Part Three of our series will just have to wait,
Purim is here, we must explain Haman’s fate.
And although the story as written is already quite thrilling,
To learn its deep lessons you must also be willing.
Okay Rabbosai and Rebbetzinosai, let us see what we know and what we do not know about Purim. We will then turn the ‘not knowing’ into knowing, even though that is venahapoch hu for Purim!
We know that in the aftermath of the Purim miracle, B’nei Yisrael accepted the Torah —that is to say, their position as the am segulah and mamleches kohanim, the representatives of Hashem in this world, learning His Torah, keeping His mitzvos– with full will and complete volition. What we do not know is why this was a logical, compelling result of the Purim story. Surely, there must have been many opportunities and reasons to do so up to that point in their history!
We know that the original matan Torah itself was apparently imperfect, because of Hashem ‘forcing’ B’nei Yisrael to accept the Torah. What we do not know is why it was necessary to do so, especially given the ringing na’aseh v’nishma that they declared
We know that Purim ‘completed’ matan Torah by correcting the “imperfection” that it had. What we do not know is what exactly was missing from the national psyche before and what exactly happened now.
We know that Rashi in Shabbos (88a) explains that the perfect acceptance of Torah happened on Purim “because of the love (engendered by) the miracle (of Purim).” What we do not know is exactly what that means —surely, we would expect something along the lines of the national salvation from (chas veshalom) extinction— what is this ‘love of the miracle’ business?
We know that the Midrash Tanchuma in Parshas Noach says that the need to coerce Klal Yisrael to accept the Torah in the first place was specifically due to the very demanding, onerous and at times painful task of learning and keeping the Oral Torah, with all of the details, difficulties, and exacting efforts
that this entails. In other words, there was a level of mesirus nefesh, total devotion and self-sacrifice that the Jews were not yet ready to take on.
We also know that the Tanchumah explains explicitly that what is needed to bear that burden is ahavah –love, which cements a bond between two parties, and makes one party ready to bear burdens and undergo distress and struggles to fulfill the desires and perhaps even the demands of the other party. Until this element is there, the relationship is always somewhat out-of-order. But what we don’t know is how perfection is created, where does it come from, how do you summon that up?
We know that the Vilna Gaon explains the concept of any bris, that is, an unshakeable bond between two parties, as being created, indeed embodied, by each side ‘surrendering’ something of value and giving it to the other party. Thus, I have a ‘part of you’, and you have a part of me; we are bonded, forever connected. What we do not know is where that exists in the bris between Hashem and His people.
We know that Hashem revealed Himself to His people at Har Sinai in a way that, in the words of the pasuk (Shemos 20:17), “in order that the fear of G-d be on your faces (i.e., always recognizable).” We know that B’nei Yisrael accepted a relationship that appears to have been to some degree forced, which is indeed a mode that one would expect in a fear-based relationship. What we do not know is how that changed at Purim.
We know that the Vilna Gaon in Megillas Esther says that the hanhagas Hashem that was brought into being at the nes of Purim was that Hashem is fully protective of His people even though they be undeserving; this is the hanhagah that takes place during a time of what is known as hester panim. The novelty of this idea is that the Gaon is saying that this hanhagah was actualized and set in place then! What we do not know is what implication this held for B’nei Yisrael.
What we know is that in reciprocation for what can only be called a manifestation of Hashem’s absolute love for His people, to the degree that even when we are undeserving He is “there for us,” we expressed and established our total love and devotion to Him, thus setting in place a new readiness for total mesirus nefesh, which is possible when there is a relationship of absolute and perfect love. Thus, the ‘flaw’ of that first matan Torah was now rectified. What we don’t know is how this created a new bris between Hashem and His people.
What we should know by now is that Hashem “gave us” something of His: His showering us with His love even if objective reality does not really allow for it. (Vilna Gaon = bris). That is Hashem’s “giving up something of His, for us.” Thus, B’nei Yisrael at that time accepted their role in creation with “love of the nes” —reciprocal absolute love— translated into readiness for full-fledged mesirus nefesh, rectifying the imperfection of the unwillingness of that first encounter: kiymu vekiblu, a new relationship, forged of love.
And what we do not know is why we did not understand all this before reading it right here, in CHADASH?!?
Now you are ready for Purim day,
Eating and drinking, singing and dancing, in an unbridled way.
Knowledge is power, it is commonly thought,
On Purim, we disprove this as we make our minds naught.
And so we get high, though at times that is risky
(And I hold only with wine, and not using whiskey)
Knowledge is limiting, and many times it’s dependent,
While we seek a relationship that is always transcendent.
Thus, ad delo yoda is the day’s central theme
Though we sometimes strike out, we are Hashem’s team.
The first time was flawed, on Purim it renewed,
As the Megillah does tell us, they kiymu vekiblued!