Lots of Luck
translation and adaptation of a discourse by
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Purim 5713 
by Rabbi David Rothschild
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In the texts
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Lots of Luck
II. Mute Monarch
Part 1 (of 3)
Lots of Luck
[Following the destruction
of the First Temple in Jerusalem, Jews were banished to Babylon, Persia and elsewhere.
Sixty-two years later, in the year 356 BCE, the miracle of Purim occurred.
three generations of assimilation, Persian Jews were similar to their present
day counterparts in the Diaspora. Despite the paltry quality of their religious
observance, they merited one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history.
Haman the son of Hammedata, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to
exterminate the Jews and had cast a pur, that is a lot, to terrify and annihilate
them. But when Queen Esther came before the king, he commanded in writing that
(Haman's) wicked scheme, which he devised against the Jews, should fall on his
own head; and they hung him and his sons on the gallows. Therefore, they called
these days Purim from the word pur". (Esther 9: 24-25)]
they called these days Purim from the word pur." 1 ""Pur"
is the Persian word for lottery. 2 It is necessary to understand what the meaning
of lot is. For the verse implies that it is the central miracle of Purim. Since
the entire miracle is named after this word.
The Zohar states 3: "Yom
Kippur is similar to Purim." Because Yom Kippur is described as being only
similar to Purim, it follows that Purim is on a higher level than Yom Kippur.
and Yom Kippur are both associated with lotteries. The Talmud relates 3 "On
Yom Kippur there were two goats, identical in appearance, stature and monetary
value." A lottery determined which goat would be sacrificed and which one
would be sent into the wilderness. Consequently, the repentance of Yom Kippur,
in all its ramifications, was contingent on a lottery.
Day of Atonement lottery is set forth in Leviticus. "From the congregation
of Israel he shall take two he-goats for a sin offering." 5 "Aaron shall
cast lots upon the two he-goats: one lot 'for HaShem' and one lot for 'Azazel'(a
mountain precipice in the desert)." 6 Azazel is a construct of two Hebrew
words az-el. El translates as "strong;" az means "difficult."
Leviticus continues 8, "Aaron shall bring near the he-goat designated
by lot for HaShem and sacrifice it as a sin offering. And the he-goat designated
by lot for Azazel shall be left alive before G-d to provide atonement, by sending
it to Azazel, the wilderness."
The Mishnah relates how the lottery
was performed. "Two identical sin-offering goats were brought before the
High Priest inside the Temple. One goat was positioned facing the Priest's right
side; the other goat was placed opposite his left side. A wooden box containing
two wooden lots was placed before the High Priest. On one of the lots was written
'to the Name (G-d)'. Upon the second was inscribed 'To Azazel'.9
shaking the box to mix up the lots, the High Priest reached inside and removed
them, one in each hand. The lot that was taken by his right hand was placed on
the goat opposite his right side. And the lot that was grasped in his left hand
was put on the left-sided goat. 10
"The High Priest then tied a red
cord onto the head of the goat chosen to be sent to Azazel. Then he lashed a gold
band around the neck of the goat selected for sacrifice." 11]
A lottery figures prominently in the Purim story
as well: it brought about the miracle of Purim. Queen Esther records in the Megilla,
"In the first month, the month of Nissan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus,
pur, that is a lot, was cast in the presence of Haman from day to day, and from
month to month, to the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar." 12
Haman had a lottery performed to ascertain the month he would find success. Then
a second lottery was made to determine the winning month's fortuitous day. 13]
knew that Moses, the redeemer of the Jews, had passed away on the seventh of Adar.
So when the lottery fell on the seventh of Adar, Haman rejoiced. But Haman didn't
know that Moses was also born on the seventh of Adar! 14 The very fact that the
lottery fell on the month of Moses' birth was in itself the principal miracle.
Master of Will
Lotteries operate on a plane which is higher than reason
and understanding. "Lots are cast in secret; their judgment is from G-d."
[The workings of a lottery are unperceived by man. Although people believe
lotteries are left to chance, in truth the outcome isn't accidental. Rather, the
Providence of G-d guides it. 16]
In respect to lotteries, one doesn't rely
on reason or will. Rather he expects the outcome to be decided solely by the lottery.
Lotteries are above intelligence and will; they reach the Master of Will.
Master of Will wills a particular will; he decides what should or should not be
Although Yom Kippur and Purim are both dependent on the result
of lotteries, nevertheless Purim is loftier than Yom Kippur. For on Yom Kippur
atonement is contingent on repentance. But on Purim, additional factors aren't
necessary. The lottery itself brings about the miracle.
exists, however, a second correlation that equates Yom Kippur and Purim. Both
holidays are above G-d's Name (the ineffable four-letter Name, Y-H-V-H). On Yom
Kippur repentance arouses the innermost aspect of G-d. The Zohar describes this
level as G-d's Essence, which is prior to - that is above - the revelation present
in His four-letter Name. 17
[As King David implored, "I seek Your
Inwardness." 18 The Hebrew word for inwardness is derived form the same two-letter
root as the word for preceding.]
[G-d's four-letter Name is the revealed
source of the 613 Commandments. As the verse intimates, "This is my Name
eternally, and this is my remembrance from generation to generation." 19
The numerical value of "my Name" (shemi) is 350. When added to the first
two letters of G-d's name - yud and heh - the tally comes to 365. This equals
the number of Torah prohibitions.
"My remembrance" (zichri) equals
237. Added to the last two letters of the four-letter Name - vav and heh - the
number 248 is reached. These are the 248 positive commandments of the Torah.
a positive commandment isn't observed or a negative commandment violated, then
the mitzvah's source in the letters of G-d's Name becomes blemished. On Yom Kippur,
repentance arouses G-d's Mercy, manifest in the inner aspect of the sefirah of
Crown (Keter) which is above the four-letter Name.
G-d's Name commences
with the letter yud - symbolizing the sefirah of Wisdom (Chochmah). From within
the inner aspect of Crown shines forth the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. Since
they originate from a place, which is higher than the source of Torah and mitzvahs,
the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy have the power to correct defects in the Name.
Hence Yom Kippur is before or above G-d's Name.]
Purim is also higher than
G-d's Name. That's the reason G-d's four-letter Name doesn't appear even once
in the entire Book of Esther.
[The upper point of the Hebrew letter yud
- the first letter of the four-letter Name -- corresponds to the outer dimension
of the sefirah of Crown. Allegorized as a human skull, this aspect of Crown serves
as G-d's faculty of Will. Will, then, is the concealed source of mitzvahs. Likened
to 613 pathways embedded in the skull, the mitzvahs are expressions of G-d's Will.
20 King David hints, "All G-d's way;" 21 and "I will see your ways."
22 The numerical value of the word Keter is 620. This hints that Will is the source
of the 613 Torah commandments and the seven rabbinical injunctions.]
Purim, one reaches a level above Intelligence and Will, until connecting with
the Master of Will Himself.
[on to Part
[Rabbi David Rothschild, a resident of Tsfat, is the founder
and editor of Nefesh Magazine.]