A lesson given by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlit”a,
on the morning of the
14th of Adar, Purim HaMeshulash 5761, after the reading of the
“There were hangings of white, of fine cotton,
and blue (techeiles) fastened with cords of fine linen and purple
on silver rods and pillars of marble. The divans were of gold and silver
upon a pavement of alabaster, marble, pearl, and precious stone” (Esther
Afterwards, the megilla says, “And Mordechai went
out from the presence of the King in royal apparel of blue (techeiles)
and white and with a great crown of gold and with a wrap of fine linen
and purple” (Ibid. 8:15). Mordechai merited attaining the golden crown
[the sefirah of Keter] within the world of Adam Kadmon.
This is the concept of “hands and feet” (see Likutei Moharan I:10),
since Mordechai represents the hands and Esther represents the feet. The
main rectification, however, is in the level of “feet”—raising the sefirot
of Netzach, Hod, and Yesod up to the level of Chessed,
and Tiferet. Then one must raise ChaGaT [Chessed,
up to the level of ChaBaD [Chochmah,
and ChaBaD up to Keter. This is “chur” (the “white”
fabric of the hangings), for “chur” alludes to “charus al ha’luchos”
(“engraved upon the Tablets”) and also to the resurrection of the dead.
Purim has an aspect of the mystery of the resurrection
of the dead. Rabbah killed Rav Zeira and then brought him back to life
[on Purim]. Why did Rabbah kill Rav Zeira in the first place? It was to
teach everyone that Purim is the time of the resurrection of the dead.
We find in the Gemara in Megilla (7b) the story about Rabbah’s killing
of Rav Zeira. It is possible for one person to bring another back to life
on Purim, for a powerful light of the resurrection descends on Purim. Rabbah
killed Rav Zeira and then revived him. The following year, Rabbah invited
Rav Zeira to his festive meal once again. Rav Zeira answered, “Once is
sufficient. You’re not going to pull the same trick on me every Purim.”
“Rabbah slaughtered Rav Zeira.” Rav Zeira was able
to enter a fiery furnace without being harmed. Rabbah wanted to show Rav
Zeira that not only could he escape from a fiery furnace unscathed, but
that he could also be killed and brought back to life. Not everyone knew
that Rav Zeira could enter a furnace every thirty days without being harmed.
The entire matter of Purim is about entering a fiery furnace.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin 64b in the section
called “Arba Misos” speaks about the sin of “passing” one’s child
[to be sacrificed to the ancient idol Moloch]. Passing the child
doesn’t mean burning him as a sacrifice. Burning the child is a separate
sin. A parent transgresses a sin if he burns his child as a sacrifice—it
is both idolatry and murder. “Passing the child to Moloch”
means literally passing the child between the pyres at the sacrificial
between the flames. Doing so incurs a death penalty of stoning—just for
passing the child between the flames. The Gemara asks a question. What
type of flames are these? How are these pyres built? How do they make these
fires? Rava says that they are just like the ones that are built on Purim.
During the time of the Gemara, of the Amoraim, the prevailing custom
was to build huge bonfires on Purim. Whoever managed to leap over the bonfire
was considered the most powerful. They would make a contest to see who
could leap over the bonfire. This was how they would play on Purim. This
was how they would rejoice on Purim: they would build bonfires and then
leap over them.
Rava says, “As they make on Purim.” Doing that which
they used to do on Purim is called “passing to Moloch.” Rashi says
that they would set up a walkway of bricks piled very high, one brick on
top of the other, and the fire would be lit on either side of the walkway.
They would pass the child across this walkway, and he would not be burned.
There was a flame, and the child was passed above the flame. Just doing
this alone was enough to make a person liable to the death penalty of stoning,
even if he didn’t go further and burn his child as a sacrifice. Actually
burning the child is called, “Adar Melech.” Prior to this discussion,
the Gemara says that there was [this process called] “Adar Melech.”
There used to be different types of idolatry which involved burning the
children, but they weren’t all called “Moloch.”
“And the Safruyim burn their children as
sacrifices to Adar Melech and Anmelech.” What are these Safruyim?
They are “the mule and the horse.” They had the form of a mule or a horse,
and that is what people would sacrifice their children to. There were idolatries
where people literally burned their own children as sacrifices, but yet,
this was a distinct type of idolatry, not the idolatry of serving Moloch.
“Passing one’s son or daughter through the fire” means passing, not burning.
What does it mean “to pass?” Where do we find another example of passing
one’s son or daughter through the fire? Rava says that the example of this
can be found on Purim. This custom existed on Purim in all of the Jewish
communities. The “Sefer HaManhig” or the “Sefer HaMachkim”
in the section on the laws of Purim says in the name of “Megillas Sesarim”
that this was once a custom in all of the Jewish communities of France—all
of the communities of France. We’ll bring the book with us on Shabbos,
which states that making huge bonfires on Purim was once a custom in all
of the Jewish communities of France. Perhaps this is the origin of the
“zikukin” (sparklers) that they use nowadays—they are a reminder
of those old Purim bonfires.
They used to build these bonfires throughout all
of the Jewish communities in France. This is what he says. Rava says, “Like
they do on Purim.” The person would have to leap. “Passing to Moloch”
means leaping. This is a different type of Moloch idolatry, not
that the child is passed, but that they tell the child to jump over the
fire. If the person did this to honor the idolatry known as Moloch,
that alone would make him liable to stoning. Rashi says, “They don’t make
him pass by walking, but rather the child jumps with his legs, just like
the children do during Purim. On Purim, they would dig a trench in the
earth with the fire burning inside it, and the child would jump from one
side of the trench to the other.” [They would do this because] Purim is
when we burn the evil impulse. The evil impulse is burned up on Purim.
It is burned up completely and nothing is left of it.
This is why they would build bonfires. This matter
of the bonfires was to show that the evil impulse is burned up on Purim,
and that is why we can merit to [see / experience] the resurrection of
the dead on Purim. Purim is the time of resurrection, “That they might
fulfill it to observe (“kiymu vi’kiblu”)…” There is no sin, for
the sin of the tree of knowledge is rectified on Purim. “From this tree…”
[The allusion to Haman in the Torah is “Hamin ha’eitz.” Hashem’s
question to Adam was, “Was it from the tree (of knowledge)…”]. Haman is
himself the tree of knowledge. [“Hamin ha’eitz” can also be read
“Haman ha’eitz”—“Haman is the tree.”] Haman himself, the wicked
one himself, is the tree of knowledge. Negative desires are themselves
the tree of knowledge, which is death itself. When a person falls into
negative desires, he falls into death. Gehinom is the fire that a person
ignited his whole life long. The fires of Gehinom that burn a person are
those which he stoked during his own lifetime.
On Purim, this is all sweetened. They used to build
bonfires on Purim. They sweetened / mitigated this fire. They nullified
this fire and transformed into a holy fire, a fire of joy. The “luminaries
of fire” have to be transformed into “luminaries of light”(Likutei Moharan
I:67). This transformation of fire into light is the spiritual work that
has to be done on Purim. That is why we drink wine on Purim, to show that
the luminaries of fire have already been transformed into luminaries of
light. The wine has been transformed into “the wine that gladdens,” the
“guarded wine” [of Eden].
This is the meaning of, “And Esther wrote…” (Esther
9:29). Only Esther wrote. “And Esther wrote…” [“Va’Tichtov Esther”—the
letter “tav” is written large in the scroll]. Only Esther knew the
extent of the miracles that had occurred. “And Esther wrote…” No one else
knew the true extent of the miracles, and no one else understood what really
had happened here. They cried for three days. “And in every province, wherever
the King’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among
the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing. And many lay in sackcloth
and ashes” (Esther 4:3).
“The couriers went out in haste by the King’s commandment.”
They all went out by the King’s command throughout the entire world. During
those days, the Persian empire extended all the way to Greece—all the way
to Athens—nearly to the city gates of Athens. Sometimes Athens was conquered
[and included in the empire] and sometimes not. India was to the east,
Athens [the Greeks] to the north and west, and Egypt and Ethiopia to the
south. It extended “from India to Ethiopia” (Esther 1:1)—to the
south and to the east. Saudi Arabia was in the south. The entire empire
was divided up into one hundred and twenty-seven provinces. They might
have even had provinces in Russia. There were one hundred and twenty-seven
provinces altogether, and the couriers had to reach all of them. That is
why, “And in every province, wherever the King’s commandment and his decree
came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting and weeping
and wailing. And many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” There was fasting and
weeping and wailing. Then, all of a sudden, after three days of everyone
crying, everyone crying and sitting on the ground and fasting for three
days…In many communities, they fasted the entire three days—they didn’t
eat at all. After the three days, they heard a rumor, “Yes, that Haman
who made the decree—the one who decreed destruction, killing, and annihilation—had
Is the rumor true, or is it false? Maybe it’s just
a rumor? How could one know for sure? Who was about to travel all the way
to Persia to find out what was really going on? Maybe the Jews spread a
false rumor? Maybe the enemies of Haman spread the rumor? Who could know?
