Thursday, March 17, 2016

Purim Torah by Rav Eliezer Berland shlit"a

Purim - פורים

"Remember what Amalek did to you

On Purim a person needs to restrain himself more than on Yom Kippur, because on Yom Kippur we are in shul for 24 hours, stuck to our seats, but on Purim we have to drink wine and to be happy and to sing and dance, and yet all the while retain our senses and cling to Hashem
   Everyone knows that we are obliged to wipe out Amalek—we have to kill Amalek and annihilate him—but who is Amalek? Amalek is us. Amalek is to be found inside each and every person. As long as Amalek is inside us, nothing will help. Even if we kill Haman, then we’ll get a Sisera, a Titus, a Vespasian, or a Hitler. As long as a person doesn’t pull himself out of p’gam habris and from arrogance, then Haman is still alive. The Satan will just take another form and appear in another person. When Haman was killed, that generation was saved, but with each new generation new Hamans arise.
   Haman is created from sins. Every sin gives birth to a Haman, a terrorist, a Nazi. When a Nazi comes to kill a Jew, a person should say, “I created that Nazi!” “I created that terrorist!” If I will do teshuva that terrorist will be burned up—he’ll disappear. So who is Haman? Who is Amalek? I am Amalek. As long as I am still in this world, as long as I am still alive, there will be no geula until I turn myself around, until I change. Nothing else will help. This is the “na’afoch hu” of Purim—that each person needs to turn himself around from one extreme to the other.
   On Purim, the sweetness of the river that flows out of Eden is revealed. On Purim, everyone goes up to Gan Eden. Everything that a person eats or drinks is the aspect of “the guarded wine,” “the wild ox,” and the Leviathan. They are all birds from Gan Eden. The Leviathan is from Gan Eden. The “wild ox” is from Gan Eden. The Kedushas Yom Tov says that through the light of Purim it is revealed who a person truly is. It is revealed specifically on Purim when a person sees where he is truly holding. He merits seeing all his flaws, all his sins, and he sees that, really, he is Haman.
   The Kedushas Levi says that the moment that a person sees his own lowliness—where he is really holding—he can fall into utter despair. And specifically on Purim, he is in terrible danger because it is all revealed to him. He sees all his flaws, his forbidden gazing, how far he is from true faith, and he can fall into utter despair because of this. So, a person must drink wine on Purim, as it is written, “Give strong drink to the woebegone and wine to those of embittered soul” (Mishlei 31:6) to lift up his mind so that he can sing and be happy. After a person comes to the realization that he is Haman, that he is the biggest sinner there is, then he can become very distressed. Therefore, Chazal made it an obligation to drink wine on Purim, because through wine he will be able to “na’afoch hu”—turn everything around. Then he sees that really it’s exactly the opposite: even a Haman like me, a rasha like me, can pray, can go and hear the Megillah read. I even went to the mikveh. I even put on tefillin. I merited to such wondrous mitzvos—there’s no greater kiddush Hashem than this. The farther away a person is, the greater the kiddush Hashem and the happiness, because “Cursed is Haman” becomes “Blessed is Mordechai.” Only someone who knows he is Haman can merit becoming “Blessed is Mordechai.”
   The holy Arizal said that every Purim we are enlightened with the Yesod of Abba, which does not occur at any other time. The Yesod of Abba is always concealed, always hidden. When we read the Megillah, a revelation takes place and the Yesod of Abba is revealed. Such great lights descend that at that time anyone can return in real teshuva. Mordechai, who is the Yesod of Abba, is revealed in all his glory on Purim, because the revelation of Mordechai—the revelation of the Yesod of Abba—draws down miracles and wonders for us. This revelation is the faith that “there is nothing but Hashem”—“Ain Od Milvado.” There can be an Achashverosh and a Haman, and they can make terrible decrees, but they really don’t exist. They are only an illusion. And all of these things are only to awaken us to teshuva. The main point of Purim is to make teshuva. Purim is not for messing around. It’s not for setting of firecrackers. It’s not about breaking things—not about throwing up—not about doing damage to anyone. Purim is about making real teshuva. Just as we saw on Purim over the generations, that Breslovers would cry rivers of tears during the Megillah reading. They would shed rivers of tears during the dancing. This is “a person is obligated to drink wine on Purim” (Megillah 7b). This drinking doesn’t mean becoming completely drunk—it is a red face from excitement. It is deveikus.
   Rav Nosson says that on Purim a person needs to restrain himself even more than on Yom Kippur, because on Yom Kippur we are in shul 24 hours, stuck to our seats, but on Purim we need to drink wine and to sing and dance and be happy and at the same time to retain our senses and cling to Hashem. The whole reason for drinking wine is to come to deveikus and to see Hashem face to face. The Shulchan Aruch says that a person must not think that he can get so drunk that he can’t say Birkas HaMazon or pray Ma’ariv or not pray with kavannah. The drinking is not in order to become light-headed. The drinking is only on the condition that he not take even a single bracha or minhag lightly. The essence of the mitzvah is to be happy: “Wine gladdens a person’s heart.” Wine has the power to incite the blood, and when a person’s blood is flowing, then it is easier for him to dance, to be happy, and to sing. It makes it easier to be happy and elevates the joy
   Purim is an indicator for the whole year, because a person needs to be happy all year long. But a person cannot be happy all the time in a way that deviates from the norm, because he needs to remain rational with his senses intact, not going out of his mind in any way, because the mind defines reality and keeps the person in line, whereas wine breaks down one’s mental controls. That is why Rabbeinu warned us that that all year long we should not drink any wine or intoxicating beverages, but on Purim we want to do the opposite, and burn all our mental barriers. And this is the special power of Purim. On Purim the wine does not damage a person if he drinks properly. We say on Purim, “The wine goes in and the secrets come out.” And then a person’s love for Hashem and his fear of Hashem is revealed, because if a person is filled with love of Hashem deveikus all year long, then on Purim it all comes out and he merits dancing from love of Hashem and deveikus. But if the opposite is true, if he is far from deveikus and he is stuck in his bad middos, in cutting down other people, in speaking lashon hara, then on Purim, he is light-headed and he attacks other people, because on Purim his mental barriers are removed by the wine. On Purim, we want to burn the mental barriers of the mind through wine, and to truly reveal our love of Hashem and not love for other things, because a person who all year long is burning with love for Hashem has no other time to show it, so when Purim comes, he can fully express his love for Hashem for 24 hours.   

   Please, compassionate and merciful G-d, help us to merit through the joy, the meal and the drinking of Purim, to reach the mochin of Arich which is drawn from the 50th gate, from the “Reisha d’lo Isyada, ” (the Head that is Unknown), until we merit to achieve the Upper Will, to know nothing at all, which is the aspect of “mah.” And we should be included in the upper surrounding lights of “What did you see, what did you understand?” (Zohar I:Ib, see Likutei Moharan II, 7:6) until we don’t know the difference between “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai” Through the power of the light of “Blessed is Mordechai” may we be worthy of repairing the sin of Shaul who was supposed to illuminate all the sparks from the depths of the klippot, and specifically the klippa of Haman-Amalek.”

(taken with permission from Tzama'a Nafshi)

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