Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Posts tagged ‘Purim’

The Key to Kedusha

We’ve just landed from the heights of “the ultimate knowledge is not knowing’ of the holy Megila with its astonishing miracle and the beaming kedusha of Mordechai and Esther.  Only yesterday we were flying beyond creation … and then the wine and whiskey faded.  We may have even forgotten that in the beginning of this week we were at such exalted place.

But something profound happened to us on Purim.  We touched a totally pristine truth.  For a few hours, we returned to a sweet innocence and touched the inner core of totally clean emunah.  If it wasn’t that time was passing and errands were beckoning, who in his right mind would want to leave such a holy world and return to the grayness of this everyday life?

We all wish to touch that longing and purity.  No one wants to return to the numbness that envelopes the heart.  No one in his right mind wants to plunge into the indifference and fatigue of the weekday all over again.  On Purim we tasted purity, spirit, and deliverance from the yokes of doubts.  We had a respite from a world of temptations and lusts.  We got a timeout from nagging fantasies.  We don’t want to leave that place.

But where can one find ropes that will keep our hearts and minds tied to the kedusha of Purim?  How can we remain connected to the peak of freedom while we wallow in the mud of incoherence and malice?

When the mind is clean, the holy thoughts can maintain the memory of the holy days and continue the connection even as the days propel us forward.  A spirit of defilement builds an iron curtain that creates fantasies that sever the cord of memory to the kedusha.  This is what brings us to numbness and oblivion.

A secret called “Parah”

During the time of Beis Hamikdash we had a way to extricate ourselves from defilement by using the mysterious ashes of a red heifer.  After being purified the soul shed the dense screen of blindness and apathy and was filled with a new, fresh spirit.  Today, more than at any time in history, we need that ash.  Being that the Torah is eternal, that miracle cure must be found in some fashion today as well.  Undoubtedly, Purim is the key.

In lesson 74 Rebbe Nachman explains that the spiritual road to Pesach emerges out of Purim. מפורים נעשה פרה  – “Purim becomes ‘Parah’ (heifer)”.  Heifer is the quintessential symbol of purification and it begins with Purim.

The Mitzvah of the red heifer is still a totally unfathomable mystery.  Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of men, said: “I thought I have become wise (i.e. I will understand the secret of the red heifer) but it remains far from me.”   Spiritually, this is where the miraculous potency of the ashes of the red heifer lies.  It is to be found where the human intellect, with its multitude of questions and swirling doubts, cannot reach.

When the human mind encounters a question it cannot solve, it gets stuck and becomes clouded up.  This is the main reason for lethargic prayers.  You see, the world is filled with unanswerable questions and riddles.  It is not possible to comprehend the ways of the Divine.  So, sometimes we are filled with a subtle (or not so subtle) suspicion that ‘something isn’t right’ about the way Hashem runs the world.  When such thoughts enter the heart, we feel insulted, wondering: “Hey, why don’t things go my way?”   Everything seems to be going wrong just to spite me!  A heavy distrust creeps into the heart that things are somehow smoother and easier for people who are far from the service of Hashem.

The result is a clogged heart, which makes prayer so very hard.  In lesson 55 Rebbe Nachman talks about the heart being twisted, which blurs emunah and prayer.  A warm prayer can only come from a heart that is straight and simple.  The apex of emunah is the clear knowledge that Hashem is absolutely just.

The cure for the spirit of defilement is the ashes of the red heifer.  Purity can be found only in the lap of the unknowable. When you don’t insist on understanding, you do not fear questions.

Renewed With the World

The days of spring are fast approaching.  A person who seeks Hashem wishes to go to the field and renew himself among the plants and trees with fresh prayer and song.   A prayer invites the soul to renew itself to be set free from the jail of materialism and the madness of the flesh.  The heart calls for Hisbodedus … unfortunately, reality doesn’t always agree…

Renewing prayer suddenly becomes a battle.  Disturbing foreign thoughts squeeze the energy out of you to the point of exhaustion.  Humiliation and pain flood you from within and from the world around you.  Your prayer is crowded with a thousand thoughts of silliness and insanity that drive you clear out of your mind.   This is where you need the ashes of red heifer –  The secret of not asking anything and taking it all in your stride.

