A lesson given by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlit”a, on
the evening of the
14th of Adar, Purim HaMeshulash 5761, before the reading of the
Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Bechor Beheimah
“This is the aspect of the mystery of the
stretching forth of the golden scepter, for the golden scepter represents
the thirteen attributes of Divine mercy. It is the scepter of Kingship
(Malchus) —the fear of Kingship—yet it is a golden scepter, made of the
gold of the side of holiness. Gold is greater than silver, for gold is
the embodiment of the spiritual source of gevurot.”
On Purim, incredible gevurot (harsh judgements)
were revealed, gevurot that were to result in the “destruction,
killing, and annihilation” of the of the Jewish people. Yet these gevurot
were transformed into the thirteen attributes of mercy. Esther raised them
up to their spiritual source. During the three days of fasting, she raised
up to Netzach, Hod, and Yesod, and then the gevurot
were transformed into the epitome of mercy, to a greater extent even than
that which occurs on Yom HaKippurim.
Gold is the spiritual source of all the judgements
[which are manifestations of gevurot] and is on the highest level.
It is more precious than silver [which symbolizes chessed or loving-kindness],
since the gevurot themselves are an enormous chessed. That
is to say that at their source in the upper world, the judgements (dinim/gevurot)
are more precious than chessed, since judgement and awe/fear are
themselves amazing manifestations of chessed. It is precisely through
them that all the harsh judgements can be cancelled.
The more gevurot there are, the greater the
mitigation/sweetening is afterward. There were strong gevurot [hanging
over the Jewish people in Esther’s time] “to destroy, kill, and annihilate”
them. It was the very intensity of the gevurot that enabled them
to be turned into chessed during the three days of fasting.
“...the sweetening of judgements at their
source.” The Jewish people sweetened the judgements at their source.
This is the concept of the thirteen attributes of Divine mercy. The “hairs
of the beard,” [which are a kabalistic symbol of judgement], are
transformed into the “holy beard” [which has “thirteen points of rectification”].
They rose up to the level of Atik. They rose up to the “great golden
crown” which is the beard of Atika Kadisha, “the golden crown. “He
stretched forth the golden scepter to her,” and they ultimately merited
reaching the level of the great golden crown.” This is the concept of the
crown of Adam HaKadmon.
Esther personified the verse, “The wisdom of a woman
builds her house” (Mishlei 14:1). It is written in “Yonas Eilem”
[by HaRav Menachem Azaria from Pano] in chapter 28, that the “wisdom” signifies
the level of Adam Kadmon. The wisdom that Esther rose to was the
wisdom of Adam Kadmon.
This is the mystery of the stretching forth of the
golden scepter. It is an amazing expression of being drawn close. An incredible
level of knowledge and illumination is drawn down even upon a person extremely
distant from G-d. If a person experiences a great deal of gevurot,
[he must know that] prayer and fasting can transform them all into the
greatest levels of chassadim. That is why we are privileged this
year to read the megilla right after the fast [which is not usually
the case in Yerushalayim]. Through this, we can merit to attain the highest
level of chassadim that can exist, just as they merited to rise
to such levels of chassadim through their three days of fasting
during Esther’s time. It was transformed into Yom HaKippurim. This year
[in Yerushalayim], the fast and the megilla reading are close to
one another. The next time this will happen is in 5765 [and then in 5768];
after that it will happen again in 5781, then in 5785, and then in 5805.
“This is the aspect of the highest lofty level
of heavenly awe and fear. This level allows even one who is very far from
G-d to experience fear combined with G-dly awareness. This means that the
fear will bring him closer to G-d and will not drive him further away,
G-d forbid. For there are many such people who delve into works of mussar,
works that describe the intense bitterness of the punishments of Gehinom,
etc. And these people feel great fear. Yet the evil impulse then becomes
active within them and drives them to depression.”
It is forbidden to ever fall into depression. Even if a person sees the
most terrible manifestations of gevurot, it is still forbidden for
him to fall into depression.
