A lesson given by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlita, on the evening of the 
14th of Adar, Purim HaMeshulash 5761, before the reading of the Megilla.

     Likutei Halachos, Hilchos Bechor Beheimah Tehorah 4:17:
     “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 Malchus 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, 15b).
    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 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, 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 Binah 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 at all.
    “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 Name.
    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., 9:27-28).
    Through true Purim rejoicing and the reading of the megilla, may we truly merit to see Mordechai and Esther in the megilla. 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, Abba, Imma, Zeir 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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Home Lessons given by  the Rav HaRav Levi Itzchak Bender, zt"l.