Appreciating the greatness of Purim is a challenge because it seems so full of fun, partying, and dressing up. How do we connect to the holiness of the day?
Rav Salomon explains the Gemara that asks, where is Haman found in the Torah? The Gemara answers with a verse in Bereishit, “Hamin ha’eitz…, Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat?” The first word is a reference to Haman.
Rav Salomon connects this to the prohibition of baal tashchit, refraining from cutting down fruit trees. The Sefer Hachinuch explains that this mitzva is meant to develop sensitivity in us not to destroy even the smallest item. This in turn will help us relate with sensitivity to people.
Every life experience is a challenge. If a person chooses to distance himself from Hashem, he destroys himself and the world. If he cleaves to Hashem, and uses the world to serve Hashem, he and the world are elevated. Adam had free choice to sanctify the world, but instead he destroyed himself and the world when he sinned with the eitz hadaat.
The key to the simcha of Purim is understanding the two contrasting worlds of Gan Eden and egocentricity. This is found in the story of Amalek and the story of the desert food that fell from the sky for the Jews, the mahn. Amalek’s goal was to rootout every vestige of Hashem. In contrast, when the Jews ate the mahn they realized that even physical food could be elevated to a spiritual experience.
The difference between these two worlds can be found in the inner attitude a person adopts in his approach to life. Our happiness is self-generated and is in direct proportion to the amount of effort we invest in fulfilling mitzvot. Adar helps us develop an appreciation for life. It’s about focusing on Hashem rather than on yourself. There is a special emphasis on respecting others and valuing the importance of every individual. This is actualized through dressing up, mishloach manot, and matanot l’evyonim. A mask forces one to look beyond the external appearance of a person towards his inneressence. Mishloach manot is best fulfilled by sending gifts to people we don’t particularly like or get along with.
On Purim the Jews accepted the Torah once again out of joy, love, and passion. On this day we come back to Har Sinai and the Gan Eden experience. It’s a moment of closeness with Hashem that’s indescribable. The Otzrot Purim notes that mishloach manot customarily include sweets to signify that Torah is compared to milk and honey. We have milk on Shavuot and honey on Purim.
The Netivot Shalom points out that the external frivolities of the day are the satan’s way of distracting us. Those who recognize the power of Purim will use their time wisely. The gates of mercy are open on this day. Try to use every spare moment especially after the megilla reading and during the seudah to daven. It is good to recite Tehillim. Our tikun on Purim is to say to Hashem, “Adam ate from the tree, but we will be more careful. We will take this world and elevate it
and bring it closer to perfection”