This Shabbos falls in the beginning of the month of Adar, a month whose nature is characterized by our Sages' statement, "When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy." Joy is a fundamental concept in the service of G-d that is appropriate throughout the year as it is written, "Serve G-d with joy." To quote the Rambam: "The happiness with which a person should rejoice in the fulfillment of the mitzvos and the love of G-d who commanded them is a great service."
Since the service of G-d must continue every moment of our lives, for "I was created only to serve my Creator," it follows that at every moment of our lives, we must be involved in the joy mentioned above. Thus, the Rama concludes his gloss to the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, "A good-hearted person is always celebrating."
Beyond this happiness which is relevant at all times, there is an additional measure of happiness associated with the month of Adar. Indeed, that additional happiness is felt, "When the month of Adar enters," at the very beginning of the month.
In particular, this applies on the present day which is the second of Adar, which together with the two days of Rosh Chodesh Adar represents a chazakah, a three day continuum of happiness. Also, Shabbos is referred to as "the days of rejoicing." And thus there is a unique dimension of happiness associated with the present day.
To focus on our Sages' expression, "When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy" in greater depth: In his commentary on the Talmud, Rashi explains the reason for our increase in happiness, "These are days of miracles for the Jewish people, Purim and Pesach." The commentaries question why Rashi mentions Pesach. On the contrary, what connection do the miracles of Pesach share with the beginning of the month of Adar? And also, we do not find as great a stress on celebration and happiness in the month of Nissan. According to Rashi's commentary, Nissan should also be characterized by happiness.
Also, the expression, "increase our joy" implies that the joy is of the same nature as that experienced throughout the year, there is merely more of it. On the surface, since the joy of Adar is associated with unique miracles, it should be of a totally different kind than the joy experienced throughout the year.
The explanation of the above concepts is as follows: The celebration of Purim is associated with the renewal of our commitment to the Torah. Thus on the verse, "The Jews established and accepted,..." our Sages commented that "they now established what they had already accepted when the Torah had been given." Although the Jewish people had willingly accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai, it was not affirmed as an intrinsic, unalterable part of their beings until the events of Purim. At the giving of Torah, "G-d held the mountain over their heads like a tub," forcing them to accept it, as it were. In contrast, in the era of Purim, the Jews accepted the Torah willingly.
Here we see the connection to Pesach because the ultimate intent of the exodus of Egypt was to lead to the giving of the Torah as G-d promised Moshe, "When you take this people out of Egypt, you will serve G-d on this mountain."
Our Sages' statement explaining the uniqueness of the Jews' affirmation of the Torah on Purim is, however, problematic. The deficiency in the Jews' acceptance of the Torah on Mount Sinai is that it was associated with miracles, that the influence of these miracles upon the Jewish people was so great, that they had no free will. Thus they were forced to accept the Torah. As Rashi emphasizes in his commentary to the above passage, however, the events of Purim were also associated with miracles. Thus, the question arises: Why are the events of Purim considered more of a willful acceptance of the Torah than the process which began with the exodus from Egypt and which was completed at Mount Sinai.
This question can be resolved within the context of the theme that the Purim miracle involves the transformation of darkness into light or to use the phraseology of the Megillah, "the month that was transformed." The very same Achashverosh who ordered to have the Jews killed, ordered the Jews to do "what is right in their eyes." In contrast, during the exodus from Egypt, the nature of the Egyptians was not transformed, and, on the contrary, it was necessary to wipe them out entirely through the miracles of the Red Sea.
To explain the contrast in a slightly different manner: The essence of the Pesach miracles was the revelation beyond the limits of nature. "The King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself to them and redeemed them." Thus, it was the intensity of the revelation which nullified the opposing forces. On Purim, in contrast, the miracles were enclothed within the forces of nature and thus, the essential emphasis was on the transformation of the nature of the Jews' setting within the world and not on the nullification of the opposing forces.
