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Monday, March 13, 2006


Purim Torah

Purim Torah
In the book of Esther, after Haman is hung, Mordecai and Esther
request from the king to rescind the decree that was sent out to destroy the
Jews. The king responds that any decree that goes out with the seal of the
king can not be rescinded, but a new decree could be written. Therefore, a
new decree encouraging the Jews to stand up for their lives was sent out. We
see from this that when a judgment cannot be changed or rescinded, a new one
can supersede the previous decree making it in effect null and void.
There are times in our lives when past consequences or judgments for
our actions catch up to us. What can we do at that time? We are told in the
Talmud that teshuvah, the life changing act of sincere repentance, when
motivated by fear of punishment, has the retroactive power of turning
purposeful sins into inadvertent mistakes. More than this though is teshuvah
when motivated by love, which can even turn past purposeful sins into
The incredible power of teshuva, to not only change the present and
affect the future, but even "change" the past, is one of the many secrets of
Purim. This is one of the reasons why the Talmud says that Yom HaKippurim,
the culmination of the ten days of teshuva, should be read Yom (a day)
K'(like) Purim. This astounding statement comparing Yom Kippur, the holiest
day of the year, to a seemingly “fun’ day like Purim, captures the essence
of what Purim really is - the ability to completely turn around our lives
even when all seems lost.
The power of teshuva at the time of Purim was activated when Esther
realized she must be ready to sacrifice her life if necessary in order to
plead the case of the Jews before the king. That act of supreme self
sacrifice and teshuva, coupled with her call for all Jews in the capital
city of Shushan to fast with her for three days and nights, aroused Divine
compassion from Above, turning the plans of Haman upside down, till he was
hung on the very same tree he hoped to hang Mordecai. From this we learn the
incredible power of one person and one community to change a seemingly
unchangeable judgment and alter the momentum of a chain of events. This
total reversal of fortune is captured by the words ­ nahafoch hu - “to
completely turn around;” meaning that the day of Purim was changed from a
day of possible holocaust to that of unbounded joy and celebration.
The process of nahafoch hu can be seen on many different levels. Purim
occurs during the month of Adar, the last month of the year. At this time of
the year, after the long and seemingly endless winter it sometimes feels
like spring will never come. But on Purim we realize there will indeed be
spring and new life and renewal, therefore Purim comes on the full moon
exactly one month before Pesach and "official” spring. According to both
nature and the inner psyche of man, no month is harder to feel joy - but
nahafoch hu! In history, as well, we see how many times the Jewish people
in countless situations, communities, and generations faced to all
appearances insurmountable odds and circumstances - but again and again ­
nahafoch hu.
All the above ideas have one common theme. At the very moment when we
feel all is lost, there is contained within every Jew the power to utterly
change his or her circumstances. Like a seed in the ground that must
completely rot before new life can germinate, the secret of transformation
involves contacting the Divine "nothing" within us in order to be filled by
God's "something," thus releasing new hope and potential from our most inner
point of being, where we realize that the soul is "a part of God Above."
When we call out to God from the depths of our being, Divine compassion is
awakened. This is the secret in the Book of Esther where the sleep of the
king is disturbed. The Sages understood that the fasting and prayers of the
Jewish people wakened God (so to speak), the King of Kings. It is from this
point that the story turns around.
The excess drinking of wine on Purim also involves the energy of
nahafoch hu, as usually too much wine dulls our senses, puts us to sleep and
at a certain stage is a depressant. On Purim we take the potentially
destructive energy of wine and turn it into pure joy, expanded consciousness
and awakening to the Divine hiding behind every mask. We completely
transform the outward appearance of the feast of Ahashverosh, as described
in the beginning of the Book of Esther, and turn it into the ecstatic joy
and holiness of the Purim feast.
The fact that God's name is not mentioned in the book of Esther and
that Divine salvation occurred through seemingly ordinary means, demands a
more profound understanding than even a miracle that occurs when the laws of
nature are temporarily suspended. It also leads to a deeper perception of
"reality." On Purim, physical and spiritual reality unite, free will and
Divine Providence merge and human history is revealed as identical to God's
plan for humanity. The fact that this reality is at times hard to comprehend
only means we have to work harder to find the ultimate unity that exists in
the world. The drinking on Purim helps us pull back the normative curtain of
illusionary reality and reveals God's Providence in all places and at all
times, even those occurrences we initially perceive as “evil.” But this
takes getting to a consciousness where all becomes known within the
unknowable, ad d'lo yada.
The word Purim comes from the word "lots," implying causality,
coincidence and luck, which is the superficial way many look at the world.
Our task on Purim is to do teshuva in such a manner that we make our will
His will, so he can make His will our will, thereby revealing His presence
in every point of time and space.
The story of Purim is alive and as relevant as ever in the world today
- the same assimilation exists that lead us to eat at the feast of
Ahashverosh, those who want to destroy us like Haman are in abundance, world
leaders like Ahashverosh still play a two-faced political game in regards to
Israel, and then there are those like Mordecai and Esther who live and are
ready to die for their Jewish identity.
If there ever was a time for the Jewish people to call out to God and
come together as Esther gathered the people together - it is now. If we came
together and cried out from our deepest depths to God, for the sake of the
Jewish people and the whole world, surely a nahafoch hu would occur that
would ultimately bring the Messiah.
It is just a matter of time when we will in fact do this, but what time
could be better than now, as Hillel taught: "If not now - when?"(Pirkei Avot

Ohr Chadash
Rabbi Avraham Arieh & Rachel Trugman
tel: 972-8-9265-247
fax: 972-8-9265-448
email: trugman@netvision.net.il
website: www.thetrugmans.com


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