If our prayer didn’t go the way we wanted it to, trying to understand why it happened will only make it worse and actually drive us away from our goal.  Soon a suspicion permeates the heart after a failed Hisbodedus that things will not improve in the future either.  This results in a loss of many hours you could have spent praying.  The insistence on understanding can be the source of all defilement.  Demanding an explanation for every failure throws an opaque screen before the light.  The foundation of simplicity is that whatever transpired happened for a reason.  Hashem knows what He is doing – move on.  This is the secret of stability and permanence.

Kedusha is predicated on stability and consistency.  Consistent learning and Hisbodedus schedules are the building blocks of your eventual personal sanctity.  To achieve this consistency you need to dismantle the roadblocks that bar your way – and the greatest one of them all is the insistence on understanding the reason for failures and difficulties.  Stability and consistency in kedusha means adhering to the correct schedule and regimen even if it seems to go ‘all wrong’.  You add one grain of goodness to another and build an edifice of kedusha.

Clear-headed simplicity is the key.

 

 

Advertisements

Preparing for Purim – Part I

Question:

What is the proper way to prepare for the upcoming holiday of Purim?

Answer:

Reb Nosson said that when one cries out to Hashem in prayer for thirty days prior to Purim, “Save me from the evil forces of Haman and Amalek,” a person can merit seeing Mordechai and Esther during the reading of the Megillah (some say that he said forty days).  But the point isn’t to keep count of the days of saying “Save me…”. The idea is to motivate oneself to perform the Mitzvah of blotting out Amalek, through understanding that Amalek is a real force which stands over us and tries to destroy us. It’s similar to what Reb Nosson said that he sees Amalek standing over him with a metal stick. As much as we internalize who Amalek is, we will be able to ask Hashem and scream out to Him that we should be saved from him.

To prepare for Purim is by identifying with entire story of the Megillah of Esther and Amalek and reading it into our own daily lives, not to see it just as a story which happened many years ago. This is an important teaching of the Rebbe: to interpret every idea onto ourselves. When reciting Tehillim in which Dovid HaMelech screams out to Hashem to be saved from those who were pursuing him, we are supposed to interpret it onto our own situation with our own Yetzer Hara which is chasing after us. The same thing is by mourning at Tikkun Chatzos about our own personal “Destruction of the Beis HaMikdash”.

On this note the Tzaddikim explain the Mishna, “Whoever reads the Megillah backwards doesn’t fulfill his obligation” to mean that whoever reads the Megillah as if it’s a story that happened once upon a time – backwards – hasn’t fulfilled his obligation. The main thing is to concentrate on the “In those days in this time”, on what’s happening in our times.

Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender used to relate how in Uman they had to stop the Megillah reading several times because of all the noise of the congregation’s crying.

Therefore it’s self-understood that before Purim the main Avodah and the right way to prepare is by indentifying Amalek well, and crying out to Hashem to be saved from his dangerous hands. The more one prays, the more he will be able to feel the holiness of Mordechai and Esther when the Megillah will be read.

It’s therefore also appropriate to study these days the teachings of the Tzaddikim about Purim in order to understand what Amalek is (or at least one point of it), and to gain knowledge of what the holiness of Mordechai and Esther is. Since he knows what he’s asking for he will then be able to cry to Hashem better.

Question:

When I just think about my personal Amalek, I immediately give up from ever conquering it. I wonder if there’s any hope in this long conflict.

Answer:

Amalek can let a person identify with the first half of the story of the Megillah, which tells about Klal Yisroel falling to enjoying Achashverosh’s feast and Haman’s decree. But he then makes us forget about the beginning of the miracle of ‘that night the king’s sleep was disturbed’ – referring to the King of the World. This is the part which tells us about the miracles and our hope. Amalek doesn’t want us to realize how much Hashem ‘disturbs His sleep’ so to speak, in order to bring us closer to Him from wherever we are, until in the end ‘it turns over that the Jews rule over their enemies.’

The same way we have to understand that Amalek is inside our hearts and we have to fight him, we also have to recognize and identify with the miracle of the Megillah. These days, as we enter into the month of Adar, it’s a Mitzvah to increase in happiness, meaning to awaken a new hope within ourselves. A new flow of Divine assistance is coming down now to help us fight Amalek.

This is also the reason for the Fast of Esther. Unlike other fast days which are in commemoration of troubles which befell us, this fast is in memory of the miracle, in order to remember that Hashem listens to all of our prayers.