Anyone who lived in Shushan knew the truth, but everyone else who lived
outside the capital [could think that] maybe it’s fata morgana (an
illusion). Who knows what it really is? Perhaps it’s a fata morgana?
Should they believe it? Should they not believe it? And the decree hadn’t
even been cancelled yet. The decree was only cancelled on the twenty-third
Sivan is a holy Name. Whoever merits [to be called]
Sivan has attained the highest possible Name. The month of Sivan is a conjunction
of “samech” and “Yavan” (Greece). It includes the letters
of the word Yavan—“I have raised up my sons, Tzion, against your sons,
Yavan” (Zechariah 9:13). The verse in Zechariah says, “I have raised
up my sons, Tzion, against your sons, Yavan.” One must insert the letter
[Tzion is the same as Yavan, with a tzaddik added at the beginning.]
How does one subdue the force of Yavan? “I have raised up my sons, Tzion,
against your sons, Yavan.” Insert the tzaddik within Yavan, and
it automatically becomes Tzion. The task is to transform Yavan into Tzion,
to transform the luminaries of fire into luminaries of light. This
is the month of Sivan, when Yavan is transformed into Sivan through the
addition of the letter samech. [The root “samech” means to
support.] “Hashem supports (“somech”) all the fallen” (Tehillim
The final forms of the letters mem and samech
that appeared on the Tablets were suspended there through a miracle. [The
Sages tell us that the letters of the ten commandments weren’t merely inscribed
on the Tablets. They were carved all the way through their thickness. That
is why the centers of the full circle and square final mem and samech
had to be suspended in a miraculous way.] The samech alludes to
to the supernal level of Binah. The mem alludes to Tevunah.
The samech is the upper level of Binah; it is the secret
of Purim. If one places the samech within Yavan, the samech
that alludes to the six sefirot of Binah, then Yavan becomes
Sivan, becomes the giving of the Torah at Sinai [which occurred during
the month of Sivan].
This is the issue of Purim’s name, and it is the
Arizal’s question as to why it is called Purim if there was only one pur
[lot]. On Pesach, we offer a million—a billion—Pesach sacrifices. But we
call it Pesach, not Pesachim. But, here we have only a single pur,
yet we call the holiday Purim.
The idea is that they ascended to mem–yud.
They ascended to Binah, to the upper level of Binah. “And
they walked together” (Ruth 1:19). [See the morning lesson.] Here,
ascended to Binah, and this is the mystery of Purim. Everyone ascends
to Binah, which is the mystery of the resurrection of the dead.
Their ascension to Binah is the mystery of the resurrection. Eliyahu
the prophet ascended to Binah, and that is why Eliyahu will be the
one to open the graves. He will bring the news of the coming of Moshiach
and will revive the dead. All of this will be accomplished by Eliyahu the
When the rumor of Haman’s
death circulated, people didn’t know whether or not it was to be believed.
He received a “command number eight” [the most urgent call-up signal of
the Israeli army] to go up to heaven. This is the most dangerous order,
the most frightening. Before the last elections they put out a “command
number eight,” meaning, who knows what will happen now. It was then that
he merited attaining the eight days of
Binah. We merit Binah,
the eight days of Binah. As for Haman, they suddenly heard that
he had gone to heaven. They didn’t know if it was for real or not. What
happened? Did he have a heart attack? How did it happen? The King got angry
with him? Did he anger the King?
It happens that a King will
sometimes get angry with one of his ministers, at his deputy. The King
suspected that his deputy wants to assassinate him, that he wants his crown
or his horse. People told him stories, “those who know the news”—like the
New York Times, the Washington Times, CNN, CIA, FBI—all of them wanted
to know exactly what had happened, what had gone on in Persia. They heard
that the Queen had endangered her own life, “And if I perish, I perish”
(Esther 4:16). She entered the King’s chamber without permission
and had also invited Haman [to the feast].
What happened here? What had Haman done? Why did
the King get angry with him all of a sudden? The King hanged Vashti because
of Haman. The Midrash puts it: Once, he hanged his wife because of his
friend. Now he hangs his friend because of his wife. Whom does he love
more? His wife, or his friend? Whom does he love more? This is a question;
this too is a question. All of the country’s pundits were busy with this
for weeks, for years. They’re still discussing this. Whom did he love more?
He just goes from one side to the other. One day he loves this one, the
next day he loves that one—without any rhyme or reason. One day he loves
his wife, the next day his friend. The Gemara says that he was a wishy-washy
kind of a King. He had no consistent approach. He had no set path in his
life—no path, no direction. People didn’t understand what had happened.
Did he hang him or not? They didn’t know what went on.
The truth is, “And Esther bas Avichail wrote.” Only
Esther knew the true extent of the miracles that had happened. Only Esther
knew that everything was supernatural. It wasn’t that he had gotten angry
with his friend; it wasn’t that he had suspected Haman of anything. Everything
was arranged from above the natural order of things. Her every footstep
involved billions of miracles, and only Esther knew the extent of them.
That is why the scroll is called Megillas Esther. “And Esther wrote.” A
person doesn’t realize how many miracles are being performed for him every
The Noam Elimelech comments on the verse,
“And they went on the dry land in the midst of the sea” (Shemos
15:19). You’re always in the midst of the sea. You walk through the Damascus
Gate, or you walk through Meah Shearim. It’s exactly the same miracle.
If it was decreed that someone was going to stab you, [then they will stab
you wherever you are]. Just now, in California, a child came to school
on Tuesday with an automatic weapon, and he sent two friends a “command
number eight” straight to heaven. He sent another thirteen children to
various local hospitals so they could have a little rest and relaxation.
This happened last Tuesday. And in Florida, they found an eight year old
boy—this [what happened in California] involved a fourteen year old boy—but
in Florida they found an [armed] eight year old boy before he managed to
kill his friends and send them to heaven for their tikkun. The Rebbe
said [regarding the story of “The Master of Prayer”] that one of the sects
[in the story] was a sect of murderers, and if he were to explain the thinking
behind their philosophy everyone would become one of them. [They say,]
“It is not just killing; it isn’t in vain. It achieves great spiritual
rectifications. It involves deep mysteries.”
Today, thank G-d, we’re living in an enlightened
generation. We’ve gotten through the “most enlightened age” that could
ever be, the Twentieth Century. And now we are in the Twenty-First Century.
The Twentieth Century is already past and gone, and anyway, it was just
a knife-wielding era. Now that the Twenty-First Century has begun, we already
have children coming to school with automatic weapons. They will have to
start putting electronic gates at the entrances to all the schools, just
as they have at airports, with electronic and magnetic gates so that they’ll
be able to spot the weapons…but it won’t make any difference.
So Haman was the most enlightened man in the world,
and he couldn’t stand those backward underdeveloped Jews, the same as Meretz
and Barak. He told us plainly that he wanted to make here a secular revolution.
It’s enough of being under the thumb of those backward cave dwellers who
are living according to rules that are five thousand years old. He wants
new rules, so that they should come to class every day with automatic weapons.
He wants that this will be an enlightened generation, a progressive generation,
that there should be progress, just like Bialik said. They asked Bialik,
“What do you want, that we should have a nation of thieves here?” He answered,
“That is exactly what I want. I want there to be a nation of thieves here,
as long as there isn’t a nation of religious Jews here.” Let there be thieves;
let there be murderers. The main thing is that they shouldn’t be religious
Jews, not a nation of backward people. I want to see enlightened people
here. This is a known statement of Bialik’s. It’s well known, and this
is no exaggeration. They said to him, “Everyone will be secular, so everyone
will be thieves and murderers.” He answered that that is exactly what he
would like to see. The main thing is—let them be thieves and murderers
for all he cares—the most important thing is that they shouldn’t be Orthodox.
He wants enlightened people with progress, with adultery—people who can
build castles in the air. He wants people who fly, who fly to Mars, who
fly here and there. He wants people who know how to fly, not people who
are still walking on the ground.
Haman was among the most enlightened people in the
world. Haman wanted there to be progress in the world. He went to the King
saying, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among
the people in all the provinces of your Kingdom, and their laws are different
from all people, and do not they keep the King’s laws” (Esther 3:8).
Which of the King’s laws don’t they keep? What does it mean that they don’t
keep the King’s laws? Do they have some other law (“das” which also
means “religion”)? What is “das”?
The Arabs have Ramadan. They fast for thirty days.