One must know that the gevurot will be transformed
into chassadim. If a person experiences a great deal of gevurot,
[he must know that] prayer and fasting, or going to the field for an hour
of hisbodedus, or getting up for chatzos and travelling to
Kever Rachel and Chevron will allow him to see them all change into the
greatest levels of chassadim.
The Jewish people had never faced the kind of gevurot
that they did during the days of Esther, with the threat of “destruction,
killing, and annihilation” hanging over them. So if a person sees fearful
or frightening things, he should immediately fast. He should immediately
pray and cry. He mustn’t be apathetic. “So Mordechai went on his way” (Esther
4:17). [Rashi explains “went on his way” as his having “transgressed” the
Torah by fasting on the first day of Pesach.] He doesn’t even make Pesach—he
fasts on Pesach. He cries and all of the Jewish people, even little children
and babies—all of them fast. All of them cry. So it immediately changed
into something even greater than Yom HaKippurim. On Yom HaKippurim, they
didn’t fast beforehand. Here, they fasted and cried, so it changed into
something even greater than Yom HaKippurim.
“This happens through the Tzaddik of the generation.”
It is only through the Tzaddikim, who draw down the light of Moshiach.
Purim is the light of Moshiach that fear/heavenly awe draws down from the
supernal intellect. The Divine intelligence that shines on Purim is the
highest level of Divine intelligence—the level of “ad di’lo yada”
(“beyond knowing”), which is from the fiftieth gate. This is the intellect
of Moshiach. On Purim, it is possible to bring Melech HaMoshiach, who will
draw down heavenly awe with such lofty intelligence that [this fear] will
be able to influence even the worst person for the better. Even such a
person will know that he still has hope.
Many people return to Jewish observance on Purim.
On Purim, there was such an illumination that “many of the peoples of the
land became Jews.” Purim is a time when many people return to Jewish observance,
when they come to recognize the Tzaddik.
“He certainly will not fall through the fear
of Divine punishment. On the contrary, the fear of Divine punishment will
cause him to strengthen himself to find good points within himself, and
to rejoice in the fact that he is a member of the Jewish people.” This
is the secret of the golden scepter. This golden scepter is now extended
to everyone. It miraculously stretched to a length of two hundred cubits
despite the fact that there was a powerful heavenly accusation against
the Jews, and the king himself didn’t even want to extend the scepter.
Even so, the angels came and extended it [against his will] (Megilla,
So now, everyone is privileged to have this golden
scepter extended towards him. It is just at this moment of harsh judgements
and heavenly accusations and tragedies. It is exactly at such a perilous
time that this golden scepter is extended towards a person. If he follows
the path of fasting, of submission, if he humbles himself before the Tzaddik—before
the king—then on the contrary, he merits having the golden scepter stretched
forth towards him. The scepter symbolizes the thirteen attributes of Divine
mercy, and it is transformed into the light of Yom HaKippurim. Kippurim
means “like Purim.” It’s a little like Purim.
That is why cities that had walls around them during
Yehoshua ben Nun’s time read the megilla on the fifteenth, for the
fifteenth is the illumination of Yehoshua ben Nun. It is the illumination
of the fifty gates of Binah. In Yerushalayim, we are privileged
to experience the illumination of the fifty gates of Binah. It is
a higher level than that of the cities without walls, for here we merit
the illumination of the fifty gates of Binah.
Fifteen is the gematria of the Divine Name
“YaH.” “It is here that the light of the Name “YaH” shines.”
“And he came to her” (“eile’ha”) (Bereishis 29:21). This
is discussed in “Tuv Ha’aretz” [by HaRav Nosson Shapira] on page
11 regarding the phrase, “And he came to her.” “To her” (“eile’ha”)
can be broken up into the two word phrase, “to YaH” (“el YaH”).
Through Rachel and Leah, he [Yaakov] merited reaching the Divine Name “YaH.”
He merited being like the keruvim. He merited to come to “YaH”
which is Chochmah and Binah. It [indicates] the sefirot
of Chochmah and Binah within the world called Adam Kadmon.
He ascended to Chochmah and Binah through Rachel and Leah.
