This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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On Purim 1953 the Lubavitch Rebbe was speaking to hundreds of his Chassidim in the large Chabad Synagogue in Brooklyn when he, for no apparent reason changed the subject and announced, “Let us all cheer Hurrah! Hurrah!” and the Rebbe began shouting over and over “Hurrah! Hurrah!”.
His perplexed followers took up the chant until the entire room was rocking from the rhythm of “Hurrah! Hurrah!”.
After several minutes of this, the Rebbe suddenly became silent again and returned to his previous deep line of thought as though nothing had happened. The next day’s newspaper headlines read: ‘Stalin is Dead’. Later the details were revealed. The evil Communist dictator was planning a ‘purge’ of all the Jews in the U.S.S.R but he suffered a sudden heart attack on Purim before just days before he could carry it out. The Rebbe’s ‘Hurrah’ (In Hebrew can be reduced to ‘Hoo Ra’ lit. ‘He is Evil’) did the job.
A similar story is told about the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Lubavitch Rebbe, who, 150 years earlier, through his prayer and reading of the Magilla on Purim contributed greatly to the death of the evil, Anti-Semitic Czar Nicolai on that very day.
This is because Purim is the highest of all the Jewish holidays!
The Medrash tells us that the only holiday that will be really noticed in the in the days of the Moshiach (because of the great G-dly revelations then) will be…. Purim! [Yalkut Shimoni remez 944]
Purim is even holier than Yom HaKippurim! (the day of atonement, usually considered to be the holist day). The Zohar explains that therefore the name ‘Kipurim’ can be interpreted ‘Ki-Purim’…‘almost like Purim’.
Purim is also more potent than Yom Kippur. Before the first Purim (some 2500 years ago) the Jews had publicly bowed down to idols and partaken in the forbidden feast of King Achasverosh; sins that Yom HaKippurim cannot cleanse. But Purim not only erased these sins, it transformed them into a holiday of joy and festivity.
We also find (Talmud Shabbos 88a) that the first time in history that the Torah was actually fulfilled (almost 1,000 years after it was given on Mount Siani) by the Jewish people was….on Purim. Therefore Purim is higher than Shavous (The holiday of the giving of the Torah).
And the joy of Purim exceeds even that of Simchat Torah (considered the happiest holiday of the year); Purim is the only holiday that there is no limit on getting intoxicated and being happy (of course being careful not to transgress any commandment).
To understand why Purim is so high, let us look at what really happened back then.
The Jewish people just before the first Purim (between the 1st and 2nd Temples some 2,300 years ago) were probably in the best political situation ever. The Queen of the world, Esther, (Achashverosh, her husband, ruled the world) was a Jewess! One of the King’s chief advisors (who had recently even saved the kings life!) was Mordechi the Jew. All the Jews got invited to the King’s personal party. There was Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality…PEACE, the Jewish dream!
Suddenly arose to power a man called ‘Haman’ who, with no effort, convinced the King, “To kill, destroy and liquidate all the Jews in one day” for no clear reason!
No Jew was to be spared; there would be nowhere, and not even any time to escape, and no one could possibly save them. In other words, the worst decree that befell the Jews, or any other nation for that matter, in the history of the world!
What was the reaction of the Jews this sudden catastrophe? They didn’t utilize their connections, nor did they take to the streets in protest. The fun-loving Jews that only weeks ago were bowing to idols and enjoying the forbidden feast of King Achashverosh, suddenly realized that the whole business was G-d’s punishment to them for trying to be NORMAL (because every Jew is a representative of the Creator more than he is part of the creation). So they reacted accordingly. They all fasted and prayed for three days non-stop.
What makes the whole thing even more remarkable is that they all could have escaped death by simply… denying their religion! Haman’s decree was to Kill, destroy etc. all the JEWS, and anyone who said, “I’m not Jewish” would have been saved! But amazingly in the twelve months that the sword of destruction hung over their heads (the decree was declared in the month of Nison and was to be implemented twelve months later in Adar) NOT EVEN ONE Jew even THOUGHT of denying Judaism! This is a tremendous soul sacrifice that is unparalleled in the history of man; that an entire nation would all risk death for one full year rather than say a word against their G-d!
And this is what makes Purim so great, even higher than all the other Holidays.
This explains two unusual factors of the Magilla (the scroll we read on Purim): 1) throughout the entire story, the Jews are called only by the name ‘Yehudim’ and not by their usual Biblical names; such as bnei Yisroel etc. And 2) no name of G-d appears even once in the entire book.
The reason for these oddities is that the word ‘Yhudi’ is rooted in the Hebrew term for surrender, “Hoda’a”. On that first Purim, for the first time in history, all the Jews completely surrendered to G-d, and their surrender was so total and genuine, that it touched on a level of G-dliness above all names or titles; the essence of the Jews became one with the essence of G-d.
What does this all mean for us today, how will this improve our Purim a few days from now?
In retrospect we can see that the Miracle of Purim was more a spiritual than a historical one.
It was the battle of the Jewish people against the archenemy of G-d, ‘Amalek’.
It sounds a bit surrealistic but it’s true. The Torah informs us that G-d created a force of ultimate evil and destruction in the world called Amalek. This force, as well as being embodied in a certain nation, (which is recognizable from their burning anti-Semitism i.e. the Nazis, Arafat etc.) is also an aspect of the personality of each and every person, (especially every Jew!). The reason that this Amalek hates the Jews is because he hates G-d (see Rashi on Numbers 10:35) and the Torah informs us that the battle against him will never end (Exodos 17:16) until the arrival of the Moshiach.
The holiday of Purim gives each of us the power to defeat this Amalek within us (the Hebrew letters in the word ‘Amalek’ are the same numerical value as the word for ‘Doubt’, ‘Suffik’) namely to destroy all our doubts about the Goodness and Power of the G-d of Israel, the truth of His Torah, and especially that He will bring the Moshiach immediately.
The way to do it today, to really tap into this power and enjoy Purim just as then, is through connection to the Mordechi of our generation, a Tzaddik like the Lubavitch Rebbe whose job it is to ‘Gather all the Jews’ and bring each and every one of them to realize that he is a ’Yhudi’ a special representative of G-d.
From this connection comes the Happiness and power… and eventual victory over Amalek through our Rightous Moshiach.
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