Rabin said that it’s better to fast for thirty days than to fast one day
on Yom HaKippurim. In any case, it’s better to be an Arab, as long as one
isn’t a Jew. We heard that during Ramadan, he went somewhere to make—this
was in Shevat—we heard that he went and ate [with the Arabs] a “seudas
mafsekes” [the final meal before a fast]. People said straight away
that he’d be eating his next “seudas mafsekes” in the next
world. Thank G-d, now he’s “living the eternal life.” It’s good for him
now—he doesn’t have to see here all the destructiveness that there is in
If a person is privileged to receive a “command
number eight,” to go to the next world, this is the highest thing that
could possibly happen. It’s the highest. Haman also received a “command
number eight.” Within three days he received a “command number eight.”
There apparently was a general mobilization going on there. That is why
he closed his epistle with the word, “prepared” [“atudim.” The Hebrew
spelling also allows it to be read as “atidim,” meaning futuristic
Haman was a very enlightened person; he was also
very prudent. He didn’t say outright that Vashti should be hanged. The
other six advisers were all hanged, all except for Haman. He wasn’t hanged.
Haman only said what would happen and how it would happen. “Vashti the
Queen has not only wronged the King, but also all the princes, and all
the peoples who are in all the provinces of the King Achashverosh” (Esther
1:16). He only fanned the flames; he only egged the others on. He didn’t
say a word about hanging her. There isn’t a single word about hanging her
in the Megilla. What does it mean that, “It was decreed (literally, “cut”)
upon her?” It means that they had to bring in expert plastic surgeons.
They saw such a lovely skin/tail [as in “fur”]. They suddenly saw such
a long, beautiful skin that was about two meters in length, such skin,
They wanted the skin, so they had to bring expert plastic surgeons who
would know how to do it without it being felt/noticeable.
This is why the Megilla uses the word “nigzar”
(“cut”) (Esther 2:1). They cut [this skin off]. They saw this lovely
skin, and it was a pity to lose such a skin. Who knows—it could be worth
a billion dollars: a Vashti skin for the winter. There are places in Persia
that are covered in ice, completely covered in ice. The Jews there would
literally go to immerse in the ice. In Persia, they literally immersed
in ice; it’s completely covered with ice. It could be that people needed
to go and immerse, so now anyone who went to immerse got to use her skin
[to keep warm]. This is what it means, “And it was ‘nigzar,’ cut
on her.” That is why he wasn’t able to give up on having her skin. [It
says, Achashverosh “remembered Vashti.” What did he remember? That he wanted
her “skin” to keep him warm.] She had such a lovely skin; it must be that
someone stole it. That is what really bothered him. After she had merited
having such a lovely skin…[later] he asked, “Where is the skin that was
cut [off of] her? Who cut it?” That was his main question. That was what
he cared about the most.
In any event, Esther knew about everything. “And
Esther wrote.” Only Esther knew the true extent of the miracles. A person
isn’t aware of all of the miracles that are going on around him every second,
how many miracles are being done for him every minute. He has no idea how
many miracles are being done for him every millisecond.
So Haman died. He died, and he ascended to heaven
in glory and joy. “And the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad” (Esther
8:15). Why was the city rejoicing and glad? When the decree first went
out that the Jews were to be killed, the verse says, “And the city of Shushan
was in consternation” (Esther 3:15). Afterwards, it says that the
city rejoiced and was glad which is the exact opposite.
When the decree first went out that the Jews were
to be killed, the city of Shushan was in consternation. “The city of Shushan”
alludes to the non-Jews, not the Jews. When the text wants to indicate
the Jews, it says “Jews.” The verse is speaking about the city of Shushan
here. When the decree went out about the Jews, it says that the city of
Shushan was in consternation, and later [when it was revoked] that the
city rejoiced and was glad. It ought to have been the opposite—when the
death decree first went out, it should have said that the city [meaning,
the non-Jews] “rejoiced and was glad, ” for it is referring to the non-Jews.
Afterward, when the decree was revoked, it should have said that the city
of Shushan was in consternation. What happened here? Why does the King
have a change of mind every single minute? The reason is because the Jewish
community had intermarried there because of their despair. They hadn’t
seen the holy Temple in seventy years.
We know that there was a First Temple and a Second
Temple. We have more patience and can wait, knowing that a Third Temple
will be built in just a little while longer. Perhaps we'll even merit to
have it built today, even before Shabbos. It is written that Moshiach will
not arrive on Shabbos. The Brisker Rav says that he can come on Shabbos,
and that afterward he’ll tell us how it could have been that he came on
Shabbos. Let him just come, and afterward we’ll find a logical reason of
how it could be so. We’ll do some mental gymnastics—the main thing is that
he should come. Let him come on Shabbos; let him come whenever. We’ll come
up with a reason afterward how it could be that he came.
In truth, the Chasam Sofer asks (section 6, subsection
98) why can’t Eliyahu the prophet descend directly from heaven [on Shabbos]?
A private domain includes all of the airspace above it, so let him descend
onto the roof of the Breslov shul in Meah Shearim. I’m not saying that
he should descend onto the roof of Shuvu Bonim, but let him descend onto
the roof of the shul at the very least. Let him descend directly, directly
from heaven, since a private domain includes all of the airspace above
it. He just has to descend, to land. How much is it—a million light years,
a billion light years? But he can do it in an instant. He just needs to
descend directly from heaven. This is permitted on Shabbos. Descending
directly from the airspace above a private domain is permitted. He can
descend anywhere; he’s the best paratrooper in the world. He’s always ascending
and descending. He can just drop straight down.
The Chasam Sofer answers his own question in the
negative. Eliyahu’s physical garment exists in the “lower Gan Eden,” and
this lower Gan Eden actually exists somewhere on the globe. This is what
the Rebbe says, that the lower Gan Eden exists here on the globe somewhere.
Maybe it is under the earth or under a sheet of ice somewhere. Eliyahu
the prophet has to first go to this lower Gan Eden which is a terrestrial
place, and retrieve his physical body. Once he has a body, he can no longer
come on Shabbos. If he body were in the heavens, then he could descend
straight to earth, but since his body is actually somewhere on the earth
in the lower Gan Eden, he has to first go there. Once he has a body, he
can no longer come [on Shabbos] because of the prohibition of travelling
beyond the city limits. He could do it without a body, but if he has one
he has to wait until Shabbos is over. He has to wait until Shabbos is over.
He can come to a circumcision even on Shabbos, because then he comes without
a body. But in this case, he has to come with a physical body.
This is the matter of Charvona [the servant who
was the agent of Haman’s destruction]. The entire Megilla is about Eliyahu
the prophet. Eliyahu brought Esther Haman’s original letter to see. Otherwise
Esther would not have believed him—she would have thought that he had forged
Haman’s original writing.
So Esther…“And Esther wrote.” Esther knew exactly
what was going on. She knew about how Mordechai had begun to scream, making
a ruckus, and that he had started to scream these awful screams in the
city streets. “Mordechai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and
ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and cried with a loud and
bitter cry” (Esther 4:1). Esther then immediately—when he came to
her gate—said straight away, “What happened to you, Mordechai? What, did
you lose your faith? Where is your faith, Mordechai? Wait a little bit.
Wait. And aside from that, you’re disturbing a woman in the middle of cleaning
out the chometz!”
G-d have mercy, that is the most terrible crime.
That is why I always say to everyone that getting married just isn’t worth
it. When it comes to be Erev Pesach, people begin to understand what I
mean. Otherwise a person just doesn’t understand. “What’s the big deal
that I got married?” But when Erev Pesach comes around, the screaming starts.
“Why did you walk over here? Why did you go into the bedroom with chometz?
I already cleaned it! You walked here with cookies. You went in there with
wafers. You ate here chometz, and you didn’t wash your hands. There
you did something else.” For every little move you hear, “You just finished
eating, and you didn’t clean off. You didn’t brush the crumbs off of your
clothes!” That is when a person knows that Erev Pesach is here again. He
gets burned along with the chometz. They are just getting rid of
him along with the chometz.
So just imagine it. Mordechai bursts in to Esther’s
palace right when she’s in the middle of getting rid of the chometz,
screaming, and disturbing her Pesach cleaning. Esther absolutely wouldn’t
keep quiet; she wouldn’t keep still. The Midrash on Koheles, section 2,
says that Esther wouldn’t hold still. She said to him, “Why have you come
here so suddenly, right when I’m in the middle of getting rid of the chometz?
At the most critical moment, you come in here screaming. You pounce on
me during biur chometz? I have a thousand rooms to clean, and I
have three servants assigned to each and every room. You come pouncing
on me now, during biur chometz? Where is your faith? Where is your
trust in G-d?”
Then Esther began to calm Mordechai down. She began
to calm him down. She said to him, “Why are you shouting? What happened
to you all of a sudden? Where is your faith, where is your trust in G-d?
You’re a person without faith, without trust in G-d. Hashem will help,
and there will be miracles. Go home now and get rid of your chometz
too, afterward it will be Seder Night, and after that it will be Chol HaMoed.
