Purim: Your Chance to Win the Lottery

7 03 2012
Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum 

The Likute Maharan notes that there is a deep connection between Purim and Parshat Parah. Both are related to the root word pur, a lottery.

A lottery is something beyond understanding. Teshuva is beyond logic. In this world, if a person sins and confesses, his punishment may be lessened, but he is still penalized. But with repentance, if a person repents, not only are his sins erased, but they turn into merits. The kohen gadol’s task on Yom Kippur was to bring down the awesome power of repentance by drawing lots. The lottery determined which goat would be sacrificed and which would be thrown off the cliff.

There are fifty levels of impurity and fifty levels of purity. The fiftieth level of holiness is keter, which was never revealed, except on Yom Kippur when the kohen gadol drew lots.

During the Babylonian exile, klal Yisrael sunk to the fiftieth level of impurity. They lost their Jewish identity. Amalek, the root of all impurity, represents this lowest level of evil. Their hatred of klal Yisrael was beyond logic. When the Jews sinned, they gave power to Amalek. We see that Haman, a low advisor, soared to the highest position in the royal court. He convinced the king to decimate the entire Jewish nation. Before he would follow through with his plan he devised a test. He encouraged Achasheveirosh to make a feast. It was optional, nobody was forced to eat or drink but the Jews came anyway. This was the proof Haman was waiting for. The Jews had sunk to the lowest level.

Mordechai understood that they needed to repent. He led the people in fasting and praying. Esther too cried out to Hashem, “Keili lama azvanti,” (Hashem why have you abandoned us). Klal Yisrael were spiritually depleted. Esther beseeched Hashem, we are bereft of our Jewish identity, bring us back. Hashem accepted her heartfelt prayers and revealed to them the 50th level of kedusha. He removed us from the point of no return and helped us regain our identity.

On the 13th of Adar, the non-Jews opened the letter Achashveirosh had originally sent. They knew the Jews could defend themselves so they did not venture to fight them. Amalek, whose hatred is illogical fought anyway and the Jews defeated them. This great miracle revealed the 50th level of holiness. As soon as Klal Yisrael repented, Haman fell.

Similarly, the whole process of the para aduma (red heifer) is beyond logic. If a person became spiritually contaminated, the kohen would purify him by sprinkling the ashes of the red heifer. But the kohen would then become impure. This teaches us that there is much more beyond human comprehension. When we are meritorious, Hashem reveals it to us.

Every year on Purim the great light of keter comes down. There is an incredible level of clarity and an understanding of who we are. Purim is greater than Yom Kipppur in some ways. Hashem gives us the capability to reach awesome heights. May we merit to utilize the day to the fullest.





An Invitation To Hashem’s House

11 10 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shoshie Nissenbaum

An Invitation To Hashem's House One would think Sukkot should have been after Pesach, when Hashem took us out of Egypt. That was when the Jews dwelt in sukkot in the desert. Yet the holiday comes close on the heels of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It is as if Hashem says, “You invited me into your home, now I will invite you into my abode.”

 

Sukkot contains an aspect of the world to come. For one special week we merit to dwell in the shade of the Divine Presence. The halachot (laws) of this special mitzva help us understand how to come closer to Him. Everything in the physical world has a form and shape, something that gives it borders. Holiness, however has no boundaries. Just as Hashem is expansive and fills the world, spirituality has no limits. The sukkah‘s width is boundless. This teaches us that everything in the world can be included within the framework of kedusha (sanctity). We sleep and eat and spend the greater part of our time in the sukkah as a way of showing Hashem that all physicality can be sanctified for Him. Yet the walls of the sukkah cannot be higher than twenty amot because the boundaries of kedusha require a vessel.

 

The Ramchal in Mesilat Yesharim writes that a person can make himself into a mishkan (tabernacle) for Hashem. Just as the mishkan traveled from place to place, a person can connect to Hashem wherever he is. The more a person attaches himself to Hashem, the more he transforms himself into a dwelling place for Him. On Sukkot we take everything we have and place it within the firm boundaries of the sukkah walls and elevate it for Hashem.

 

Sukkot comes after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, days of tremendous closeness to Hashem. On Rosh Hashana we pray for sustenance, life, good health, children and a sweet new year. The sweetness is the aspect of uplifting what we have for Hashem. On Sukkot we actualize this by inviting Hashem into our homes and hearts.

 

The Gemara says that the merit of building the walls of the sukkah drives away both our physical and spiritual enemies. The sukkah protects us. It must have more shade than sun. Sun represents the power of the nations. It never changes or grows. We are compared to the moon, which constantly experiences renewal and rebirth.

 

Sukkot is a tremendous opportunity to store up kedusha and tahara (purity). This is why it is called zman simchateinu. This is what eternal joy is about.