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Devar Torah

Thursday, 8 March, 2012 - 9:36 pm

As we celebrate Purim it brings to mind memories of Purim by the Rebbe in Lubavitch. In Lubavitch, Purim was different than in most places. There was no Purim shpiel. In other places, Purim is celebrated as a time to simply let yourself go and have fun. By the Rebbe, Purim was a time for deep maamorim, a time for sichos infused with Nigleh and Chassidus. What about the fun and enjoyment that so many consider to be part and parcel of the Purim spirit? Some drink a lot to get to the state of ‘ad delo yada’. Others get very involved in dressing up in costumes. The real mitzvah of drinking on Purim is to reach a state where one cannot tell the difference between ‘baruch Mordechai' and 'arur Haman'.  If a person really reaches that state, isn’t he missing out on all the simcha of Purim because he doesn’t really understand what is happening anyway? How do we then, celebrate Purim?

There is a story about the Tzemach Tzedek who as a child once asked his Zeide, the Alter Rebbe; Why did the gallows that Haman and his sons were hung upon have to be 50 amos high, weren’t 10 amos enough? That Purim the Alter Rebbe explained that there are 50 gates of understanding. Haman realized that in the regular realm of understanding, from 1 until 49 he could not compete against the Jewish people. He knew that even a poshe yisroel-a Jew that sins has more merit than he. Therefore, his strategy was to go beyond all of them and to compete on the level of 50th gate. The 50th gate is incomparable. It is beyond all measure, where levels do not matter. In such a place where there is no calculation, he felt his lack of virtue was not a deficit and therefore he could compete. This is why he threw a ‘pur,’ a lottery which is beyond logic and reason. This is the reason that this Yom Tov is called Purim, a lottery, beyond that which makes sense. When it fell out on the month that he thought (mistakenly) that was in his favor, he took it as a positive sign that he would be successful.

Haman made a fatal error. He did not realize that our connection to Hashem is not just because we are his children, but because Hashem chooses us. He doesn’t just choose us because of the greatness of our neshama which gives us an advantage (which is reflected in any one of the 49 gates), but a choice that is so essential that it even includes our bodies, not just the neshama. This connection is beyond all logic and is Hashem’s preference for us. Actually, Haman picked the worst possible place to compete with the Jewish people, beyond seichel, because that is where we are the strongest. Therefore, Purim represents our essential connection to Hashem beyond reason. Our L’chaim on Purim is to get out of Yada, our understanding, and to get in touch with the essence, that it is Hashem’s choice in us that will make us victorious. On the level of knowing, we see the virtue of Mordechai, that he is baruch,  because he represents the positive, learning the Torah and doing mitzvos.  We are disgusted with Haman because he is arur because he represents the antithesis of the Torah and Yiddishkeit. When we go ‘ad dlo yada,’ beyond knowing, then nothing is based on any preferences that we understand and our one and only motivator is that Hashem wants this. It is this and this alone that motivates us. To reach this we need to make l’chaim, we need to get out of our own calculations, logic and preferences, out of all the 49 levels.

So Purim is not the time to just let go, which is to go below the 49 levels, but rather to go above them. For this we need to have a good chassidishe Purim farbrengen. This is because from within the depth of Chassidus we come to the complete and full realization of this difference. The difference between the 49 and the 50th, and what is really possible on Purim. It is not about costumes rather it is about learning about mesiras nefesh. The Previous Rebbe in 1927, centered the entire farbrengen around this point. The essence, in general, is to give ourselves over as a Yid. We express this on Purim by making l’chaim, going to a farbrengen, by having simcha and sharing it with others in a heartfelt way. We give presents to another Yid, because we see this virtue in each other. This is Purim! A Freilichin Purim.

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