We’ll go on trips, and after the trips are over it will be the seventh
day of Pesach, the time of the Splitting of the Sea. Haman will drown in
the Sea of Reeds by then. The truth is that Haman did indeed drown in the
sea by the seventh day of Pesach, according to a different opinion. This
isn’t in accordance with the opinion that we are now discussing.
Esther then quoted, “’He who guards a mitzvah
will know no evil thing’ (Koheles 8:5). In the merit of getting
rid of the chometz, in the merit of Seder Night, of drinking the
four cups of wine and eating the three matzos and telling the story
of the Exodus…just like Gideon said, ‘Where are all Your wonders?’ (Shoftim
6:13). Just speaking about the Exodus can alone bring about miracles and
wonders. Afterward, it will already be the seventh day of Pesach, the Splitting
of the Sea, and he’ll drown in the sea by then. Don’t worry.” Mordechai
said, “No! You are wrong!” “You don’t know what is happening. You don’t
know what is going on in the streets. You’re sequestered in your palace
and you don’t know what’s happening on the streets. Esther, look at what
is going on outside.”
The Midrash (Esther 7:25) then explains what
was happening in the streets [that from the time when the edict was published,
the Persians immediately started threatening and attacking the Jews, telling
them that very soon now they would kill them all and take their property].
“‘The couriers went out in haste by the King’s command…and the King and
Haman sat down to drink’ (Esther 3:15). Rabbi Chanin said, ‘Anyone
who says that G-d is one who waives [retribution], may [G-d] waive [His
sustaining of] his own innards! G-d said to the sons of Yaakov, ‘You sold
your brother and then sat down to eat and drink.’” [That is exactly how
I am going to treat you and your descendants.] Just like when they sold
Yosef, everything that happens to us—in Auschwitz or Treblinka where they
shot us in cold blood, threw us into pits and buried us alive—everything
is a result of the sale of Yosef.
We are sent on death trains, just like Yosef who
was thrown into the pit. Until we repent for the sale of Yosef—and we haven’t
yet repented for the sale of Yosef—there will be people who come along
in every generation to throw us into pits and bury us alive, to shoot us
in cold blood and take us away to all kinds of crematoria. They will take
us in death trains just like they took Yosef from Dosan to Egypt, beating
him mercilessly all the way. They beat him until they reached Kever Rachel
and Yosef started to cry out, “Mother, Mother!” A voice was heard, and
the Arab’s hand suddenly withered. He begged Yosef then for forgiveness.
Everything that happens to us, all of the suffering that has been throughout
all of the generations, is because we haven’t yet repented for the sale
of Yosef. We haven’t yet repented over the sale of the Tzaddik.
We think that we’re alive. We eat, we drink, and
we have challa. Today there is a Pidyon HaBen, and we don’t
even realize that everything is because of the Tzaddik. The Tzaddik
is the one who is leading us, and he guides us. He is the one who is bestowing
intelligence and holy awareness upon us. Every motion is from the Tzaddik;
every thought is from the Tzaddik. The Rebbe said that whenever
a person sees an improvement in his prayer, it’s because of him. Every
movement is from the Tzaddik. A person thinks that he moves, and
that it’s through his own power. “Without you [Yosef], no man will lift
up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt” (Bereishis 41:44.)
Throughout the entire world, there isn’t a single person who moves his
hand or foot without the Tzaddik, without Rabbeinu HaKadosh.
Yosef the Tzaddik is manifest within Rabbeinu.
Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were all manifest within Rabbeinu. And no
person, whether Jew or gentile, [should] make a move without saying, “In
our holy Rebbe’s merit.” If something happens to a person, if he gets stuck,
he should say, “In Rabbeinu’s merit.” He should say Tikkun HaKlali,
and the car will start moving right away. Gasoline will come; everything
will come. Just like the Rebbe, when he got stuck on the road he would
say Tikkun HaKlali, and they would continue on their way immediately.
Every slightest move is only accomplished through
the Tzaddik. Until we realize that Yosef the Tzaddik lives
in every generation and he is our holy Rebbe, then they continue to take
us to Treblinka, to the crematoria. This is exactly what happened in Egypt.
They kept on preparing more and more crematoria for us. All of the German
experts are still around. They’re always inviting them to Cairo. If we’ll
have a war with the Arabs, the very first thing that will happen is they
will invite them over. “As soon as we conquer Israel, there are four and
half million of them there. Within two days we’ll incinerate them all,
no problem. Within twenty-four hours, we’ll incinerate them all.” All of
this is because of the sale of Yosef.
So Hashem said to the sons of Yaakov, [that this
was] because everything that happened here happened during a feast. There
was a banquet, a meeting where everyone ate heartily. It was during a feast
that they sat—they ate and drank, smiling and feeling good, saying that
it’s forbidden to leave a single Jew alive. [The Rav is speaking here about
the Wannsee conference where the “final solution” was officially completed.]
On the twentieth of January, 1942 [the second of Shevat, 5702],
they met and said that if a single Jew was left alive, the Jewish people
would spring up all over again and they would have accomplished nothing.
By January of 1942, they had already killed nearly a million Jews, so they
decided that they needed to [deal with] all of the six million Jews in
Europe, or [possibly] nine million, and then afterward they would go to
America and to Israel—through the entire world. Afterward, they would conquer
America and so on, that was the plan, that they should conquer America—that
they should conquer everything. They had already conquered half of Russia
by 1942. So, everything was decided over food and drink. The non-Jews sat
down to eat and drink, and they smiled as they decreed absolute destruction
upon us. That is why the Holocaust is alluded to in the letters “tav”
and “shin” which are written small in the names of Haman’s ten sons
in the Megilla [tav shin referring to the year (5)600 which is 1940].
The name “Vayzasa” begins with an enlarged letter “vav.”
They had already hanged the ten sons of Haman. [We didn’t understand this
reference to the Gemara Megilla 16b].
In this case, however, it was Jews [who were eating
and drinking and plotting destruction]. That is why the Midrash says, “You
sold your brother over food and drink.” “And they sat to eat bread” (Bereishis
37:25). You sat down to eat bread, just like that, and were happy to sell
your brother. That’s why they [the non-Jews] will always sell you out over
food and drink. People don’t understand. They think, “How could anyone
decide to implement a plan of genocide over food and drink—to wipe out
a whole people? Yet the Midrash tells us that this is how [the brothers]
sold Yosef—over food and drink. “That is what I’ll do to you,” [Hashem
says in the Midrash brought previously]. That is why they [the non-Jews]
will always sell you out with a great deal of presence of mind, over food
We’ll return now to the issue at hand. Esther said
to Mordechai, “Where is your faith?” Esther began to encourage Mordechai,
to fortify his faith. “The decree won’t be in effect for another eleven
months, until the thirteenth of Adar. By then, we’ll come up with a plan,
we’ll arm ourselves, and we’ll make our own efforts to protect ourselves
[when the time comes].” The Chiddushei HaRim says that the Tzaddikim
didn’t want this, they said, “On the contrary, the time has come for us
to die as martyrs. ‘My whole life I was troubled…’” [Esther said,]“We’ll
make our own plans. We have another eleven months!” Mordechai said to her,
“You’re making a mistake, Esther. It isn’t like that. They’re already starting
to kill Jews. You think that the non-Jews are going to wait eleven months?”
When Hitler came to power, they were already killing
Jews in Poland, in the Ukraine—everywhere. When he began to conquer those
territories, he already found people dead by the time he got there. He
already found everyone dead. The Poles had “taken care” of them.
“So, what do you think? That people will wait eleven
months? If people have gotten the green light to go ahead and kill Jews,
[do you think] they’re going to wait another eleven months [to give] you
time to work something out, to find advocates on your behalf, or to bribe
the King and his ministers? No! We have to take action now, at this very
instant. If you put off the moment, there won’t be a single remnant left
of the Jewish people. Look at what’s going on here!”
The Midrash says that if a Jew went to the fruit
store to buy a kilo of meat or vegetables, a bunch of vegetables, a Persian
would try to choke him. Anyone who would stand in line at the fruit store—Jews
would stand in line—or at the butcher’s, the Persians would come and accost
him. [They would say,] “Tomorrow we’ll cut off your heads. This is the
just the beginning. We’re just giving you time to confess before you die.
You have twenty-four hours to say your prayers, and tomorrow we’ll come
into your homes and slaughter you all.” That is what [the Persians] would
And Esther didn’t know this. Esther was sequestered
away in the palace. Mordechai said to her, “Esther, see what’s going on
in the streets! A Jew goes out to buy a bunch of vegetables, he waits in
line, and a Persian comes and attacks him. The Persian says, ‘Tomorrow,
I’m really going to kill you. Now I’m just choking you to give you a taste
of what’s to come. Tomorrow I’m really coming to kill you in your home.
All your belongings will be mine. Write your money off [as of now].”