Yaakov ascended to the sefirot of Chochmah and Binah
within the world of Adam Kadmon. This is what one can merit achieving
during Purim. One can literally ascend all the way to the world of Adam
Kadmon, to the “great golden crown.” The Arizal says that this is Adam
Kadmon. One can ascend to Adam Kadmon.
This is why the Gemara asks what the source is for
the observance of the festival of Purim. Where does it say in the text
to observe the festival of Purim? Where does the text say that we observe
Purim in Yerushalayim? In Megillas Esther, it doesn’t say that we observe
Purim in Yerushalayim. From what source do we derive the observance of
Purim in Yerushalayim? The megilla only tells us, “Therefore, the
Jews in the unwalled cities observe the days of Purim.” “Therefore, the
Jews who live in unwalled cities observe the fourteenth day of the month
of Adar as a day of rejoicing and feasting” (Esther 9:19). Only
those who live in unwalled cities—in Bnei Brak, in Tel Aviv, or in Haifa—only
they observe Purim. There is no verse that talks about Yerushalayim. This
means only those who live in Netanya, Chadera, Hertzeliya, Rishon LeTzion,
Rechovot, Eilat, Metullah, or Be’er Sheva. It’s only there that they observe
“Therefore, the Jews who live in unwalled cities
observe the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day of rejoicing and
feasting, a holiday, and the sending of portions of food each man to his
friend.” It doesn’t say anything more than that. Afterward, the verse says:
“That they might fulfill it to observe the fourteenth and the fifteenth
days of the month of Adar…each and every year.” So, to observe Purim on
the fourteenth and the fifteenth…maybe the people living in the unwalled
cities are supposed to add an extra day?
Afterward it says that they are to observe Purim
on the fourteenth and the fifteenth, but it doesn’t say who. Who is to
observe it on the fourteenth and who on the fifteenth? “…like the days
when the Jews rested from their enemies. It was during that month that
turned around for them from sorrow to joy, from mourning, to festivity,
so that they should make them days of feasting and rejoicing, of sending
portions of food each man to his friend, and gifts to the poor. And the
Jews undertook that which they had begun, and that which Mordechai had
written to them” (Esther 9:22-23).
“But when Esther came before the king, he gave orders
in writing that his wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews
should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged
on the gallows. Therefore, they called these days Purim, after the name
of “pur” (“the lot”). Therefore, because of all the words of this
letter, and of what they had seen concerning this matter, and what had
befallen them…” (Ibid. 9:25-26).
This too is difficult to understand. They called
the days Purim, after the pur? If it’s named after the pur,
then the holiday should be called “Chag Pur.” We say “Chag Pesach,”
not “Chag Pesachim.” Even if we were to sacrifice a million Pesach
offerings—a billion Pesach offerings—we still would say Pesach, not Pesachim.
It was pur, and not Purim. There was one pur (lot). On Pesach,
we bring up a million sheep as offerings—a billion sheep—so the festival
really could be called Pesachim. But here, there really only was one pur—there
weren’t two of them. Why then do we call the holiday Purim?
The Arizal says that now we ascend to Binah.
We ascend to Binah within Adam Kadmon. Purim is a conjunction
of “pur” and “yud–mem.” Pur (286) is the gematria
of two times the Divine Name KM”G (143), which is one of the expansions
of the Name EHYeH, “I will be what I will be,” (Pri Etz Chaim,
Shaar Purim, Perek 5, p.472.) Through the Divine Name EHYeH, one
ascends to the sefirah of Binah. For one ascends to the fifty
gates of Binah on Purim. “And the two of them went together” (Ruth
1:19). Malchus [which is symbolized in the verse by Ruth] ascends
to the level of Binah [symbolized by Naomi] just like on Yom HaKippurim.
And Purim is even greater than Yom HaKippurim. Here, one can ascend to
within Adam Kadmon. “The great golden crown” refers to Adam Kadmon.
The fifty gates of Binah are the level of “Reisha di’lo Isyada”
(“The head that is not known,”) which is the “head” of Adam Kadmon.