This is the wicked ability of Amalek, who stands at the top of all malevolent and impure powers: to demonstrate for a person that he is so great that it’s impossible even to begin overpowering him. (Hil’ Birchas HaReiach 5)

Amalek is very tricky. He starts by approaching a person in a way that he shouldn’t realize it – in an unrecognizable manner. But even after a person wakes up to discern who Amalek is and that he must be obliterated, Amalek puts on a new outfit: despair, small mindedness. He throws person into a fear in order that he shouldn’t realize his own strength. He makes a person imagine as if Amalek is something so big that we can’t even start dealing with it. He reminds us of all the years that we have already cried: “save me from Haman and Amalek …” and it still seems as if we haven’t even begun to see any form of salvation.

Even more, not only does he cause a person to give up, he also mixes himself into a person’s psyche in a fashion that it’s difficult to make him out. A person imagines about himself that his whole essence is anger and earthly desires. He doesn’t grasp that this is not him at all but the Amalek which has attached himself to him. A person himself is a part of Klal Yisroel, a Yiddish soul whose source is from the Heavenly Throne, pure and holy and entirely removed from sin.

This is ‘remember what Amalek did for you’, to remember that Amalek has done all of this to you and this isn’t you. Through identifying the enemy, you will awaken within yourself the ability to cry out and the strength to fight him.

The truth be told, is that it is impossible to totally conquer Amalek until Moshiach comes. Then, Hashem’s name will be revealed throughout the universe, and all evil will be null. Amalek is this material world which hides Hashem. It’s therefore understood that we can’t totally erase him, because then the whole universe would be null.

It is important to know that the war with Amalek is fought little by little. The main Mitzvah is to remain persistent in battle, not to put down the weapon and surrender (Hil’ Shabbos 6). This is the Torah’s commandment to remember what Amalek has done to us. The way we erase Amalek is by remembering that Amalek exists and that he only wants that we shouldn’t realize that he exists.

Keep strong ‘to proclaim that all who hope in you will not be shamed, and all who take refuge in you will never be shamed’.

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Purim – Part II

Question:

Purim is coming up, a day of which the Zohar teaches is holier even than Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is only ‘like’ Purim, Ki-Purim. But I ask myself, how do I fit into this holiness?

Answer:

The Rebbe reveals in Likutei Moharan II 74, “Now, all beginnings are from Purim.” For this reason the holiday of Purim takes up such an important position in the internal Avodah of Breslover Chassidim.  No matter if the whole year has passed in such a way that today we don’t feel any connection with Purim, still, on Purim there’s a special opportunity to catch a glimpse of what’s going on inside the holiness and to enter inside. We have witnessed many people who became close to holiness through seeing the wonderful light which shines by Breslover Chassidim on Purim.

Tzaddikim would say about the Halachah, “Whoever stretches out his hand [for charity on Purim,] is given.”  That on this day Hashem sends down immense spiritual gifts for every individual without looking to see if they deserve it or not.  On Purim, prayer is elevated to the level of “a home” (see Likutei Moharan I 10), to be a perfect prayer through which anything can be accomplished, especially the main, eternal victory which we are all so much hoping for- to merit closeness to Hashem, to attach ourselves with Him.

The Ariza”l revealed that there is no revelation of holiness throughout the year as much as there is on Purim, not on any Shabbos or other holiday. On Purim the highest level of spiritual light, the revelation of the Tzaddik’s great light comes down into our material world.  Certainly, whoever is connected to the Tree of Life, and the whole year awaits and longs to come close to Hashem, will use this awesome day to its fullest. This day is the opening, the beginning.

Question:

I want to understand why we need to fast on Taanis Esther if it’s only in commemoration of the miracle?

Answer:

It is understood from Likutei Halachos as well as other holy books that a great part of Purim’s light depends on Taanis Esther.  Now is the main war with Amalek and Haman.

We have to realize that the battle with Amalek is the beginning of the war with the Yetzer Hara. Amalek is not just another materialistic desire or spiritual trial. Amalek wants to uproot the point of holiness within every Jew’s heart.  He will then be more dead than alive, without any desire to serve Hashem. The way he worked is by throwing us down in the issue of the desire for food by Achashverosh’s feast. Through unholy eating a person’s heart cools off and he loses all of his good desires, as the Rebbe teaches in many places

Therefore, on Taanis Esther, which is a day of battle, there is special divine assistance to be victorious through the following two ways:

First of all, through not eating, and strengthening one’s longing and desire for Hashem, that his entire internal wish is only to be attached to Hashem and do His will, and he doesn’t want to be drawn after food. Through this he can rectify all that he’s blemished through his desire for food, which is the aspect of Achashverosh’s feast (Likutei Halachos Purim 2).

