Purim is in the month of Adar. The day before Purim is the Fast of Esther, and, in Jerusalem and other walled cities, the day after Purim is called Shushan Purim.
On Purim, when the sun goes down and the next morning, we read
the Megillah Esther
. The story of Purim takes place over many years and is thrilling because of all the hidden miracles that took place.
Let My Nation Live by Yosef Deutsch
re-tells the story of Purim from start to finish with all the Talmudic and Midrashic sources included. The result is a thriller of the first order. The Talmudic and Midrashic sources elucidate each chapter of the Megillah so that the reader can see all the miracles that took place. Why is this important?
Purim shows us how the Divine Will works. With these sources, we have access to what our Sages tell us about the Heavenly hand in the events. We can understand why Mordechai and Esther chose the way they did, and most of all, we see that there is detailed supervision of the world by the Creator.
The Jewish people had to unify and sincerely repent, fast and pray in order to avert the deadly decree (gazeira). This is an important story for our times, a story that every Jewish person should know.
We learn the importance of rising above our limitations further on the holiday of Purim, where we are instructed to come a point of realization that there is no difference between Mordechai and Haman.
As I left the megillah reading one Purim night, I remarked to my friend what a story…I had read it as if it were happening today, with the threat of nuclear attack from Iran so prominent in the news. Haman’s determination and dedication to the annihilation of the Jewish people is seen again in current times.
My friend said to me in reply that she is Haman…and that she doesn’t have to get drunk to know that there is no difference between Haman and Mordechai. Because my friend is a guten (a truly good soul), I replied to her that she is hardly Haman, upon which she confessed that she has many sins. I said, alright but that does not make you an enemy of the Jewish people and an evil person. To which she replied, “How do I know I was not Haman in another lifetime? Or Hitler? “
What I gleaned from this conversation is that there is no difference between Haman and Mordechai because they both existed in this frame of reference. Being in this frame of reference means that we are on a mission to improve ourselves in some way, that we have not yet completed what is necessary to live blissfully for all eternity in the warmth of the light of the Higher Authority of the World.
This levels the playing field.
We are all limited, imperfect souls brought into this frame of reference to run with the ball, to make changes and improvements that imprint on our souls and to better this world and the heavenly spheres. And if we don’t do it right, we come back into this frame of reference over and over again until we do get it right. The Higher Authority has the ultimate plan for “No Soul Left Behind”. Fix it here, or fix it there. He brings every soul to rectification.
This is true for every human, regardless of race, religion, sex, or creed.
If we are here to rectify our souls, how do we do that? What is it that He wants from us?
Being close to someone means being like them. The Higher Authority is the ultimate giver, nurturer and shepherd. He only treats us in a kindly fashion for our own growth. He sends us tests and opportunities designed specifically for our personalities and situations so that we, with our free will, can elect to model ourselves after His kindness, giving, nurturing, patient, forbearing and forgiving characteristics. Why do this? We want to imprint these characteristics on ourselves so that when we are out of this frame of reference, and we are united with the Higher Authority, we will experience the pleasure of having earned the joy of being connected. Imagine if we are experts in taking fro mothers. If that is our specialty, how will it feel to spend eternity giving? It surely won’t feel like a reward. Likewise, if we are experts in killing or punishing, how will it feel to spend eternity bringing life into the world, feeding every animal, forgiving and guarding every creature? We may not find our resources actualized.
People sometimes ask how could there be a Higher Authority if the Holocaust happened. Others respond by saying that is what mankind did. There is a loud message here. Mankind, in this frame of reference, means you and me and everyone else. We are the same – made in the Higher Authority’s image and capable of attaining holiness (rising above our limitations) through spiritual growth or falling terribly low.
In today’s world, we see twisted moral equivalents and terrible violent murders, like what happened on September 11 2001 and more. Growing up in a world where the “cycle of violence” has existed so long that at least a generation knows nothing of a world where such thinking does not exist. Today, no matter what either side says, one has the sense that we are only looking into a mirror – whatever one side says about the other, the other side can find a way to say about the first. It is impossible for people in this frame of reference to discern what the Higher Authority knows to be true because we have limited powers of perception and articulation, and an overwhelming human nature that desires to take a quick shallow look at things and make an imperfect judgment upon which to act.
