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37. An Article for Purim

I heard in 1948

We must understand several precisions in the Megilla [2]:

  1. It is written, “After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman.” We must understand what is “After these things,” meaning after Mordecai had saved the king. It seems reasonable that the King should have promoted Mordecai. But what does it say? That He promoted Haman.

  2. When Esther told the king, “for we are sold, I and my people,” the king asked, “Who is he and where is he?” It means that the king knew nothing of it, although it explicitly says that the king told Haman, “The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.” Thus, we see that the king did know of the sale.

  3. About “according to every man’s wish,” our sages said (Megilla 12), “Rabba said, ‘to do according to the will of Mordecai and Haman.’” It is known that where it says only “King” it refers to The King of the world. Thus, how can it be that the Creator will do as the will of a wicked one?

  4. It is written, “Mordecai knew all that was done.” It means that only Mordecai knew, since prior to that, it states, “but the city of Shushan was perplexed.” Thus, the whole city of Shushan knew about it.

  5. It is written, “for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.” Thus, how did he give the second letters afterwards, which ultimately cancel the first letters?

  6. What does it mean that our sages said, “On Purim, one must intoxicate until one cannot tell the cursed Haman from the blessed Mordecai”?

  7. What does it mean that our sages said about the verse, “And the drinking was according to the law,” what is “according to the law?” Rabbi Hanan said on behalf of Rabbi Meir, “according to the law of Torah.” What is the law of Torah? More eating than drinking.

To understand the above, we must first understand the matter of Haman and Mordecai. Our sages said about the verse, “according to every man’s wish,” meaning Haman and Mordecai. We should interpret that Mordecai’s wish is called “the rule of Torah,” which is more eating than drinking, and Haman’s wish is the opposite, more drinking than eating.

We asked, “How can it be that He would make a meal according to the will of a wicked one”? The answer to that is written next to it: “none did compel.” It means that the drinking was not coercive, and this is the meaning of, “none did compel.”

It is as our sages said about the verse, “And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look.” They said that in return for “And Moses hid his face,” he was rewarded, “and the similitude of the Lord doth he behold.” This means that precisely because he did not need that (meaning he could make a Masach (Screen) over it), hence he was permitted to receive. It is also written, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty.” It means that the Creator gives help to one who is mighty and can walk in the ways of God.

It is written, “And the drinking was according to the law.” What is “according to the law?” Because “none did compel.” It means that he did not need the drinking, but once they started to drink, they were taken after it. This implies that they were tied to the drinking, meaning they needed the drinking, or else they would not be able to move forward.

This is called “compel, and this is considered that they had cancelled the method of Mordecai. This is also the meaning of what our sages said, that that generation was sentenced to perish because they enjoyed the meal of a wicked one.

In other words, had they received the drinking in the form of, “none did compel,” they would not have annulled Mordecai’s wish, and this is the method of Israel. However, afterwards, when they took the drink in a form of “did compel,” it follows that they themselves sentenced the law of Torah to perish, which is the discernment of Israel.

This is the meaning of more eating than drinking. The matter of drinking refers to disclosing Hochma (Wisdom), called “knowing.” Eating, on the other hand, is called Ohr de Hassadim (Light of Mercy), which is faith.

This is the meaning of Bigthan and Teresh, who sought to lay hands on the king of the world. “And the thing became known to Mordecai… … inquisition was made of the matter, and it was found to be so.” The matter of seeking was not at once, and Mordecai did not obtain it easily, but after great labor was the matter of this flaw revealed to him. Once it had become evident to him, “they were both hanged,” meaning after the sensation of the blemish in it, they were hanged, meaning they removed these actions and desires from the world.

“After these things,” meaning after all the labor and the exertions Mordecai had made by the scrutiny that he had made, the king wanted to reward him for his effort of working only Lishma (for Her Name) and not for himself. Since there is a rule that the lower one cannot receive anything without a need, as there is no Light without a vessel, and a vessel is called a need, since it is not a need for oneself, how can anything be given to him?

Had the king asked Mordecai what he should give him for his labor, and since Mordecai is a righteous one, whose work is only to bestow without any need to ascend in degrees, but he contents himself with little, the king wished to give the Light of Wisdom, which extends from the left line, and Mordecai’s work was only from the right line.

What did the king do? He promoted Haman, meaning he made the left line important. This is the meaning of “and set his seat above all the ministers.” In addition, he gave him the power, meaning all the king’s slaves kneeled and bowed before Haman, “for the king had so commanded,” that he would receive control, and everyone accepted him.

The matter of kneeling is the acceptance of the ruling, because they liked Haman’s way in the work more than Mordecai’s way. All the Jews in Shushan accepted Haman’s sovereignty until it was hard for them to understand Mordecai’s views. After all, everyone understands that the work of walking in the left line, called knowing, is easier for walking in the ways of the Creator.

It is written that they asked, “Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment?” Since they saw that Mordecai persisted with his opinion of walking in the way of faith, they became perplexed, and did not know which side was right.

They went and asked Haman who was right, as it is written, “they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew.” It means that the way of the Jew is more eating than drinking, meaning faith is the rudiment, and this is the whole basis of Judaism.