Mordechai then said to Esther, “It isn’t like you
think, that we have time to work, to bribe the honored ministers and send
them to beg for mercy on behalf of the Jewish people. We’ll bribe them
extravagantly; we’ll give each minister a billion dollars so that they’ll
go to beg the King for mercy. Either they will manage to cancel Haman’s
decree, they will tear it up, or they will defame Haman [before the King].
Here, we haven’t got a moment to waste. You need to go into the King today.”
“Today? I haven’t had an audience with the King for a full thirty days,
and everyone knows that anyone who enters the King’s chamber without permission
is liable to the death penalty.” Mordechai said to Esther, “Do not think
in your heart that you will escape in the King’s house any more than all
the other Jews. For if you remain at all silent at this time, relief and
deliverance will come to the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father’s
house will perish” (Esther 4:13-14).
Anyone who fails to help the Jews when they are
threatened [falls under], “You and your father’s house will perish.” A
person is given some great position—he’s a minister, and he doesn’t use
his influence to save the Jews—falls under “You and your father’s house
will perish.” For every position that a person is given during his lifetime,
whether it is among Jews or gentiles, is only so that he should use it
to save Jews.
The Gemara in Chulin says that there are
thirty righteous gentiles in every generation. The Gemara in Chulin
92 says that there are thirty Tzaddikim in Eretz Yisrael, and fifteen
outside the land, so that the Jews living outside the land will have from
whom to receive their spiritual vitality. They have fifteen living among
them. Although according to Kabbala, there are thirty-six and thirty-six.
Afterward, the Gemara says that the number thirty
parallels the verse in Zechariah 11:12, “So they weighed for my
hire thirty pieces of silver.” Likewise, “So I bought her to me for fifteen
pieces of silver, and for a chomer of barley and a lesech
of barley” (Hoshea 3:2). Thirty plus fifteen—this is “chomer…and
is thirty, and lesech is fifteen. There are forty-five
who sustain the world. Thirty of them are in Eretz Yisrael, and fifteen
are outside the land. Rav Yehudah says, “What does this mean, ‘So they
weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver?’ These are the thirty righteous
gentiles who sustain the world. There are thirty righteous gentiles.” [The
Gemara attributes it to the Jewish Tzaddikim, and Rabbi Yehuda says
that it is referring to the non-Jewish ones.]
Everyone heard that Haman had dropped dead. “It
can happen that a minister has a heart attack. It can happen that a King
hangs his ministers. These things happen.” Yet, only “Esther wrote.” Only
Esther knew that there were infinite miracles accompanying her every step.
“And if I perish, I perish.” The moment that Achashverosh saw her, he immediately
wanted to kill her. Despite the fact that she was his wife, he wanted to
kill her. He also has his hour of hisbodedus, his hour when he’s
a little bit of a Breslover. One hour when he is able to sit in peace,
and here they come to bother him too? So, he wanted to kill her right away.
The angel Gavriel then came and drew forth the scepter. That was when she
saw the first miracle. His face was red from anger, from fury. “Therefore
the King was very wrathful, and his anger burned in him” (Esther
It is written in the Megilla “Therefore the King
was very wrathful.” This was because Vashti had told him that she didn’t
want to come. “And his anger burned in him” because she had said to him
that he couldn’t hold his drink, and then the wine began to burn inside
him. “You can’t hold your drink,” and then the wine really did begin to
burn inside him. “And his anger burned in him.”
When you tell a non-Jew that he can’t hold his drink,
it makes his anger burn in him. Then he really becomes angry, and it’s
then that the wine really does begin to affect him. He can’t forgive you
if you say that he can’t hold his drink. There’s no forgiveness for that.
It’s worse than killing him. It’s the greatest insult in the world.
“And if I perish, I perish.”
Esther knew then that there were endless miracles going on. Her every movement
involved a new miracle. The King could have killed her right away. She
came to disturb him in the middle of his hisbodedus. Just when he
was doing hisbodedus she came to interrupt him. She entered during
his most intimate moments, when he was sitting and getting his one moment’s
peace. [At other times,] he spent his every minute worrying that someone
was going to stab him, just like Stalin did. The more tyrannical a ruler
is, the less he can trust any of his bodyguards. He [Stalin] could not
trust anyone. He had a special villa where even his bodyguards were forbidden
to enter. They could only stand guard outside. After meals he would enter
into his inner sanctum just so that he could have an hour or two, a day
or two, a little peace of mind, because he couldn’t trust a single person.
Perhaps someone bribed his bodyguard to kill him. Just now, one of the
bodyguards in Africa assassinated the King. His own bodyguard killed him.
The kings can’t even trust their own bodyguards.
During the one moment when
he could sit in peace alone, with no one at his side—even Haman wouldn’t
enter—he would have killed him too. He saw Esther approaching, making her
way to him in such fear, such urgency. Just as we said, perhaps she wants
them to stop bombing Iraq? That’s something that can’t wait. People are
getting killed—the poor, innocent people of Baghdad. They’re starving for
bread, and people are dropping bombs on them. And Esther is such a humanitarian
woman. Maybe she wants to beg for mercy for the people of Iraq? Or maybe
she wants to stop the shelling in some other country? Who knows why she’s
come, but it must be something urgent. She can’t wait to make her request
for an appointment; it’s impossible to wait another second. It can’t wait;
it’s a matter of moments, a matter of an hour or two. Perhaps someone needs
to be hanged!
Suddenly he sees that she’s asking him, “Oh, just
by the way, perhaps [you can come to see me] tomorrow? Maybe tomorrow?”
Then you [Esther] should have come tomorrow! You could have waited until
tomorrow, and asked in a normal way. Why did you have to disturb me in
the middle here? You scared me. You scared everyone. No one knew why you
came. Did you come to kill me, or not? Even his bodyguards wanted to kill
her. Maybe she was coming to kill the King? It could happen—he’s unprotected
there without any security personnel. At any other time, he always had
ten bodyguards surrounding him.
There was a panic. Esther was in great danger then.
But perhaps she would ask again the following day for the same thing? Why
should she ask for the same thing the following day, that he should come
again the next day? Why didn’t she just ask for what she needed right then
on the spot? [The reason was that] she saw that the Jews were still fasting.
They still hadn’t finished fasting their three days. She needed to wait
until they had finished their three days of fasting so that Malchus
could be raised up to the level of the sefirot of Netzach,
and Yesod, so that Malchus could be released from the klippot,
Haman. There need to be three days of fasting, three days. “And on the
third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His presence” (Hoshea
6:2). She knew that she had to wait three days. She knew that she had to
go into the King immediately, but she also knew that Malchus hadn’t
yet ascended. The Jewish people hadn’t yet fasted enough; Malchus
hadn’t yet freed herself from the grip of the klippot, from Haman’s
For Haman is only a mirage, a scarecrow. There is
no Haman; it’s just the side of unholiness that sometimes clothes itself
in Haman, sometimes in someone else. So they hanged the scarecrow, but
his spirit remained. It returns again in every generation, it can descend
again at any moment. It is just like Shlomo HaMelech. HaShlomo HaMelech
is five times Haman at every level [as mentioned in the evening lesson].
In every partzuf (sefirotic persona), there is a new Haman.
“And Shlomo did evil in the eyes of Hashem” (Melachim I:11:6). He
built the holy Temple, but in the end, in the last year of his reign, “Shlomo
did evil in the eyes of Hashem.” He failed to subdue that last manifestation
of Haman. Some say that he returned to his Kingdom and some say that he
didn’t [see the argument in Gittin 68b as to whether or not he returned
to being king after Ashmodai threw him out of Jerusalem], because he failed
to subdue that final manifestation of Haman.
Esther knew then that her every step, her every
movement, put her in mortal danger. And now she had to ask him to a feast
for the following day. What does “tomorrow” mean? What, you want to poison
my meal? What? I’ve already given you half of my Kingdom; I’m prepared
to give you everything. Tell me, why have you summoned me? Why did you
frighten me? Why did you come in to my chamber so suddenly, without any
reason? Yet another ice cream, yet another ice cream? What is going on
here? Why did you come into my chamber all aflutter and with such panic?
That alone put her in terrible danger, and now to
ask him to come to a feast on the following day. You could have waited
until tomorrow [and asked] in a reasonable fashion, in an orderly fashion.
Esther was terrified with every move she made. Every word she said filled
her with awful fear. And her main fear was that she had to tell him that
she is a Jewish woman.
Yet the truth is that the miracles are prepared
for every person from the beginning of time. That is what Mordechai revealed
here. Mordechai revealed to Esther, “You should know, the miracles are
already prepared. They’re already prepared. You’re wondering how you will
enter, how you’ll go, and what you’ll say. But the miracles are prepared!
You just have to go.” A Jew just has to leap right into the sea. Nachshon
leaped into the sea and then it split. A person jumps into the sea—that’s
Purim! Purim is the preparation for Pesach. On Pesach, we jump into the
sea. On the seventh day of Pesach, we leap into the sea. “Hashem will fight
for you, and you should remain silent” (Shemos 17:14).
