Friday, February 25, 2011

Purim: Connect the Dots

The following is influenced in part by the Meor Einayim, Nefesh HaChayim Pachad Yitzchak, Maharal Sfas Emes, Ohr G’Dalyahu, Afikei Mayim, as well as conversations with Rav Avshi Weingott Shlit’a. Please feel free to print this out and read it over Shabbos, but please not during Tefilos.

HaKadosh Baruch Hu tells us that His fight with Amalek spans through all the generations - M’Dor Dor. We are commanded, “Timcheh Es Zecher Amalalek” – Wipe out any recollection of them. Clean the world of them.

Even more powerfully, the termination of Amalek comes hand-in-hand with the world reaching Tikun, a lofty spiritual term which simply means, “fixing” or “rectification.” The Passuk says, “Reishis Goyim Amalek V’Achariso Adei Oved” - Amalek is the Reishis, the start, the head of all the nations, but it’s Acharis, its end, its finality is destruction.

The meaning of V’Achriso Adei Oved is that Amalek’s final Tikun, their spiritual-fixing, is attained only via their nullification. V’Achriso: Their meeting with Acharis - as in Acharis HaYamim, the End of Days, where all things meet their Tikkun - is Adei Oveid, eternal destruction.

We see here Amalek’s association with the concept of being first, Resishis Goyim. Hashem always creates a balance between the holy and impure, and the contrast to Amalek’s Reishis, is that of Am Yisrael’s. As the Midrash says on the first word of the Torah, Bireishis, Bishvil Yisrael She’Nikra Reishis - What does the word Bireishis mean? For Am Yisrael who are called Reishis.

And so the stage is set for history’s most important battle, Reishis versus Reishis, withAchris HaYamim and Tikun Olam hanging in the balance.

Amalek has Koach HaPirud, the power Pirud - Disconnection. Amalek works like a pot-hole, seeping into the smallest crack, pushing and pushing until everything collapses. Amalek severs ties (last week we spoke about Amalek breaking up the Jewish people), between man and his fellow man, between man and his Maker, and between man and himself. Pirud, separation, divide and conquer. If we are trying to bring the world to Tikun, then Amalek is using Koach HaPirud to bring the world to farther and farther Kilkul, Spiritual Ruin.

The world of Tikun is described as a time where, VaYimaleh Ha’Aretz Da’as Hashem, the world will be filled with the truest form of Da’as, the Knowledge of God. If Da’as, specifically that of God represents Tikun, then logically Amalek is standing in the way of proper Da’as.

Da’as, as it is used first in the Torah, is an expression of connectedness. Va’Adam Yada Es Chava Ishto - And Adam ‘knew’ his wife. The verse goes on to tell us that this knowledge of one another caused Chava (Eve) to bear children. Clearly this wasn’t simply a deep conversation. The Torah is telling us that true knowledge means to be connected at the core.

This is the goal of VaYimaleh Ha’Aretz Da’as Hashem, for the world to live together with Hashem, to have a life infused with a deeply rooted consciousness of God – this is the Tikun of the universe.

Amalek therefore opposes this Da’as. Da’as leads connectedness, which leads to Tikun. Amalek brings Pirud - disconnection - and thereby Kilkul.

Haman, the main antagonist of the Purim-Story was a direct descendant of Amalek. And therefore he must have Pirud and Kilkul in his veins. (We’ve described how this is so in last week’s essay.) But to intensify this already startling information, Chazal trace Amalek’s roots back to the, Nachash HaKadmoni - the Snake in the Garden of Eden, thereby making Haman a reincarnation of everything that the Nachash HaKadmoni represents. Let’s see how this is so.

If we look carefully we see this Koach of anti-Da’as with the snake as well. For if we learned that Da’as is codeword for the intimate relationship between Adam and Chava, then it does not come as a shock that the Midrash tells us that the Nachash HaKadmoni actually slept with Chava (we don’t understand such things) in order to convince her to eat of the Eitz HaDa’as, which caused all of the problems that we experience for the rest of history. Thus, the Nachash, comes to desecrate the original Da’as in order to created the ultimate Kilkul.