Secondly, through prayer and calling out to Hashem with all your heart.  Taanis Esther was established in order that we remember that Hashem sees and hears every person at his time of pain.  Therefore, now is the time to uproot Amalek which is trying to sow doubt in our hearts as if Hashem isn’t listening to our prayers. We have to wake ourselves up with fresh enthusiasm to set aside time every day to speak to Hashem and to tell Him all the difficulties which we have in Avodas Hashem, to say a lot of Tehillim and Likutei Teffilos, with a strong faith that Hashem is certainly listening to every word and that no Tefillah goes to waste. This is the great joy of Purim which is in the revelation of the fact that Hashem listens to all of our prayers. (Likutei Halachos 4)

Question:

What is the Avodah of the night of Purim?

Answer:

1] Maariv and the reading of the Megillah:

You should know that from the moment that Maariv starts, the awesome and wonderful light of Purim begins to shine in the world. This is a light which can give everyone a taste of the pleasantness of Hashem’s light.  It is therefore appropriate to put extra effort into concentrating during Maariv and to think about the wonderful kindness of Hashem.  You will thereby prepare yourself for the first Mitzvah of Purim – the reading of the Megillah.

The Ariza”l says that Megillah comes from the root of “giluy” – “to reveal”. Meaning that through it there is a revelation of such an understanding that brings awe of Hashem into our hearts with a wonderful perfectness. This light is now shining down below in places where it is not revealed throughout the year. We therefore spread the Megillah out like a letter. This is the miracle of Purim which renews itself every year.

Pay attention to the story of the Megillah as it’s being read. The story has the ability to wake us up from our sleep (Likutei Halachos Purim 1). Try standing by the Megillah as if by Matan Torah, with awe and trepidation (Likutei Halachos Bechor Behema Tehora).

When we read the Megillah, and publicize the miracle which was done through Mordechai and Esther who acted with great wisdom and holiness, we show and shine their ‘faces’ from within the Megillah, and it is as if we see them and look at their faces (Tefillin 6, Otzar HaYirah Purim 5).

2] Chatzos:

If the whole year the time of Chatzos is a special time, of course on Purim it’s even greater. The main Avodas is to wake up properly, to strengthen yourself with faith that Hashem is taking pleasure now with the souls of Klal Yisroel and is sending down limitless spiritual bounty. Try connecting with it through prayer.

Even if it seems as if you are distant from all this, know and remember that now is a time that you can go before the King even improperly, and to put yourself into davening with Mesirus Nefesh: whatever will happen, I will try no matter what.  Strengthen your belief that Hashem loves you no matter what you are, and the King will put out his scepter…

It is therefore advisable to go to sleep early in order to have the strength to get up in middle of the night or at least before dawn, to speak to Hashem.

Who is Victorious? …

The war against Amalek, which represents the war against the Evil Inclination, is an extremely long battle. The main way in which Amalek is subdued is through encouragement – that no matter what a person endures during his entire life, he be extremely determined to not allow himself to become discouraged. “And if I make my bed in hell, behold there You are” (Tehillim 139; 8). Even from there, one should call out and scream to Hashem from the depths of one’s heart, as the verse says: “From the belly of Hell I cried out” (Iyov 2;3).This is the main path of teshuva that we work to draw upon ourselves during the awesomely holy days of Rosh Hashanah, The Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur. This is the main victory in the battle that we are fighting during these days.