The Zohar in Parshas Beshalach says that
this means that [Moshe told them] not to make any accusation against the
Egyptians. Don’t say that they are wicked; don’t say that they are murderers.
It is forbidden for a person to make any accusation against anybody else.
One should never accuse, because everyone has been a murderer at some point,
if not in his present incarnation, then in a previous one. Every person
is suspected of murder and causes murder. Even if a person is just overly
demanding or judgmental with another Jew, it can cause the one being judged
to suffer, to become dangerously ill.
A person opens his eyes [in the street], and immediately
another Jew is murdered. He created a terrorist. He created a terrorist,
a demon, a destroying angel that then goes and manifests within some terrorist.
So instead of this terrorist blowing himself up accidentally in a car bomb
in his own village, he succeeds. Because I opened my eyes just now and
created a demon, and this demon goes and drives the terrorist, pushes him,
and helps him to pass all the roadblocks and all the checkpoints. He gets
to wherever he’s going and kills Jews. But who is the murderer? I’m the
one who killed his victims! Once a person goes to heaven, they’ll show
him that he was the killer, that he killed! They’ll show him that all of
the attacks and all of the terrorists were because he killed. This is similar
to what the Gemara says here in Sanhedrin.
“Yehoshua ben Levi—a man was killed fifteen kilometers
from his home, fifteen parsang—so he didn’t come to him.” Eliyahu
the prophet stopped coming to see Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. How was this
man killed by you, Yehoshua ben Levi, who will ultimately enter Gan Eden
with your body? How could you [have been responsible for something like
that], for Purim is the time when we enter Gan Eden with our bodies. The
defilement that clung to their bodies since Adam’s sin vanished on Purim.
That was the resurrection of the dead.
The Gemara goes on to say that the Kohen Gadol is
responsible. Everyone who prays with proper concentration is the Kohen
Gadol. If a person prays with proper concentration, then he is like the
Kohen Gadol. How could it be that his prayer didn’t protect the victim,
that it didn’t prevent the terrorists, that it didn’t stop terrorist attacks
from happening? So he is the guilty one! It is I who am the guilty one!
The Gemara then says, what is the proof that the Kohen Gadol is responsible?
The proof is brought from the case of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. Eliyahu
the prophet didn’t come to visit him for a full three days [after the man
had been found dead close to his town]. Eliyahu the prophet didn’t come
to him for three days. What is fifteen kilometers? It’s the distance between
Modi’in and Lod as the crow flies, to Lod. But today, it’s the entire country;
it’s the entire world. Because today, one can know in an instant what is
happening in every corner of the globe. A person must protect the entire
world nowadays with his prayers.
This is similar to what the Midrash says in Bereishis.
The Midrash Rabbah on Bereishis says that, today, a person must
protect the entire world. The Midrash says that Avraham begged Hashem for
mercy on behalf of fifty possible righteous men in Sedom. He negotiated
down to ten, but today, one would be enough! If there are fifty righteous
men in the city…“And Avraham approached…” (Bereishis 18:23). “Why
ten? There were already eight remaining in the world after the flood. Another
interpretation is, why ten? Avraham thought that there were ten righteous
people there in Sedom. Lot and his wife, his four daughters and four sons-in-law”
(Bereishis Rabbah, Vayeira 49:25). There was he and his daughters.
They were also incredibly righteous women; they were called tzaddekeses,
because they hadn’t yet sinned at all.
“Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rabbi Simon,
and Rabbi Chanin said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, that there had to
be ten in Sedom, but in Yerushalayim one would suffice!” If there is a
single person who prays in Yerushalayim, who does an hour of hisbodedus…[Here
in Shuvu Bonim] they organize the hours in a chain, [so that someone should
be doing his hour’s hisbodedus during all twenty-four hours] so
then it is possible to protect the entire country, the entire world—the
entire country and the entire world!
Esther knew that all the miracles are already prepared
for a person. They’re already prepared, and a person arouses the miracles
through the power of his prayer. This is what Mordechai said to Esther.
He said to her, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance
will come to the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will
perish.” The moment that Esther entered, Achashverosh had already dreamed
the dream [according to the Midrash]. Let’s says that he went to sleep
at nine and slept until midnight. He woke up every ten minutes; he woke
up six times an hour. [That night,] he woke up a total of eighteen times.
The Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni) on Megillas Esther says, “That night,
the King’s sleep was disturbed.” Rabbi Yehoshua said in the name of Rabbi
Ilai that the dream recurred a number of times. The Yalkut Shimoni says
that he kept on waking up every few minutes from a terrible dream where
Haman was standing over his head with a sword in hand poised to cut off
He would [wake up and] say, “Dreams speak of nothingness”
(Zechariah 10:2), yet the dream kept on returning. It kept returning
from nine until midnight twenty times, eighteen times. So he decided to
have the chronicle book brought in. That is why it says, “The anger (‘katzaf’)
of Bigsan and Teresh” (Esther 2:21). “Katzaf”—the truth is
that only one of them was angered. That is why Shimshi wrote, “Bigsan or
Teresh,” to get Mordechai [into trouble]. Mordechai was altogether innocent,
but this would instigate an investigation, and they would wind up hanging
Mordechai. But a miracle happened and the [writing in the book] changed
to “Bigsan and Teresh.” It split into two [the letter alef from
the word “or,” was appended to Bigsan’s name, and the letter vav
to Teresh, see Esther 6:1], but the original intention [of the writer]
had been to implicate Mordechai and get him hanged afterward [for informing
and causing the death of one innocent man]. This was the argument of [Shimshi]
the son of Haman. Afterward, he erased everything. Shimshi would erase
and the angel Gavriel would write it in again, until it came to the point
where the words “were read” [“nikraim,” which is passive], that
they read themselves before the King (Esther 6:1). They “were read”—they
So, the dream would repeat itself several times
until Achashverosh said to bring the book of chronicles. It was then that
he heard a rustling from outside. What is that rustling? It turned out
that Haman had gotten up that night for chatzos. If one wants to
succeed one must get up for chatzos. But the truth is that his wife
had said to him, “It isn’t worthwhile for you to be a Breslover. It will
only bring troubles on us. If you’ll become a Breslover, the trouble will
start. Stop being a Breslover. Stop getting up for chatzos. Sleep
properly at night.” “Speak to the King in the morning.” “Then Zeresh his
wife…said to him…‘speak to the King in the morning’” (Esther 5:14).
Wisdom is always to be found with the wife. The
woman possesses an extra measure of intuition, and good advice is found
with her. “If your wife is short, bend down to hear her whisper” (Bava
Metzia 59a). Rashi says on this, “Accept her advice” (See Likutei
Moharan I:49). In worldly matters, the woman understands things better
than the man does.
She said to him, “Don’t go to the King in the middle
of the night. It is not a good idea. Believe me, it’s no good. It isn’t
good. You think that you’ll succeed, because you’re the most prominent
minister and you’re the most honored minister. You’re the Prime Minister,
but I’m telling you as a wife that it isn’t good to go see someone in the
middle of the night. You can’t know what will happen. It’s better to wait
until the morning.” Yet he decided that, in order to attain his goal, he
should specifically get up at midnight. He didn’t have the patience to
wait until the morning. Mordechai can be hanged at midnight. Why wait until
eight in the morning? His tikkun can be arranged for him at twelve
Chatzos is an auspicious time. “Then Zeresh
his wife and all his friends said to him, ‘Let a gallows be made fifty
cubits high, and speak to the King in the morning” (Esther 5:14).
She had the presence of mind to say “in the morning.” Presence of mind
is generally to be found with the wife more so than with the husband. “…And
speak to the King in the morning that Mordechai may be hanged on it. Then
go in cheerfully with the King to the banquet.” Then you’ll be happy, truly
Someone who has left the world is truly happy. The
Rebbe says, “The dead can laugh.” When someone dies, he laughs at all of
us, so says the Rebbe. Apparently that is what she meant by the word “cheerfully.”
She was alluding to him, “You’ll be dead by tomorrow, and then you’ll get
to laugh at the whole world.” And the truth is that he did merit laughing
at everyone at the end of the banquet. Now he’s laughing at all of us.
Things are good for him now. “Then go in cheerfully with the King
to the banquet.” You’ll be happy. And she was right. The truth is that
women have the Holy Spirit [of prophecy]. “All that Sarah tells you, listen
to her voice” (Bereishis 21:12). “And the thing pleased Haman, and
he had the gallows made.” If he had really listened to his wife, who had
said to him to wait until the morning, everything would have been just
fine. But he thought that he was wiser than his wife was, and that he could
go to speak with the King at midnight.
Only Esther knew all of the miracles. If Haman had
waited to come in the morning, everything would have been just fine [for
him, meaning that it would have gone according to his plan]. He would have
hanged Mordechai before the banquet. He would have come at eight in the
morning like always. The gates would have been open for public reception
hours to receive the ministers and the Kings. “They are receiving now.”