What’s so bad about the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra? How does its consumption further the goals of Amalek? Until Adam ate from the tree he was living with Da’as Hashem, the way that God intended it. It part of his very nature to be totally in tune with Hashem’s will. A life of total Dveikus. But after he ate, he replaced this consciousness with a confusion of Tov V’Ra a confounding and fuddling blend of good and evil, right and wrong. Things were no longer clear as they once were. He was distracted away from that deep connection that he once possessed. Man’s clarity of mind allowed him to live on-on-one with the Creator, constantly. The consumption of the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra separated that connection, thereby creating the Pirud between man and maker, which opened the door to all sins - ever.

And this ultimate Kilkul, the eating of the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra (Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) is Chazal’s source of Haman in the Torah. “Haman Min HaTorah Minayin?” Where does Haman appear in the Torah? “HaMin Ha’Eitz.” This is where Hashem asks Adam if he ate of the tree. And as we know, he did.

We learn a very important fundamental concept here. If Haman’s Torah-root is found in the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra (Hamin HaEitz), then it means that he must be pulling his entire essence from the Eitz HaDa’as Tov V’Ra, and therefore we see that the Nachash, Amalek and Haman are seeking to replace Da’as Hashem with Kilkul via Pirud.

It’s written in the Zohar that Moshe Rabbeinu is the Raza D’Da’as, the Secret of Da’as and the Da’as of Am Yisrael. One shining example is when Am Yisrael was fighting Amalek on the way to Har Sinai (a classic display of the Pirud against Da’as Hashem by the hand of Amalek). Chazal tell us that when Moshe’s hands were lifted, the Jews would gain the upper hand. When he put his hands down, Amalek would gain the upper hand. Chazal ask: What, Moshe’s hands win wars? No! It means that when Moshe would raise his hands he would be reminding the Jews to keep focused on the One Above. Keep your thoughts on Him and you are invincible. Moshe shows us here how he is a vessel of Da’as Hashem.

It would thereby reason to say that in the Megilah, at every stage of Haman’s downfall, we should see an expression of Da’as to signify the occasion. And we do.

The first seed is planted for Mordechai’s eventual upheaval and rise to power was before any problems with Haman began. His incrimination of Bigsan and Seresh led to his entry into Achashverosh’s book of merits which eventually led to his total decimation of Haman’s pride. He overheard Bigsan and Seresh plotting to kill Achashverosh, and the verse says there, “VaYivada HaDavar L’Mordechai” – And the matter became known to Mordecha.

Then again, when Haman rises into power, and the decree is set forth againt the Jewish people, before Mordechai begins to pray, the Passuk says, “U’Mordechai Yada Es Kol Asher Na’asa” And Mordechai knew everything that was done.

And then, finally, things go really down hill for Haman when Ester is finally convinced to go into see Achashverosh. How does Mordechai convince her to go in? U’Mi Yodea Im L’Eis KaZos HiGa’at L’Malchus? Who knows? Maybe this is the reason that you were brought into royalty! Save us!

Thus it’s clear that at every stage– the precursor, the preperation and the coming into fruition - of Haman’s downfall, an expression of Da’as is present. And we understand fully why this needs to be so. Haman, Amalek, the Nachash, and anything else in the world that seeks to cause Kilkul, simply falls before true Da’as.

So how does this play into my life? The message for me is that no matter what challenge comes my way, no matter what confusing situation needs to be dealt with, if my am constantly thinking about God, If I am absorbed to the best of my abilities in contemplation with my relationship with the divine, then I become so deeply rooted, so intrinsically connected to Hashem, my enhanced state of Da’as will pull me through. If I put my mind in high places, if I think holy thoughts, if I sit and take the time to focus and meditate on the right things, to work on that deep inner connection – then I am doing my part to bring the whole world towards VaYimaleh HaAretz Da’as Hashem. We are where are thoughts are, and it’s that power that can fight off any Amalek.

As we move closer to Purim, HaKadosh Baruch Hu should give us a Brahca to live with such a lofty state of mind. If we can do so there is on doubt that we will live lives of true Simcha and Shleimus, moving closer to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and ultimately the Geulah Sheleimah!

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