The word Purim is Persian for "lots." The whole manner
in which a lot works transcends rationality. Take, for example, the
Temple service of Yom Kippur: a lot was cast to determine which of two
goats would be pushed of the cliff to certain death, and which would
have the distinction of being offered on the altar. Before the lot was
cast, it could go either way: neither goat was logically more "fit"
for one or the other of the two fates. Only the lot decided; the entire
affair was altogether beyond intellect.
Ultimately, the Jew is connected to G-d in the same superrational
way. Despite whatever inconsistencies there may be in his conscious
or rational relationship with Him, the essential, intrinsic. supperrational
connection always exists; he can always fall back on it. By tapping
into it, all shortcomings can be overlooked and forgiven.
Bur if there is a level at which evil is overlooked and
doesn't matter, it would seem that the forces of evil could also draw
sustenance from that level, once the pipelines of life-force are opened.
Now, a little evil is necessary on the world. It is known
that when the Sages prayed to G-d to remove the evil inclination, the
world was not able to function; they had to pray for G-d to return it
(Yoma 69b). But this evil must remain in check. It must remain a "domesticated
beast," the knows its place and is subservient to the forces of holiness.
As soon as it begins to assert itself, it must be considered a "monster,"
trying to take over man and his world.
Haman knew that there is a superrational level of relationship
to G-d. from which good and evil can draw equally. This is why he cast
lots when devising his scheme to wipe out the Jews. He wanted to "imitate"
the Jews' relationship with G-d; to "rise" to that level where intellect
has no say and cannot deny him the power he wants.
Bur Esther realized what Haman didn't. She knew that there
are two facets of the superconscious: true, G-d is above good and evil;
His essence exists outside the context of creation, and "As for your
many sins-can they harm Him?...and if you acted righteously-will it
benefit Him?" (Job 35:6-7).
But this is only when we take reality at face value. What
we see is that G-d gives life to all creation, and no moral strings
seem to be attached. Good and evil seem to be equally capable of receiving,
and there appears to be no advantage in being aligned with one or the
But the Jew knows to look behind the facade, behind the
"mask" and "costume" the world is wearing. The Jew knows that G-d created
the world for the purpose of ultimately revealing Himself in it, and
whatever creative force he invests in keeping the externalities of the
world operative if there only to serve the higher purpose. G-d needs
a running world to serve as a backdrop for the drama of human history,
He gives life-force to the world regardless of its moral performance.
But that life-force is only the external dimension of His energy and
interest in the world. G-d's inner intention is that His presence be
revealed in the world and this is possible only through holiness, Torah,
mitzvot, and Jews. On this level, the highest of all, evil has no "equal
rights." A dog may be able to eat from a king's table, but only what
is thrown "over the shoulder." the scraps. To actually sit down and
dine at a royal feast, one must be refined, one must be worthy. Esther
knew this, and took advantage of Haman's ascending to the vantage point
where rationality has no sway in order to reveal his true colors.
In order to prevent Haman from succeeding, Esther did
two things. First, she and Mordechai inspired the Jewish people to do
teshuvah: "Then Esther told them to tell Mordechai: 'Go gather all the
Jews in Shushan and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink for three
days, nights and day: Also I and my maidens will fast...'" (Esther 4:15-16).
It was necessary for the Jewish people to delve into themselves and
reveal a deeper connection to G-d than that normally operative; they
had to rise to the level of His innermost Will. This is the inner meaning
of the continuation of the verse: "....and so I will go into the king,
though it is against the law." The soul ascends to its most intimate
level of communion with the King, higher than rationality- "against
Once that was done, Esther invited Haman to a feast with
the king (Esther 5:4). By according him the distinction of dining with
the royal couple, she led him to believe that he was in fact on their
level. Now that she and her people were holding by the inner dimension
of G-d's will, she was able to elevate Haman to that level as well.
At that dramatic point, the king realized Haman's true intentions to
destroy the Queen and rape her in front of him. When Haman's ultimate
nerve was exposed, he was thrown to the gallows.
[Interestingly, it is in this verse that G-d's name -which
is not mentioned explicitly in the entire book of Esther-appears as
the initials of the words "Let the king and Haman come today...."]
By revealing within himself his absolute and essential
bond with G-d, the Jew wipes out any possibility of evil getting out
of hand. This is the message if of Purim: by taking all things to their
root, the Jew eradicated evil automatically.
from Ascent Quarterly #14 (based
on Ma'amarei Admor HaZaken p.381)
Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is one of
the founders of Ascent of Safed. He presently lives and writes in Jerusalem.