As long as a person does not despair, and strengthens himself to begin each time anew no matter what, he is already called victorious. This is because it is impossible for a person to defeat the Evil Inclination on his own, as our sages taught: “Without Hashem’s help, he could not overcome him” (Sukkah 52a), and as the verse states: “Hashem does battle with Amalek…” (Shemos 17;16). A person’s obligation is to strengthen himself anew each time and not to allow himself to retreat from this battle in despair no matter what. This is alluded to in the words of the Holy Zohar: “Who is Victorious? He who holds the weapons of battle in his hands” (Tikkun 13).  In this battle we certainly do not yet see who has won, for the war is still greatly prolonged, the exile is strengthening and each person is experiencing his own difficulties. However, as long as we hold our weapons in our hands – and our main weapon is prayer, as we have explained elsewhere (Likutey Moharan, lesson 2) – we are certainly being victorious. For as long as one does not despair and strengthens himself in prayer and screaming out to Hashem, he is called triumphant, for this itself is victory. (Likutey Halachos, Shabbos 7, section 54)

During this time of year when the days of Purim are approaching it is our obligation to adhere to the teaching of our sages: “When [the month] of Adar arrives, we increase our joy”. The simple reason for this added level of joy is that we merited to do battle with Amalek and to fulfill the commandment of: “You must eradicate the memory of Amalek”. Indeed, in these days we escalate in joy, in a manner far supreme to the rest of the year, to the extent that on Purim we express this great joy in an unusual way. All this is in celebration of the wondrous victory against Amalek.

This is seemingly hard to understand, for after all is said and done we are still in exile and the klippah (evil force) of Amalek still assaults us every day in many different forms. Who amongst us can say that we have truly merited eradicating the name of Amalek? How then can we be so quick to rejoice?

The truth is that this itself is the very answer. This is because the war with Amalek is unlike all other battles in which one destroys the enemy and simply celebrates victory. This war is an ongoing battle and as long as the physical world as we know it exists, Amalek remains. Amalek is the existence of the concealment of G-dliness that rests upon the world. It is a brazen and defiant force that attempts to discourage and subdue our uprising against it. Even if we merited defeating him a number of times, he immediately returns to battle in a renewed effort to overcome us. His aim is to cause us constant confusion and to ensure that we remain with many failures – this is the kilppah of Haman Amalek.

His entire ambition is to remove every last drop of holy desire from inside us, to crush us completely. Now we can understand the ‘extreme’ way in which the Torah relates to Amalek, commanding us to remember that we must annihilate him, “Do not forget!”

What this practically means is that  our victory in this battle is gauged by how much desire we still have to continue fighting, to get up after a stumble and to keep yearning to come close to Hashem – This is victory.

This is what the Zohar teaches about the Lulav and Esrog we hold in our hands on Sukkos – it is the symbol of our victory against the Klippah of Eisav that threatened us on Yom Kippur.  “Who is Victorious? He who holds the weapons of battle in his hands” (Tikkun 13). At first glance we would have thought the exact opposite, surely when the battle is over one would resign his weapons and not continue to grasp them? Is the holding of these weapons not the greatest sign that the war is NOT over! However, as we have explained, Amalek’s entire aim is for us to surrender and as long as we clasp the weapons of war in our hands we are truly victorious.

In light of this it is truly fitting that we renew ourselves with ecstatic joy and celebrate Hashem’s wondrous miracles, that we are still fighting, that we want nothing more than closeness to Hashem, and most of all – that He wants nothing more than us …

 

 

The Purifying Effect of the Red Heifer – A life of Divine Providence

The night of the Pesach Seder, a little after midnight, Reb Chaim sits in the company of his family around a table laden with silverware and delicacies. His eyes are becoming heavy and making their way with great difficulty through the text. Nishmas, Hallel, Hodu La’Shem, one page after the other. He is struggling to articulate the words of the story; they seem heavy, as if each one weighs a ton. He searches for a melody to arouse his heart but this too evades him. A sigh of distress escapes from inside him: ‘what’s happened to me, what is missing? I prepared so well and performed all the Mitzvos meticulously, nothing was missing, neither physically nor spiritually…’

The truth is that from the very commencement of the Seder things weren’t going smoothly. The heart simply refused to take part and nothing in the story touched him in particular. He sincerely tried to do what he could, made use of insight, searched in the commentaries for an idea – something to create a connection. Yet his heart only sank even deeper – it just wasn’t interested and nothing seemed to speak to it. When nothing happened by Kiddush, Reb Chaim was sure it would come by the telling of the story and when nothing got moving there either, he placed his hope in the eating of the Matzah – surely then, at such an auspicious moment, something would happen.

When his heart refused to budge even then, Reb Chaim raised his hands in despair; until now he was somewhat patient but what the continuation of the story after Benching demanded of him, was just too much. The songs and praises appeared one after the other as if they would never end. ‘Seriously,’ he bitterly thought, ‘what do they want from me? I have no connection to all this – it doesn’t speak to me – I’m just not in the right frame of mind for this whole celebration.’