The Gemara then asks, where is the proof that those
who live in walled cities observe Purim at all? The megilla only
speaks about the unwalled cities. There isn’t a word there about the walled
cities. The verse says, “Therefore, the Jews who live in unwalled cities…”
Haifa, Tel Aviv, Netanya, Bnei Brak…it doesn’t say anything about Yerushalayim.
It doesn’t say anything about cities that are surrounded by walls. The
Gemara (Megilla 2b) asks: “Where is the prooftext? Rava says: The
text says, ‘Therefore, the Jews who live in unwalled cities…’” Only those
who live in unwalled cities observe Purim. Those who live in Yerushalayim
can go straight home—they’re free of the obligation to observe Purim. It’s
not written about, and there isn’t any verse about them. Anyone who is
a Karaite can go straight home now. There isn’t any verse.
The Gemara continues: “From the fact that the unwalled
cities celebrate on the fourteenth, we could deduce that it is the inhabitants
of the walled cities who celebrate on the fifteenth. But could we not suppose
(‘aimah’) that the unwalled cities celebrate on the fourteenth…”
The Gemara uses the word “aimah,” meaning, “let’s just say” that
only those who live in unwalled cities celebrate Purim. “But could we not
suppose that the unwalled cities celebrate on the fourteenth, and those
who live in walled cities do not celebrate Purim at all?” Perhaps those
who live in unwalled cities don’t have to celebrate Purim at all? If we
only could find a verse that refers to those who live in unwalled cities,
“Therefore, the Jews living in unwalled cities…” Perhaps we should then
say that only those who live in unwalled cities should observe Purim. Only
those in unwalled cities like Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv, and Bnei Brak will
celebrate Purim. Perhaps we’ll say—posits the Gemara—perhaps we’ll say
then that those who live in cities surrounded by walls don’t observe Purim
“But could we not suppose that the unwalled cities
celebrate on the fourteenth, and those who live in walled cities do not
celebrate Purim at all?” The Gemara then goes on to answer this hypothetical
supposition by asking a rhetorical question. “What, aren’t they Jews as
well?” Aren’t they also members of the Jewish people? The people who live
in walled cities aren’t also Jewish? Those who live in Yerushalayim aren’t
also Jews? What, only those who live in Bnei Brak are Jewish? What is going
on here? What kind of question is this?
The Chiddushei HaRim addresses the issue of how
the Gemara even posits such a question. How could it be that such a hypothetical
supposition even came into being? How could one even hypothetically posit
that perhaps those who live in walled cities do not celebrate Purim? The
Chiddushei HaRim quotes the Gemara’s supposition that perhaps those who
live in walled cities do not celebrate Purim. What, then, is the straightforward
interpretation of why one might think that those who live in walled cities
do not celebrate Purim? Why wouldn’t those who live in walled cities celebrate
Purim? The Chiddushei HaRim says that “those who live in walled cities”
symbolize the great Tzaddikim whose G-dly consciousness (“mochin”)
is highly developed, while “those who live in unwalled cities” represent
the simple, uneducated Jews. The “unwalled,” uneducated Jews prepared weapons
for themselves, and they set up bunkers. They had eleven months to prepare
for a war which would last a single day. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto
lasted three weeks. A million Germans came to fight against sixty thousand
Jews, and the Jews were able to hold out for three weeks.
But here [during Purim], the war was only going
to last a single day. Throughout the world—the youth and the uneducated—prepared
arms and bunkers. They prepared to flee to the forests and to the mountains.
They knew that they only had to hold out for a single day, since Haman
only put the edict in force for a single day. He [Haman] was certain that
it would be overturned, that within the eleven months the edict would be
overturned. [The Rav is referring to the famous explanation of why Haman
ordered that the edict should only take effect for one day. Surely he must
have known that to wipe out the whole nation and steal their property would
take longer than that! One answer given is that he knew the edict would
be overturned, and that the Jews would make it into a holiday, and he did
not want them to have longer than a one day holiday!] In reality, the situation
was completely overturned within three days. This shows us exactly what
he had been thinking, and this is the miracle of Purim—that everything
was completely overturned within three days. After fasting and crying,
the most terrible decree imaginable was completely overturned within three
days. This is the miracle of Purim. On Pesach, it took twelve months from
the time that Moshe arrived in Egypt until the Exodus. Here, everything
was completely overturned within three days. It was here that they saw
the greatest miracle, that Hashem can overturn a harsh decree, and turn
it into a blessing within three days.