I was in the bank and the teller was telling me about her son, who takes a potato and cuts it into the shape of a gun to shoot. This is the human nature we are born with, anger and desire. It is up to parents to help children become fully human so that they have civilized ways of dealing with anger and desire, ways that reflect the attributes of the Higher Authority. Left to our own devices, and without great effort to help our children grow spiritually, we fall.
There is no difference between Haman and Mordechai…both were put here to grow spiritually, repent, and come close to the Higher Authority. One did, one did not. The one who did not will still be brought to rectification, but not without having to undergo more suffering either here or in another frame of reference.
The goal of free will is to make our will the will of the Higher Authority. When we do this, we realize that mankind is One. That we all have the same Creator for a Father, who loves variety. He has given us His Will in the Torah, which includes Seven Noahide Laws for non-Jewish people. Only Torah allows for every type of person in the world to reach connection and eternity.
As a Baale Teshuva, a returnee to Judaism, I have come to see all the diversity within the Jewish world. Some are stricter, some are looking for leniencies. Some want something much easier. The reality is that Judaism brings great pleasure (see What the Angel Taught Me) by Rabbi Noach Weinberg. There is only One Higher Authority, although He loves variety. The instructions that He gives in the Torah are the truth, the only truth. We may not comprehend how our doing some of these things affects the heavenly spheres, but we trust that it does.
So, there are no short cuts, no greater pleasures, no easier ways.
We must be determined at all times to see that the Higher Authority is One and to climb the mountain of emulating Him every day – every man, no matter what the religion. When we do, hopefully that will eliminate any desire for people to kill or harm others because we will see that as the Higher Authority’s business and not for a person. The Seven Noahide Laws require courts for justice. But no individual person is otherwise capable of rendering a proper judgment because only the Higher Authority knows the truth of each person’s intentions, innocence and guilt.
Let’s look a bit further into an individual person. Each person has a set of perceptions like an eye glass prescription for that person. What we see will convey to us the areas to which we are “commissioned” to bring the attributes of the Higher Authority.
If individuals try to establish locally a set of rules – for example in a country without any government or other authority - it would be like allowing a gang of criminals to overrun a neighborhood. The role of a government establishes and enforces laws so that there is civil rule. And in a democracy, civil rule is determined by a majority rule. The role of the Higher Authority may appear to be somewhat in the background.
When countries clash, the greater force is the one that usually prevails. Again, the role of the Higher Authority may appear to be somewhat in the background.
We live in times when religions are clashing, with many people’s deaths being declared for some holy purpose.
Can successful killing claim to be the will of the Higher Authority? Yes.
Can the perpetrators of the act claim to be pleasing to the Higher Authority? Absolutely not.
The perpetrators of the act put forward their personal and limited desire. For that, the Heavenly system of justice will deal with them, bringing their souls to rectification. When their criminal acts are permitted, then we see that these vicious volunteers brought into the world the work of the Higher Authority’s Agent, the Soton. This cannot be claimed for the perpetrator’s cause any more than gravity. Our choice is that we can do acts that serve to please the Higher Authority, OR, we can do what will advance our own anger and desire and, because we have free will, the Higher Authority will utilize our poorly chosen actions in a way to conduct His Divine Justice in the world. Woe be it to the ones who willingly volunteer for this service, for they waste the precious time they have in this frame of reference on tasks that build need for rectification as well as lose time in this frame of reference from tasks that build connection through altruistic giving and nurture. Can anyone imagine the shameful suffering of a soul once attached to the Higher Authority that brings comfort to the loved ones of a person who died at that soul’s own hand?
There is no difference between Haman and Mordechai. Both had free will. We get to choose what we do with our time in this frame of reference. Let us all fix and mend and draw close to the Higher Authority through acts of lovingkindness, forgiveness, patience, forbearance, tolerance and peace.