This caused Haman a great disturbance; why would Mordecai not agree with his view? Hence, when everyone saw Mordecai’s way, who argued that he alone was taking the path of Judaism, and those who take another path are considered to be idol worshipping, it is written, “Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” This is because Mordecai claims that only through him is the gate to the king, not that of Haman.

Now we can understand why it is written, “Mordecai knew,” meaning that it is specifically Mordecai who knew. But it is written, “but the city of Shushan was perplexed,” meaning everybody knew.

We should interpret that the city of Shushan was perplexed and did not know who was right, but Mordecai knew that if there would be Haman’s dominion, that would be the annihilation of the people of Israel. In other words, he would obliterate the whole of Israel from the world, meaning the people of Israel’s way of Judaism, whose basis of the work is faith above reason, called “covered Mercy,” to go with the Creator with eyes shut, and to always say about oneself, “they have eyes and see not,” since Haman’s whole grip is on the left line, called knowing, which is the opposite of faith.

This is the meaning of the lots that Haman cast, as it was on Yom Kippurim (Day of Atonement), as it is written, “one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for Azazel.” The lot for the Lord means a discernment of “right,” which is Hassadim (Mercy), called “eating,” which is faith. The lot for Azazel is the left line, which is in fact considered “good for nothing,” and all the Sitra Achra (Other Side) stems from here.

Hence, a blockage on the Lights extends from the left line, as only the left line freezes the Lights. This is the meaning of “cast pur, that is, the lot,” meaning it interprets what it casts. It says “pur,” which concerns Pi Ohr (a Mouth of Light, pronounced Pi Ohr).

All the Lights were blocked through the lot for Azazel, and you find that he cast all the Lights down. Haman thought that “the righteous shall prepare it and the wicked shall wear it.”

In other words, Haman thought, concerning all the efforts and the exertions that Mordecai had made along with all who accompanied him, the reward that they deserve, Haman thought that he would take that reward.

It means that Haman thought that he would take the Lights that appear through the corrections of Mordecai into his own dominion. All that was because he saw that the king gave him the power to extend Light of Wisdom below. Hence, when he came to the king saying “to destroy the Jews,” meaning revoke Israel’s dominion, which is faith and Mercy, and make knowledge disclosed in the world, the king had replied to him: “The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee,” meaning as Haman sees fit, according to his dominion, which is left and knowing.

The whole difference between the first and the second letters is in the word “Jews.” In “The copy of the writing” (the copy refers to the content that came out from before the king. Afterwards, the copy of the writing is interpreted, explaining the intention of the copy) it was said, “to be given out for a decree in every province, was to be published unto all peoples, that they should be ready against that day.” It does not say who are destined, but Haman interpreted the copy of the writing, as it is written, “and there was written, according to all that Haman commanded.”

The word Jews is written in the second letters, as it is written, “The copy of the writing, to be given out for a decree in every province, was to be published unto all the peoples, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.”

Hence, when Haman came before the king, the king told him that the silver that had been pre-prepared is given to you, meaning you need not do anything more since “the people also [given to thee], to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.”

In other words, the people already wants to do as seemeth good to thee, meaning the people wants to receive your dominion. Yet, the king did not tell him to revoke the dominion of Mordecai and the Jews. Instead, it had been preordained that now, at this time, there will be a disclosure of Hochma, which is as finding grace in your eyes.

The copy of the writing, “to be given out for a decree in every province, was to be published unto all peoples.” It means that the decree was that it will be published that the matter of the disclosure of Hochma (is) for all the nations.

However, it did not say that the discernment of Mordecai and the Jews would be revoked, which is faith. Instead, the intention was that there would be disclosure of Hochma (Wisdom), but they would still choose Hassadim (Mercy).

Haman said that since now is the time of disclosure of Hochma, the disclosure of Hochma is certainly now given so as to use the Hochma, as who is it who does something that is not for use? If it is not used, it follows that the operation was in vain. Hence, it must be the will of God, and the Creator had made that disclosure so as to use the Hochma.

Mordecai’s argument was that the matter of the disclosure is only to show that what they take for themselves, to walk in the right line, which is concealed Hassadim, is not because there is no choice and this is why they take this path.

This seems like coercion, meaning that they have no other choice since presently there is no revealed Hochma. Instead, now that there is revealed Hochma there is room for choosing of their own free will. In other words, they choose a path of Hassadim more than the left, which is the disclosure of Hochma.

This means that the disclosure was only so they could reveal the importance of Hassadim, that it was more important to them than Hochma. It is as our sages said, “thus far coercively, henceforth willingly.” And this is the meaning of “the Jews ordained, and took upon them.” It follows that the disclosure of Hochma came now only so they would be able to receive the method of the Jew willingly.

And that was the dispute between Mordecai and Haman. Mordecai’s argument was that what we now see, that the Creator reveals the dominion of Hochma, is only so that they would receive the Hochma, but in order to better the Hassadim.

It means that now they will have a place to show that their reception of the Hassadim is voluntary, meaning they have room to receive Hochma, since now is the time of the dominion of the left, which shines Hochma, and still they choose Hassadim. It follows that they now show – by receiving the Hassadim – that the right rules the left.