The Chiddushei HaRim says, then, that when those
in the walled cities [the Tzaddikim] heard that such a decree had
been enacted “to destroy, kill, and annihilate,” they became filled with
joy. They actually rejoiced. “All my days I was troubled with the question,
‘When will this verse, [“And you must love Hashem, your G–d…with all your
soul”] come to my hand, that I might fulfill it?’” When Tzaddikim
hear that a decree of destruction, death, and annihilation has been declared
against the Jewish people, they cry over the fate of the Jewish people
as a whole, since the nation as a whole doesn’t have the G-dly consciousness
that would prepare them for such a fate. For themselves, however, they
rejoice. They themselves are happy that, thank G-d, they have been granted
the opportunity to be like Rabbi Akiva. “No eye has seen it [this level
of Divine reward], but for You, oh G-d” (Yeshayahu 64:3). Those
who were martyred in Lod [see Taanis 18b, Rashi “Beludkia”]
those who are martyred to sanctify G–d’s Name— “No eye has seen it, but
for You, oh G-d.” Martyrs go straight to the heavenly portion of Avraham
Avinu. They dwell in the heavenly chamber of Avraham Avinu. The angel Ohr
Peniel (Sefer Limudei Atzilus, p.30) comes and takes them [their
souls to their Maker]; the very highest angel takes them. So it really
is a privilege. If a person hears that there is a decree of destruction,
killing, and annihilation, then he is actually being granted the opportunity
to rise to the level of Rabbi Akiva.
Those in the “walled cities,” the great Tzaddikim
who are surrounded by the walls of Torah, of heavenly awe, of Divine service,
only desire to serve Hashem twenty-four hours a day. They rejoiced so profoundly.
The moment that they heard that the decree had been cancelled, when they
saw that the decree had been cancelled after three days...Haman had already
been hanged. The decree was actually cancelled on the twenty-third of the
month, but in the meantime, everyone already knew that they had been given
the “green light.” They already understood that everything was about to
turn around. So these Tzaddikim felt the same fear that Avraham
Avinu had at the time of the binding of Yitzchak. Hashem said to him, “Do
not lay your hand upon the lad” (Bereishis 22:12). At the time,
Avraham Avinu said, “At least let me scratch him; I want to at least draw
a little blood, or something.” He thought that his sacrifice was being
rejected by G-d. Perhaps, he had thought something that had invalidated
his sacrifice. Perhaps, some thought of his had invalidated his sacrifice.
Perhaps, he hadn’t rejoiced enough to fulfill Hashem’s command to sacrifice
his child. [It’s as though G-d had said to him,] “If you aren’t happy,
then take him off the altar. Don’t do me any favors. I said, ‘Please take...’
(Bereishis 22:2). ‘Please take’ implies taking Yitzchak to be sacrificed
with joy, with a joyous heart.” Maybe I wasn’t one hundred percent happy?
Those who lived “in walled cities” were gripped
with anxiety. Perhaps they hadn’t rejoiced enough in G-d’s command to sacrifice
their lives? Perhaps they hadn’t rejoiced enough in G-d’s command to become
like Rabbi Akiva? Those in the “walled cities” were gripped by anxiety,
[not because of the decree] but, on the contrary, because they heard that
the decree had been cancelled. They said to themselves, “Maybe we aren’t
fit to be sacrificed? Maybe we aren’t fit to be brought as offerings? Perhaps
Hashem is rejecting our sacrifice?”