[He could have had the King] sign with the signet ring. The fact that the
King’s signet ring was given to him was actually Haman’s idea. The whole
matter of having the King’s signet ring given over to him was something
completely unheard of. Surely there were “knowers of law and justice” in
the court. “Wise men, knowers of the times.” “Wise men” means Rabbis, and
“knowers of law and justice” are the lawmakers. In every State these things
are well organized. There are always advisors and legislators, and if someone
needs to be hanged they must find the exact subsection in the correct law.
If they can’t, then he cannot be hanged until they have time to pass a
new law. [And these things take time. One can not just turn up one morning
and have someone hanged on the spot.]
Haman saw that things were getting complicated,
so he had to take things into his own hands. The Midrash says that Haman
had three reasons for causing Vashti’s death. [But before we get to this]
the Midrash says [something else very interesting] about, “And every single
day” (Esther 2:11), in the merit of him [Mordechai] asking after
his wife’s well being. The Midrash says an incredible thing about how important
it is for a man to always worry about his wife, literally to worry about
her and make sure that everything is all right at home. Today, thank G-d,
everyone has a cellular phone. You can even call twice a day just to ask,
“How are you?”
You don’t have to be more righteous than Mordechai;
you don’t have to ask Esther how she’s doing more than once a day. Today
there are cellular phones. Say a child falls and the wife has to race to
the emergency room. If she hears that her husband is concerned, then it
gives her strength. Without that, she can fall apart. She is bearing the
load, and he’s having fun in the yeshiva. He travels to Chevron, to Kever
Rachel. He gets into fistfights with the soldiers. He’s getting exercise
[at least] in the meantime. And she, poor thing, is crying all night long
together with the baby. So anyone can make a cell-phone call about how
is Esther doing, to ask how Esther is doing, “to know about Esther’s well-being”
The Midrash says an incredible thing here. In the
merit of his asking after Esther’s well being each and every day, that
was what brought him ultimately to greatness. Hashem said to him, “You
sought the well-being of a single soul.” And he would go every day, and
he didn’t have a cell-phone. He would have to walk around two kilometers
from his house every day and enter into the most impure place in the world
with his eyes shut tight. What suffering—one could vomit just from the
smell there. And he would sacrifice his life every day just to know how
Esther was doing. He would enter into the most terrible place in the world.
“You sought the well-being of a single soul.” You went with such self-sacrifice
every single day. He didn’t miss a day. He went every day for five years,
for all the six years. It was during the sixth year that she went in [to
the palace], and during the seventh that she became Queen. During all those
years, all six years until the twelfth [year of Achashverosh’s reign],
every day, he never missed a day to find out how she was doing. “If you
act with such self-sacrifice, even if she is your wife…” This is the greatest
self-sacrifice: that a husband should inquire after his wife to know how
she is doing. “How are you doing? What’s happening with you?” He should
call her two, three times a day to find out how everything is with the
children and how everything is with her.
The Midrash says that in this merit a heavenly voice
proclaimed, “You sought the well-being of this poor woman, the well-being
of a single soul, of Esther. In this merit, you will ultimately merit to
seek after the welfare of an entire nation. You will be the leader of the
entire Jewish people. You will care for all of the Jewish people, because
you were faithfully concerned with your wife’s welfare. In this merit,
you will rise higher and higher and higher, and you will merit being the
one responsible for taking care of the entire Jewish people, seeking after
the welfare of an entire nation. As the verse says, ‘seeking the good of
his people, and speaking peace to all his seed’ (Esther 10:3).”
But all this is parenthetical. What we started to
say earlier was that Haman had three good reasons for wanting to hang Vashti.
She was such a good queen, making trouble for the Jews. Why should he want
to have her hanged? Why should he want to hang her at all? The Midrash
says that there had once been a time when she had been his superior, and
he had been her subordinate. One time, he had failed to follow her orders,
so she spent half an hour slapping him around with a sandal. He said, “The
day will come when I’ll remember this!”
The Gemara says that any Torah scholar who doesn’t
take vengeance, seething like a serpent, isn’t a true scholar. At the very
least Haman will prove himself a Torah scholar in this respect. Here, he
will retain his hatred of her forever. He’ll wait for the first opportunity
and then he’ll take care of her. And afterward, the opportunity did present
itself. What was the opportunity?
The feast arrived, this wonderful feast, and Vashti
had failed to invite his wife. So his wife started to provoke him then
too, just like Korach’s wife. This is a true example of, “A woman’s wisdom
builds her house” (Mishlei 14:1). The Asarah Ma’amaros says
that this is the wisdom of Adam Kadmon. If the wife truly merits
to offer good advice, he says in the book Yonas Ileim (Chapter 28),
the good advice that she gives is [the equivalent of] the Ten Divine Utterances.
The Megaleh Amukos discusses this on page 144, that [this level
of wisdom] is what Moshe longed to attain when he desired to enter the
land. This is the wisdom of Adam Kadmon. If the wife merits offering
truly good advice, correct advice, then her wisdom is drawn down from the
level of the wisdom of Adam Kadmon. This is the esoteric meaning
of the verse, “A woman’s wisdom builds her house.” Notice that the word
for wisdom is “chachmos.” The fact is that the word “wisdom” [in
all its Hebrew variants like “chochmah,” “chochmos,” “chochom”]
appears exactly one hundred and thirty-eight times throughout Tanach, exactly
one hundred and thirty-eight times. This number parallels the one hundred
and thirty-eight openings of esoteric wisdom. And this appearance of the
word “chachmos” with a letter vav is the one hundred and
thirty-eighth time that it appears. [The Ramchal wrote a primer on Kabbala
called “Kalach / 138 Pischei Chochmah.” In the Even-Shoshan
“New Biblical Concordance,” the 138th appearance of this word is referring
to this verse from Mishle.]
So the Asarah Ma’amaros in chapter 28 of
Ileim, says that this variation of “chachmos” with the letter
vav alludes to Adam Kadmon. If the wife merits, if she truly
merits to give good, correct, advice then her advice is drawn down from
[the sefirah of] Chochmah within the world of Adam Kadmon.
She merits ascending all the way to there, and it is from there that she
merits to draw down this correct advice. This is just like [that which
we find in Bereishis 21:12], “All that Sarah says, listen to her
All of this is parenthetic, now to return to our
subject. Zeresh wanted to give advice now too. She too had one good piece
of advice to offer: “in the morning.” A woman has to protect her husband
that he should sleep well, that he should eat well. So she said, “in the
morning.” “Get up in the morning, don’t travel with these crazy people
to Chevron or to Kever Rachel, and don’t travel to the graves of Tzaddikim.
Go to sleep. You’ll go in the morning, in the morning. And don’t wake up
in the middle of the night all of a sudden.” This was Zeresh’s advice.
She was right about this; this was actually very good advice for her to
give. But she also had her own vested interest in the matter. [The Midrash]
says that Vashti didn’t invite Zeresh to the party.
“On the seventh day, when the heart of the King
was merry with wine, he commanded…to bring Vashti the Queen” (Esther
1:10-11). She wanted to come with a Tzal-Tzal. [The Midrash Rabbah,
3:13, says that Vashti wanted to come wearing a Tzal-Tzal, some
kind of garment. But even that Achashverosh did not agree to. The Rav goes
on to explain the kavanot, the intentions, behind her desire.]
is [the gematria of] “Eliyahu HaNavi” times two. At its root,
these are all very lofty matters. She wanted to see Eliyahu the prophet,
twice Eliyahu the prophet. The gematria of Eliyahu HaNavi is one
hundred and twenty.
So why did Haman want to take vengeance on Vashti?
The Midrash quotes the verse, “And Memuchan [i.e. Haman] said before the
King…” (Esther 1:16). The Midrash Rabbah, Esther 4:6
says, “‘And Memuchan said…’ Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘There were three opinions
[as to why he wanted to eliminate her]. One says that she once beat him.
She was his superior and he failed to follow her command, so she slapped
him around with a sandal. Another opinion is that she didn’t invite his
wife to her women’s banquet, so his wife provoked him and said, “See to
Vashti first and we’ll get rid of her. She hasn’t invited me to her party;
she is already putting us down. In a little while you’ll find yourself
out of a job. The time has come to take revenge on her, to get rid of her.”’”
This was actually Zeresh’s advice, and she was in the right here too. Once
again she gave him good advice. The third reason was because they had a
daughter and they wanted her to be Queen in Vashti’s stead. It was very
simple, a very straightforward reason, a normal reason, this third reason,
that they had a daughter.