Thus these two approaches are also reflected in the Jews' relationship with the Torah. After the exodus from Egypt, the emphasis was on receiving the revelation from Above, responding to G-d's prompts. In contrast, the acceptance of the Torah on Purim was characterized by an inner desire of the Jewish people, an arousal stemming from their own initiative.
The uniqueness of the miracles of Purim evokes a happiness of a different nature, a happiness which surpasses understanding, ad d'lo yoda. Happiness and miracles are interrelated for "happiness breaks through boundaries" and similarly, miracles represent a breaking through the boundaries of nature.
Although in general, all miracles represent the breaking of the boundaries of nature, in particular, there is an aspect of the Purim miracles which surpasses all other miracles in this quality. Breaking through boundaries does not represent the utter nullification of the limiting forces. Rather, it implies that a boundary exists and yet it becomes broken. Thus, since Pesach is associated with the revelation from above, its miracles involve the nullification -- but not the breaking through -- of nature's boundaries. In contrast, in Purim, the boundaries of nature were not nullified. Nevertheless, although the natural setting remained in force, a miracle above nature "broke through."
Since the miracles of Pesach represent a nullification of all the opposing forces, the redemption that follows this nullification is not as great a new development. In contrast, in regard to the miracles of Purim, even after the miracles transpired, Achashverosh remained in power. And therefore, the fact that in such a setting, Haman's decrees were nullified and Mordechai and the Jewish people as a whole were given positions of power, reflects how the power of redemption breaks through the boundaries of exile.
For this reason, the joy -- which breaks through boundaries -- of Purim is greater than that of other holidays, transcending all limits, ad d'lo yoda. Since the Megillah associates the totality of the month with the Purim miracle, describing it as "the month which was transformed," the joy of Purim affects the entire month and therefore, "When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy."
Rashi, however, also mentions the miracles of Pesach because the ultimate of happiness involves the appreciation of the advantages of both the miracles of Pesach and the miracles of Purim and the fusion of these two services.
The miracles of Pesach possess an advantage; they reveal a higher level of G-dliness, a dimension which transcends nature entirely. Nevertheless, this revelation negates -- and is not internalized within -- the limits of our worldly existence. Thus the miracles of Purim are a necessary complement for they involve the limits of nature. Nevertheless, they also require the complement of Pesach for they are lacking the dimension which transcends nature.
To restate the concept in other terms: The miracles of Pesach represented the redemption from Egypt. However, Egypt was nullified, it was not transformed into good. In contrast, the miracles of Purim did reflect the transformation of Achashverosh. However, the redemption of Purim was not complete. Even afterwards, we remained subjects of Achashverosh.
Thus, the ultimate of redemption reflects the fusion of both Pesach and Purim, that the forces of nature be transformed and not nullified, but that the redemption be complete and not partial. This will be revealed in the Era of Redemption when "as in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders;" i.e., there will be a revelation from Above which resembles -- indeed which transcends -- the revelations of the exodus from Egypt. Simultaneously, that revelation will be connected with the transformation -- not the nullification -- of the world as reflected by the prophecy, "I will transform the nations, [making them] pure of speech."
Based on the above, we can also resolve the problem raised originally that, our Sages' expression "When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy," implies that the happiness of Adar is merely an increase, but not of a different nature, than the happiness experienced throughout the year.
The happiness of Purim which results from the miraculous breaking through the boundaries of nature [but doing so within the context of nature as explained above] is also connected with the Jews' reaffirmation of their acceptance of the Torah on Purim. Both of the concepts share an emphasis on internalizing G-dliness within the world. The Jews' willful acceptance of the Torah is paralleled by the transformation of the worldly aspects of our environment.
The reaffirmation of the acceptance of the Torah on Purim must be drawn down throughout the entire year, affecting the totality of our service. Therefore, the happiness of Purim is drawn down throughout the entire year, emphasizing how Torah permeates (rather than breaks) our worldly environment. Thus, the happiness associated with the acceptance of the Torah is of the same nature as that of Purim. Purim, however, represents an intensification of that happiness each year.