Suddenly a more logical thought entered his mind: ‘where did this whole story begin, wasn’t it by the actual exodus from Mitzrayim? The original Pesach was a result of the Jews leaving Mitzrayim.  They experienced firsthand the suffering and the miraculous redemption that followed, they surely rejoiced with all their hearts. If I would have seen the ten plagues and splitting of the sea, I too would have sung the songs and praises with tremendous liveliness and passion. But NOW, what do they want from me, how can they demand of me in the middle of real life, amidst a sea of problems and troubles, to forget everything and celebrate freedom, I’m not at all there!’

Honestly, what do they want from our dear friend…?

Okay, so let’s try and tell this same story with a few minor changes:

On the outskirts of a quiet town stood a small house built of mortar sunk halfway into the ground with its roof stooping to the ground. In it lived Reb Chatzkel the wagon driver, together with his twelve sons. Reb Chatzkel’s Shabboses were as destitute as his weekdays – anything rather than to be dependent on others.  Spring arrived, and with it the Chag of Pesach, but there was not too much work to be done in the house whose floors had never seen bread crumbs. Yet just as a crumb of bread was not to be found, neither was a crumb of Matzah; wine and other necessities were not even a dream. The eve of Pesach arrived and Chatzkel the simple Jew, put his faith in Hashem. Already at midday he donned his ‘Yom Tov clothes’, took his Machzor and made his way to the Beis Ha’knessess. Then, as in all good stories, out of nowhere – a horse and wagon appeared and stopped next to his house. Rugged porters emerged from the wagon carrying baskets filled to the brim with meat, fish, wine, Matzahs and more. The family members stood mesmerized with their eyes peeled wide open and when the wagon went on its way they heard the echoing call of the wagon driver: “More work to be done, hurry, sunset is on its way…”

That wondrous Pesach night, Reb Chatzkel looked like one of the great Tzaddikim. His face radiated with a heavenly light, Kiddush was made with a loud and passionate roar, with awe and trepidation, and with tremendous joy. The ancient story of the Exodus from Mitzrayim flowed from his lips with a sweetness from another world. The wine tasted as if it was from the finest of wineries and the Matzos seemed to come from the jar of Mann that was kept in the Holy Ark. During the recitation of the Hallel the whole family came close to Hispashtus Ha’Gashmiyus (Shedding of Physicality) and during Nishmas it was as if every limb took part in the praises.

Let us look closely and see what is the difference between Reb Chatzkel and Reb Chaim.

It’s very simple. The night of the Seder it supposed to take us to another world completely – to the pinnacle of emunah to which Klal Yisroel were uplifted at Yetziyas Mitzrayim, to the place where the da’as (holy awareness) is freed from the chains of nature and Chametz-like thoughts. Every Jew is obligated to see himself as if he left Mitzrayim. The problem is that it is impossible to attain this when the heart is overloaded with Chametz.

Chametz is a heavy load. It weighs down the soul and doesn’t allow it to spread its wings and ascend to clear emunah.

This is exactly the purpose of the Mitzvah of eradicating chametz. Klal Yisroel fulfills this with tremendous meticulousness and G-d forbid to suspect a Jew like Reb Chaim of making light of such an important Mitzvah. Even from the day after Tu B’Shvat his family members are toiling in eradicating Chametz. Reb Chaim puts no limit on the time and money involved – anything to make sure that his home has no trace of Chametz. Every room, shelf and corridor is checked, cleaned and scrubbed. Reb Chaim works with all his strength yet he doesn’t know that the Chametz has found its hiding place in his heart and mind.

This is how Reb Chaim sat down to his Seder, with his house clean to the extreme, but his heart clogged with Chametz.

The Chametz that accumulates in the mind and heart is the most stubborn of all, being rigid and sticky. It seems as if it is impossible to get rid of it. Everyone knows how hard it is to rid oneself of a bothering thought. These thoughts visit our minds every day and they take over to the extent that the person thinking them becomes unsure of who really is in charge.

So what can be done?