And Haman saw that things were getting complicated,
[and he wanted to have Vashti killed immediately, but] the legislators
would have to start looking into which law they were going to be able to
insert this new stipulation, that if a woman derided her husband for drinking
[for his inability to hold his drink] she could be sentenced to hang. They
would have to add a new stipulation to the law. Even when they wanted to
electrocute Eichmann, they had to draft new legislation two months beforehand
that Nazi war criminals could be given the death penalty, since there had
never been a death penalty for such crimes beforehand on the statutes.
So if you want to hang someone, you first have to add a new clause to the
law, that if a woman says…
The verse, “And his anger burned inside him,” refers
to the time when [Vashti] his wife had said to him, “You can’t hold your
drink.” But where is there such a law throughout any of the one hundred
and twenty-seven provinces [of Achashverosh’s empire], that if someone
says that a man can’t hold his drink, you can hang him? So they would now
have to add a new stipulation to the law [which means] a first reading,
a second reading, a third—changing previous legislation. And what if they
then decide not to pass the law? It could take half a year to a year at
the very least, until a new Knesset could be organized and new legislators
could be found who would agree to draft such legislation.
So he said, “Perhaps [we should] go to the wise
men?” They then went to the wise men, to the Rabbis, but they also began
to defend her. They made a calculation that if they saved Vashti, it would
be considered a great point in their favor, and she would then be obliged
to do favors for the Jews. This is exactly what had happened with the [assassination
plot against the] King. When Bigsan and Teresh plotted, why on earth should
Mordechai care whether or not this King hangs, or that they’ll poison him?
But Mordechai said to himself, “I’ll do the opposite. I’ll do him a favor.
Even though he is a wicked King, the day will come when he’ll begin to
change; he’ll do favors for us, and he’ll save us. It will be for the ultimate
good. Even if the King is wicked, even so, anyone who saves even a wicked
king profits from it. He’ll eventually be good to the Jews.”
So they came to the Sages—the Gemara in Megilla
says that “wise men” means the Jewish Sages. They made the calculation
that if they save Vashti, it will ultimately turn out well for the Jews.
Even if right now she is torturing them and making terrible problems for
them, eventually it will turn out for the best. She will be grateful. She
will have to be grateful, and she will be good to the Jews. [They might
even be able to find a good reason why she could not come to the feast.]
“What is the matter with you? Maybe it is your father or grandfather’s
yahrtzeit today? Perhaps someone from your family received a ‘command number
eight’ to go straight up to heaven? Come, let’s say that there was an urgent
‘command number eight’ and he went up to heaven in a stormwind, and it
is right now your day of mourning. Or perhaps someone was hanged on this
day, or was strangled or trampled? Let’s investigate, try to remember.”
[And she could say,] “Oh, that’s it! You’re right.
I remember now. It’s my father’s yahrtzeit! The Jews are always singing
songs about my father, and it is real chutzpah on their part. The Jews
are just dancing over his blood. This is a people that dances on another’s
blood. They are the cruelest nation on earth. That is why everyone hates
them. They’re always killing people, always hurting people. They took my
grandfather Balshatzar and made a song out of him. They made up a song
about him. They sing it on Seder night and they dance to the song. They
sing, ‘He got drunk using the holy vessels, and they killed him that night.’
Which is beside the point, since he wasn’t drunk at all. It’s all a lie,
pure libel. He didn’t get drunk; he never got drunk. He might have drunk
a thousand barrels, but he wasn’t drunk. He was the epitome of mental clarity.
My father was as mentally clear as a person could possibly be; he was the
epitome of mental composure. He didn’t get drunk at all. This is also speaking
ill of the dead—taking a dead man and making a joke out of him, making
fun of him. Drunk or not, he was always completely composed. He never got
drunk in his life. No matter how much he drank, he was never drunk. This
Achashverosh drinks a few glasses, and he’s really drunk. But not my father.”
She wanted to bring a claim against the Jews for
deriding the dead, and also for libel, and these are very serious matters.
For this alone it would have been possible to put out a decree of death,
destruction, and annihilation of all the Jews. Yet she restrained herself.
Haman restrained himself, and Vashti restrained herself. She decided to
exercise restraint. She had heard that the Jews sing such songs on Seder
night, such terrible songs—songs about the bloodshed of righteous and upright
people, and they make songs and dances out of this. Yet Vashti restrained
herself. “Now I see that my restraint might have had a good result. My
restraint all these years, my not instituting decrees against them for
making such songs about my father, such shameful songs about a righteous
and upright man who never got drunk in his life. And they even slander
him and speak ill of the dead. But now I see that it all turned out for
Ramadan is about to start now. It’s already in Kislev,
in another two years it will come out in Cheshvan, and when we first
came [to Yerushalayim] in 5742, it fell out during Tammuz. Among
the non-Jews, the holidays always move around. Until they began the civil
calendar of thirty or thirty-one days, every nation in the world had months
that moved through the seasons. And they didn’t have twelve months to a
year either, in the beginning. Only the Persians did. The Romans originally
had eight months to a year. After that they instituted ten months and eventually
they moved up to twelve. That is why they have more years than we do, because
they originally only counted eight months to a year. After that there were
ten months. Julius Caesar added the two months from eight to ten, he made
July and so on. Afterward another two months were added by Augustus Caesar.
They added another two months, and then that was the new order. Yet among
those non-Jews who follow a strictly lunar calendar, the festivals always
shift through the seasons.
That is what she [Vashti] was saying that now she
can tell the King that her father’s yahrtzeit falls in with its corresponding
date in the Jewish calendar. Here she is going according to the Jewish
calendar, and so naturally the one hundred and eighty-seventh day [of the
feast], if we make the calculation with all the months lacking one day,
falls out exactly on Erev Pesach.
Haman saw that things were getting complicated.
The matter was getting more and more complicated by the moment. Everyone
was trying to defend her. Everyone wanted to have the privilege of saving
the Queen’s life so that they could have some benefit out of it. Haman
came screaming to the King. He entered the King’s chamber and said, “Things
are not going properly at all. I myself saw the ‘knowers of law and justice’
and the Jews, and all of them—the ‘knowers of the times’ and the Jewish
people—all of them now decided that they’re going to get rich out of this.
They’re going to make a party out of this situation; they’re going to get
some benefit out of Vashti. I see that they all want to acquit her. I’m
not standing for it! If it pleases the King, let a royal commandment go
out from him, and let it be written among the laws of Persia and Medea,
so that it not be altered, that Vashti will no more come before King Achashverosh.
The King himself should write the law. ‘And let the King give her royal
estate to another who is better than she.’ (Esther 1:19).”
He said that the King himself should propose it.
Haman came screaming to the King and said, “Know, oh King, that all of
them want to trick you. All of them want to manipulate you. They want to
acquit Vashti—the lawmakers, the Rabbis, and those who know how to intercalate
the calendar.” Then he said to Achashverosh, “If it please the King…” You,
yourself, should decide the case. You, yourself, should draft the legislation.
“If it please the King, let a royal commandment go out from him, and let
it be written among the laws of Persia and Medea, so that it not be altered,
that Vashti will no more come before King Achashverosh. And let the King
give her royal estate to another who is better than she.” You, yourself,
should draft the law. What, does Haman love the King so much? What, is
Haman so concerned about the King?
No. Haman had made a two-fold calculation. He wanted
Vashti to hang, and he wanted his own daughter to be chosen in her stead.
In the end, she wasn’t chosen. And the Midrash cites reasons for that too.
And Haman would also be there to make all the decisions. He was the right
hand of the King; the King’s signet ring was in his hand. He would always
be able to sign in the King’s name whatever he wanted. The moment a document
is signed with the King’s signet [it is the law]; the law was immediately
in his hands. He was the executor. He was really a man of power. He was
the one who actually carried out the King’s words.
Everything that Haman did was only so that he could
get hold of the signet ring, and with it he would be able to sign in the
King’s name. That way he would be able to draft laws whenever he wanted,
without “knowers of law and justice,” without any legislators, without
advisors, without Members of Parliament. He could have people hanged, whoever
he wanted, without having to ask for royal leave. All this is as explained
in the book Ayeles HaShachar. Haman, himself, brought this
new law into being. It was a completely new law that was only enacted during
the third year of Achashverosh’s reign. There had never been any such law
in Persia or Medea. It was a completely new law—that the King, himself,
could decide to hang anyone he wanted without any judgement, without any
consultation with anyone else, without anyone else’s approval. The minute
that any offense to the Kingdom or the King’s honor would occur, he would
have the right to immediately hang whoever he wanted.
And this was Haman’s incredible privilege, may his
merit protect us. He merited, with G-d’s help, to make such a wonderful
Purim for us when he, himself, took the law into his own hands and said
that from now on, the King’s will is law. Meaning, Haman’s will is law.
It was through this that Achashverosh was able to command, “Hang him on
it” (Esther 7:9). And so, without a judgement, without sentencing,
they hanged him right away.
So may all of the enemies of the Jewish people hang.
And may we merit the complete redemption and the building of the holy Temple,
speedily and in our days, immediately. Amen!
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