearances, Haman’s rising to power was the best thing for the Jewish people.
The name “Megillahs Esther” alludes to the ultimate revelation. Megillah connotes “Megallah” (to reveal), and Esther connotes “Aster” (hidden). Similarly, Hashem’s name is not mentioned in the Megillah, hinting to His hidden presence. Purim is a time to witness Divine Providence.
The story of Purim is the prime example of never losing hope. The story is filled with twists and turns, but at the very end, with the benefit of looking back, we see how everything had purpose and meaning. Everything was for the benefit of the Jewish people.
At times, it can be difficult to make sense of this world. But from the story of Purim, we see that Hashem always has our best interest in mind, even if it may be difficult to see in the moment.
As a descendant of Amalek, Haman represents darkness and sadness. The Megillah tells how Haman had everything he could dream of, but one man, Mordechai, would not bow down to him. (Our Sages explain that Haman wore an idol at the time and Mordechai would not succumb to his falsehoods.) Haman fixated on this until his ego and pride led to his demise. Similarly, he wants us to view our difficult moments as never ending and all encompassing.
On Purim, we conquer Haman. We eat and drink, we sing and dance. We are determined to stay positive and happy. In this way, Purim prepares us for Pesach, as it removes the “chametz” from our lives.
Rebbe Nachman points out that in the Jewish calendar, the night is the beginning of the day. Night represents darkness, sadness and confusion. Day represents light, happiness and clarity. We must always remember that the darker it gets outside, the closer the light approaches.
Rabbi Maimon points out how the person reading Megillah begins reading in a lower voice, but changes his tone after “On that night, the king’s sleep was disturbed…” At that point, Achashverosh reads from the book of chronicles and remembers how Mordechai previously saved his life. It was specifically at nighttime that this pivotal moment took place. In this moment, everything changed.
Lastly, it’s important to note that Haman attacked us when we were, “dispersed among the peoples.” We lacked unity. Therefore Esther said, “Go assemble all the Jews” to fast and pray. She knew the salvation required a united front.
We wear costumes to commemorate the hidden miracle of Purim. But it also serves another purpose. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained, “On Purim you see many people dressed in different costumes, one is a clown, one is an animal, and one you don’t even know what he’s wearing. Do you get angry or upset with them? No, because you know it’s just a costume. In life, we meet many people. One is impatient, one is angry, one is apathetic… This is not who they really are. This is just a “costume.” Deep in their heart, they are all warm Jews, full of purity and beauty. We just need to interact with them with kindness and tenderness and take off their “costumes” to reveal the pure soul inside each one.”
Rabbi Moshe Bamberger relates, “The concept of unity was so precious to the Klausenberger Rebbe, that when describing the terrors that he faced in the Holocaust, he related that there was one thing he actually missed from those years: ‘When we went on the death march, we were all clean shaven and our hair was shaved off too. We marched side by side, and no one knew if the person next to them was a Chasid or Litvak, and no one knew I was a Rebbe. We all just held our arms around each other and tried to keep ourselves and our fellow Jews warm.’”
The costumes we wear remind us that no matter how we dress, no matter how we may differ, we are all in this together. We are one.
We may face difficult times in life, but when we band together and when we trust in Hashem’s love and Divine Providence, we can rest assured that we will see the light waiting for us at the end this windy tunnel.
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