Waking the King
is a memorable incident in Megilat Esther during which the king cannot
sleep. Wondering what was keeping him awake, he concluded that it must
have something to do with his conduct. He looked in his diary and noticed
that two people had attempted to assassinate him and Mordechai had notified
him, thereby saving his life. He realized then that he would not be able
to sleep until he repaid Mordechai for his good deed. The king called
in his chief advisor and infamous enemy of the Jews, Haman, and asked
him how he should repay a person who had the king's best interests at
heart. Haman arrogantly assumed that the king was referring to him and
suggested that the man be placed on the royal horse and led around the
capital city, Shushan.
is the beginning of the downfall of Haman and the miracle of the Persian Jews'
survival from the harsh decree. In fact, when chanting the Megilah publicly, the
reader has to raise his voice in a triumphant tone during the section when he
describes the king's sleeplessness. Why should the king's sleeplessness be considered
such an important part of the miracle of Purim?Looking at the incident
more deeply, the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that sleep is like our exile. When
a person sleeps, his internal powers, such as digestion, function to a greater
extent than the external powers, such as hearing. But what does it mean that the
king was awake that night? And according to the interpretation that "the
king" (when no personal name is mentioned) symbolizes G'd, how can we say
that G'd sleeps at all, since He constantly sustains His creation. When
G'd's will is not done, it is as if His is asleep. If the Jewish people act according
to his will, he is awake, and when this happens, the barriers created by exile
are broken. This will happen when the inner dimension of the soul is revealed;
redemption requires awakening the king.How can the king be awakened? Through
self-sacrifice, such as demonstrated by the Jews at the time of Purim. Any Jews
who wanted to escape the deadly decree during the year that it lasted could have
done so by denying their Jewish identity and swearing to give up Jewish observance.
However, not a single Jew in Persia took this option, and this integrity and self-sacrifice
woke up the king. On a spiritual level, self-sacrifice reaches a higher
level than the concealment of divine light, even higher than the source of the
neshama soul itself. But if the world is asleep, how can such a service reach
a level that is higher than the source of the soul? And how is this connected
with Esther?Of course, Esther played a pivotal role in waking up the king
of the world. According to Kabbala, the names "Esther" and "Hadassah"
are part of the highest worlds and also exist in all the souls of Israel. Hadassah,
the original name of Esther, corresponds to the aspect of tiferet (beauty) which
includes all ten sefiros as well as itself, especially chesed (kindness) and gevurah
(severity) from which tiferet itself is derived. The name Esther corresponds
to malchut, the aspect of concealment Although malchut is the lowest of the sefirot,
it is actually the gateway between worlds, and, in the aspect of Esther, has its'
source in the highest world, Atzilut, which is beyond all distinctions and limitations.
So even though malchut is the lowest level, it is part of the highest world, Atzilut,
and just as malchut is characterized by concealment, as a gateway between worlds,
it is also the aspect of revelation.Malchut of Atzilut is the source of
all the souls of Israel which have a spark of the Creator. Because every soul
is ultimately from Atzilut, the level beyond limitations, every Jew can reach
a spiritual level that is beyond barriers. In other words, he or she can wake
up the king. How does this relate to the self-sacrifice mentioned earlier?There
are many ways of serving G'd: with one's heart, with one's soul, and with one's
might. One works up from one level of service to another. At first, one may connect
with G'd on an emotional level, and finally, one may dedicate his or her entire
life to serving G'd. But if the world is asleep, how can one reach these levels
of service? In truth, sleep or exile cannot affect the inner dimension
of the soul which shines through the darkness of confinement. This light is even
brighter than the light of the pure souls before exile, and it is what enables
a Jew to give up his life for G'd even if he is not that aware of G'd or knowledgeable
about mitzvot. The enthusiasm of self-sacrifice reaches a higher level than an
intelligent, calculated ascension of levels. This expression of the essence of
the soul reveals the highest levels and wakes the king up from his apparent slumber.
The service of self-sacrifice which reveals the very essence of the soul
is more apparent in all generations at Purim than at any other time of the year.
This joy of Purim will last even after the Redemption arrives, G-d willing, in
[Excerpted, translated and adapted from Sefer
Maamarim 5719, p. 630.]Yehoshua Metzinger of Nahariya,
a former counselor at Ascent, is now married and living in Jerusalem.