Thus, the Jewish decree is the important one, and Haman claimed the opposite, that the Creator’s current disclosure of the left line, which is Hochma, is in order to use the Hochma. Otherwise, it would mean that the Creator had done something needlessly, meaning that He had done something and there is no one to enjoy it. Hence, we should not regard what Mordecai says, but everyone should listen to his voice, and use the disclosure of Hochma that now appeared.

It follows that the second letters did not revoke the first. Rather, they presented an explanation and interpretation to the first copy of the writing, that the matter of the publication to all the peoples, the matter of the disclosure of the Hochma that now shines, is for the Jews. In other words, it is so that the Jews would be able to choose Hassadim of their own free will, and not because there is no other path to choose.

This is why it is written in the second letters, “and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.” It means that the dominion that Hochma now has is in order to show that they prefer Hassadim to Hochma, and this is called “to avenge themselves on their enemies.” This is because their enemies want Hochma specifically, whereas the Jews reject the Hochma.

Now we can understand what we have asked about the question of the king, “Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?” And why did He ask? After all, the king himself had told Haman, “The silver is given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.”

(It is as we have said that the meaning is that the matter of disclosing Hochma is with the intention that the people will do as seemeth good to thee, meaning that there would be room for choice. And this is called “the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.” However, if there is no disclosure of Hochma, there is no room for choice, but the Hassadim that they take, it seems that it is because they have no choice.)

It means that all this came about because the king gave the order that now would be the time of disclosing Hochma. The intention was that the left would serve the right. By that it would become apparent that the right is more important than the left, and this is why they choose Hassadim.

This is the meaning of Megillat Esther. There seems to be a contradiction in terms here, since Megilla (Scroll) means that it is Galui (revealed) to all, while Esther means that there is Hastara (Concealment). However, we should interpret that the whole disclosure is in order to give room to choose concealment.

Now we can understand what our sages wrote, “On Purim, one must intoxicate until one cannot tell between the cursed Haman and the blessed Mordecai.” The matter of Mordecai and Esther was prior to the SecondTemple, and the building of the temple signifies the extension of Hochma, and Malchut is called “The Temple.”

This is the meaning of Mordecai sending Esther to go to the king and ask for her people, and she replied, “all the king’s servants,” etc., “who is not called, there is one law for him, that he be put to death,” etc., “but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.”

It means that it is forbidden to extend the discernment of GAR de Hochma below, and one who does extend GAR (which are three Sefirot, each comprising ten, which are thirty), is sentenced to death, because the left line causes separation from the life of lives.

“Except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live.” Gold means Hochma and GAR. It means that only by the awakening of the Upper One can one remain alive, meaning in Dvekut (adhesion), called life, but not by the awakening of the lower one.

Although Esther is Malchut, who needs Hochma, it is only by the awakening of the Upper One. However, if she extends Hochma she loses herself entirely. In that regard, Mordecai had told her, “(if) then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place,” meaning by completely revoking the left line, and the Jews will have only the right line, which is Hassadim, then “ thou and thy father’s house will perish.

In the form of “Father founded the daughter,” then she must have Hochma within her. But it must be more eating than drinking. However, if the Jews have no counsel, they will have to revoke the left line, and thus her whole self would be annulled. It is about that that she said, “ if I perish, I perish.

In other words, if I go, I am lost, because I might come to severance, as when the lower one awakens it induces separation from the life of lives. And if I do not go “then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place,” meaning in another way. They would revoke the left line entirely, as Mordecai had told her. This is why she took the path of Mordecai by inviting Haman to the feast, which means that she extended the left line as Mordecai had told her.

Afterwards she incorporated the left in the right and thus there could be disclosure of Lights below, and also to remain in a form of Dvekut. This is the meaning of Megillat Esther, meaning although there is disclosure of the Light of Hochma, she still takes the form of concealment that is there (because Esther is Hester – Concealment).

In the matter of him not knowing, it is explained in The Study of the Ten Sefirot (Part 15, Ohr Pnimi, item 217, par. “He writes”) that although it illuminated Lights of Hochma, it is impossible to receive without the Light of Hassadim, as this induces separation. However, a miracle was made where by fasting and crying they extended the Light of Hassadim, and then they could receive the Light of Hochma.

However, there is no such thing before the end of correction. But since this discernment is from the discernment of the end of correction, at which time it will already be corrected, as it is written in the Holy Zohar: “ SAM is destined to become a Holy Angel,” it follows, that then there will be no difference between Haman and Mordecai, that Haman too will be corrected. And this is the meaning of, “on Purim, one must intoxicate until one cannot tell the cursed Haman from the blessed Mordecai.”

It should also be added with regard to the words that they were hanged, that it is an indication to the hanging on the tree, meaning they understood that it is the same sin as the sin of Etz ha Daat (The Tree of Knowledge), as there too the blemish was in the GAR.

Regarding “sat in the king’s gate,” it can be added that this implies that he was sitting and not standing, since sitting is called VAK, and standing is called GAR.

[2]Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther), referring to The Book of Esther

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