The true problem with Chametz is that it is rooted in tumas meis (the impurity of the dead). Chametz-like thoughts defile the soul with tumas meis – with lifelessness, low-spiritedness, sadness and heaviness. It is absolutely impossible to receive Pesach with tumas meis. A good and pure thought revives the soul with a spirit of purity and happiness, and conversely a negative thought envelopes the soul with a spirit of tumah (impurity), sadness and despair.

For tumas meis there is only one solution – the ashes of the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer). But where can this be found?

This necessity can be found on one day only – Purim. The Rebbe explicitly teaches (Likutey Tinyana 74): “For originally all beginnings were from Pesach and this is why all the Mitzvos are in commemoration of the exodus from Mitzrayim, but now…. (The Rebbe did not finish his statement).” The intention is, as is evident from the lesson, that now all beginnings are from Purim. Why? Because from ‘Purim’ is created the ‘Parah’ (The root of both the word Parah and Purim is the two letters Pey Reish). The tremendous light of Purim reveals that even in the greatest darkness and concealment Hashem can be found. Purim paves the way for Pesach, for if not for it, we would have no connection to the celebrations of Pesach. For how can it be demanded of us to see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim – we cannot even imagine such a thing? We can, however, be spoken to in the language of Purim, one that penetrates into nature and shows that everything is truly a miracle.

Once the beginning was from Pesach – when did this change? In the days of Mordechai.

When Mordechai saw the frightening troubles, he knew that Pesach would not help as everyone was already sunk in utter despair. There was no option – it was necessary to reveal to them an entirely new illumination, to show them that absolutely everything is guided by Hashem, not that which is above nature but nature itself too.

If Mordechai had not written the Megillah, the story could have slipped by as a completely natural sequence of events, nothing more than politics. The king killed the queen, took another in her place, got frustrated with his minister, had him hanged and a wise man like Mordechai was just the natural choice to fill the position. Yet when we read the Megillah, we see that everything was perfectly orchestrated to the finest detail, everything perfectly timed. This is how the miracle of Purim took place, completely within the course of nature. Mordechai reveals and illuminates the world with the knowledge that there is no nature and miracles, but only miracles; miracles outside of nature and miracles within nature.

Baruch Hashem we merited to Purim and now as we approach the holy days of Pesach, let us not forget that in order to ascend to where this chag is supposed to take us, we must purify ourselves of tumas meis. The ashes of the Parah we take from Purim, from the knowledge that the Tzaddikim reveal that there is no nature at all and that everything in only Hashgacha (divine providence) and miracles. This knowledge envelopes the soul with a spirit of purity, cleanses the mind and the heart of the stubborn and sticky Chametz, and implants the elated feeling of living on miracles.

It is pleasant to think about the story of Chatzkel the wagon driver, but we are more like Reb Chaim – we specifically need the story of Purim. Our simple everyday lives are filled with miracles, the influx of bounty doesn’t have to come on a mysterious wagon on the eve of Pesach. Even if it arrives through completely natural means, it is no less of a miracle.

And if we thought that we covered the expenses from our own pockets, let us be careful not to cover the miracles with nature.

 You can download the entire parasha sheet here.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Purim

The great and holy day of Purim is approaching, and now is the time to prepare for this enormous day, especially since the awesome light of Purim shines upon us for just a short time of two days. We therefore have prepared a short summary of some of the Rebbe’s teachings concerning Purim, as they flow forth from the discourses in Likutei Moharan and Likutei Halachos.

It helps a lot to have a synopsis of what the battle with Amalek is in light of the teachings of the Rebbe and Reb Noson.  And those who desire to study those discourses which deal with Purim and don’t know which ones to learn, can use these summaries to find the discourse which they want to use to prepare for Purim.  But the main thing is to make prayers out of these lessons and teachings, to know what to request when asking to be saved from Haman-Amalek.

Likutei Moharan:

Torah 10

This lesson was taught in the town of Tirovitza on Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim-Shekalim, 5563

It discusses how the Klippah of Haman uses his arrogance and haughtiness to bring the world to heresy. The Tzaddik, Mordechai, stands up to him, by blowing a spirit of holiness into our hearts, which breaks the haughty spirit of heresy. This spirit of Mordechai brings about a revelation of Emunah into the aspect of “hands”, and into the aspect of “feet”, which refers to the “lower places”, in order that even those who are far from Hashem will be able to appreciate and recognize Him. All this leads to dancing and hand clapping, and a sweetening of harsh judgments, and we merit accepting the Torah anew.