That is why one might have thought that those who
live in walled cities aren’t obligated to celebrate Purim. Those who live
in “walled cities” are the great Tzaddikim who are surrounded by
a wall: “I am a wall” (Shir HaShirim 8:10). They are surrounded
by a wall of Torah, of prayer, of hisbodedus, of chatzos,
and of praying at the graves of Tzaddikim. That was why they were
afraid. Perhaps Hashem didn’t want to accept their sacrifice, for the main
aspect of Divine service is one’s willingness to sacrifice one’s life to
sanctify G–d’s Name. “Hashem is one.” Just like sanctifying G-d’s
Name through fulfilling every commandment, even on Purim itself when, “The
drinking was according to the law, none did compel,” (Esther 1:8)
people still sacrificed themselves in order to sanctify G-d’s Name. Even
in their drinking, they sacrificed themselves to sanctify G-d’s Name. So
too, with every commandment: a person sacrifices himself to sanctify G-d’s
Those in the walled cities, the great Tzaddikim,
thought that perhaps their sacrifice hadn’t been accepted by G-d. Their
desire was only to sanctify G-d’s Name. They thought that perhaps they
might have been absolved of their obligation to celebrate Purim. A heavenly
voice then called out…that is why the text says that during the following
year they “ordained and took upon themselves [literally, ‘received’]” (Esther
9:27). During the following year they received a heavenly voice [informing
them what to do], since they didn’t know who was to celebrate Purim and
who not. They didn’t know whether the unwalled or the walled cities
were to celebrate, or how. So it was during the following year that a heavenly
voice proclaimed…that is why “they ordained and took upon themselves [‘received’]
and upon their seed and upon all who joined themselves to them, that they
should unfailingly keep these two days according to their writing, and
according to their appointed time every year. And that these days should
be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every
province, and every city. And that these days of Purim should not fail
from among the Jews, or the memorial of them perish from their seed” (Ibid.,
Through true Purim rejoicing and the reading of
the megilla, may we truly merit to see Mordechai and Esther in the
May we merit escaping from the impure husk (“klippah”) of Haman–Amalek.
We must at all times cry out to G-d to escape from the impure husk of Haman–Amalek.
We must do it every moment until the end of our lives. That is why “The
King Shlomo” (“HaShlomo HaMelech” = 475) has the same gematria as five
times “Haman” [5 X 95=475. This idea is explained further in the morning
lesson]. This multiplication by five alludes to the five Partzufim,
[the sefirotic personae: Arich Anpin,
Anpin, and Nukva]. This is to drive home the idea that at every
level, at every moment, one confronts the impure husk of Haman–Amalek.
Haman lies in ambush for every single person.
A person might say, “I’m already a tzaddik.
I have a beard that reaches the floor, and I get up for chatzos.
There’s no tzaddik like me.” Yet Haman lies in ambush for a person
in every corner and at every point. We haven’t hanged Haman yet. We haven’t
yet hanged the real Haman. We hanged Haman’s body, but we have yet to conquer
his spirit. Only Melech HaMoshiach will conquer Haman’s spirit, for Haman
lies in ambush at every corner, at every point.
The moment that we merit to read the megilla with true joy, with
true heavenly awe…
In Uman, they used to weep when the megilla
was read. They stood in a state of fear and trembling [like] Yom HaKippurim,
trembling and sweating. Right now it is just like standing at Sinai, and
afterward we rejoice. Afterward, we have three days of rejoicing. We’ll
say “Al HaNissim” on Shabbos, and one must keep in mind the mitzvos
of Purim, [including] giving money to the poor, while reciting the blessing
“Shehechiyanu.” Tomorrow morning, we will say “Shehechiyanu,”
and one must bear in mind the money that you will be giving to the poor
as well, and the “Al HaNissim” that will be said on Shabbos, in
addition to the festive meal that we will be eating on Sunday.
We are privileged to celebrate Purim HaMeshulash
(“The Triple Purim”) this year. Yerushalayim will celebrate three days
of Purim. On the contrary, the walled cities now merit experiencing three
times the light, to subdue Haman at all the levels. We rise to the level
of Chochmah, Binah, and Da’as of Adam Kadmon.
[These three sefirot are hinted to] in the three days of Purim.
In Yerushalayim, it is possible to reach the level of the “great, golden
crown,” up to the Keter of Adam Kadmon. Then we will truly
merit seeing Melech HaMoshiach and the building of the Holy Temple, speedily
and in our days, immediately. Amen.
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