After Reb Noson transcribed this discourse, the Rebbe told him, “This is what I said: Now we are hearing that the governments want to pass harsh decrees against Klal Yisroel. Purim is approaching, and Klal Yisroel will be dancing and clapping hands, and this will cause a mitigation of these harsh decrees.”  And he repeated himself and said, “This is what I said”, because he wanted us to follow his words and guidance with simplicity. (Sichos HaRan 131)

Torah 33

This Torah discusses the need to pursue peace, which means that a person should find peace in whatever happens to him, and always find Hashem, both in good days and in bad days, A person should never say that there are places and situations in which it is impossible to find Hashem, for ‘the whole world is full of His glory.’ He can’t find Hashem in the place where he’s in only because there are many layers of concealment there. Someone who subdues his Yetzer Hara will be able to find Hashem everywhere, because he has overpowered the ‘evil’ which had been hiding Him. This person can now see how everything in the world actually reveals Hashem, through the holy letters which they contain.

This is the Avodah of drinking wine on Purim until one doesn’t know the difference between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai, to bring forth a divine flow to the Godly spark inside the concealment, and to find Hashem in every place.

Torah 56

This lesson was taught on Shavuos, 5565, and it mentions Mordechai and Haman.

Haman attempts to overpower us with the desire for money, and thereby to throw a person into concealment within concealment. This is a situation in which a person doesn’t even know that there is holiness hidden from him, which leads to feelings of despair. Mordechai is the light which helps us to realize Hashem and His life-force even in the materialism of the concealment. The Torah and Divine Providence are everywhere, and every person has an aspect of ‘malchus’ – the ability to always reveal Hashem.

Torah 29 II

Amalek wants to uproot the point of simplicity on which all of Yiddishkeit hangs, and he is therefore the essence of evil. He tries to do this through sophistication and skepticism. He doesn’t believe in the power of prayer and practicing Mitzvos. It is therefore understood, that the opportunity which we have on Purim is to uproot Amalek, and to strengthen ourselves in Emunah, Tefillah, and performing Mitzvos.

Torah 74 II

Discusses how all beginnings are from Purim, which is a preparation for Pesach by meriting true freedom of mind. “Now” that Haman is standing on top of us and attacking, we need the wondrous light of Purim, to start redeeming the six supernal attributes from the “280 dinim (judgments)”.

The Rebbe also alluded then that “now”, all beginnings are from him, because immediately afterwards he revealed the 10 psalms of the Tikkun HaKlali, and the story of The Seven Beggars, and immediately after that Pesach, he moved to Uman. It is through these concepts which he revealed that he brought about redemption for the souls of Klal Yisroel for all generations.

Likutei Halachos:

Hilchos Hashkomas HaBoker 1 (based on Likutei Moharan 282)

Amalek especially tries to overpower and throw people down with the feeling that they have no hope. It’s necessary to stand up against him by finding the good points which one still has (para. 15). Understandably, the days of Purim have a special time in which to strengthen ourselves in living with the inner good which we have within us.

Hilchos Tzitzis 3 (based on Likutei Moharan II 8 )

Amalek is the core and essence of evil, which confuses us in our faith in Creation. This brings a person into small-mindedness and weakens the Neshama with faulty rebuke until one can’t feel inspired to serve Hashem with joy and vigor, and one is unable to pray properly.

On Purim we work on overcoming Amalek and to reveal the song of Emunah which will be sung when Moshiach comes; to add vigor to the Neshama, and to rejoice with the joy of Purim; to drink wine, and to cause Amalek to vomit all the holiness which he’s swallowed. This is the secret behind Esther being taken to Achashverosh’s palace – the necessity to descend into “smallness” (“katnus”) in order to overcome the Klippah there. (para. 8-9)

Hilchos Tefillin 5 (based on Sippurei Maasiyos 13)

The Klippah of Haman – Amalek tries to deny Creation, and to throw Klal Yisroel into ‘oldness’ and lack of strength which is the source of all types of Yetzer Hara (para.30- 32).

The main battle is to break the sleep, and constantly renew oneself. Because Hashem is constantly renewing the world in His Goodness, and at every instance changes the entire order of the worlds. When a person realizes this, he then has patience in the face of all the obstacles and confusions which he encounters, and is always fresh and full of vigor. The main point being, not to be ‘old’.

Tag Cloud