There is a connection between the above concepts and this week's Torah portion, Parshas Terumah. Parshas Terumah continues the theme of the giving of the Torah, begun in Parshas Yisro. The giving of the Torah emphasizes how the Torah is given within the context of our material world. Parshas Terumah develops this theme further, revealing how a Sanctuary for G-d can be established within this material world, how physical entities can become a dwelling for Him.
To explain: On the opening verse of Parshas Terumah, "And you shall take an offering for Me," our Sages comment:
There is a sale in which the one who makes the sale is sold together with the merchandise. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel, "I sold My Torah to you, it is as if I sold Myself with it.... I gave you My Torah, I cannot part from it, nor can I tell you not to take it. Wherever you go, make a dwelling for Me and I will dwell within. This is what is meant by the command, "And you shall make Me a Sanctuary."
Indeed, the construction of the Sanctuary represents the fulfillment of the intention of the giving of the Torah, that G-dliness be drawn down to the world as it exists within its own context. There are two dimensions to the revelation of the giving of the Torah: the spiritual realms descend to the material and the material realms ascend to the spiritual.
Parshas Yisro represents the descent of the spiritual into the material, while the construction of the Sanctuary described in Parshas Terumah reflects how the world, as it exists within its own context, becomes a dwelling for G-d. Thus, Parshas Terumah is appropriate for the month of Adar, a month which as explained above, is associated with the transformation -- and not the nullification -- of the framework of material existence within its own context.
In particular, there are two dimensions to Parshas Terumah: a) The connection between Terumah and the Torah. Terumah (äÄàÿÜ) can be broken up into Torah (äÿàÜ) and mem (Ä), the mem alluding to the forty days in which the Torah was transmitted to Moshe. Thus, Terumah relates to the Torah as it is transmitted within this world. b) Terumah refers to the physical entities from which the Sanctuary was made, the gold, silver, brass, and the like which became a dwelling for G-d.
These two dimensions which exist within Parshas Terumah parallel the two aspects of Purim described above. The concept of the transmission of the Torah relates to the dimension of Purim associated with the Jews' willful reaffirmation of their commitment to the Torah. And the concept of the physical entities of the world becoming part of G-d's dwelling parallels the transformation of Achashverosh and the natural setting which accompanied the Purim miracle.
The ultimate expression of this process of transformation will be realized in the era of Redemption. At present, "we are servants of Achashverosh," and our efforts of transforming our worldly environment are therefore limited. It will not be until the era of Redemption that this process will be completed in a full sense.
Similarly, although in every place and in every era, the Divine Presence dwells within the Sanctuary, in microcosm within the Jewish heart and within each particular Jewish home, nevertheless, the ultimate expression of a dwelling for G-d will be in the era of Redemption, in the Third Beis HaMikdash, "the Sanctuary of G-d established by Your hands."
The above concepts should also be applied within our actual conduct. Thus, reflection on the above should produce: a) an increase in Torah study for as explained above, the word Terumah includes the word Torah. b) An increase in giving to tzedakah, giving our financial resources for a G-dly purpose. Jewish law requires one to give a minimum of ten percent of one's capital, and preferably twenty percent. At present, however, one should give without any reservations at all.
c) Making one's home and one's environment, a dwelling for G-d, a Sanctuary in microcosm. d) Influencing gentiles to observe the seven universal laws commanded to Noach and his descendants and thus, preparing for the fulfillment of the prophecy, "I will transform the nations to a clear speech."
e) Spreading the mitzvos of Purim through the Purim campaign. There should not be a single Jew in a far removed corner of the world who does not have the opportunity to fulfill all the Purim mitzvos.
And all the above should be carried out with joy, the increased happiness of the month of Adar, which breaks through the boundaries of the world, transcending all limitations.
These activities will enhance the wondrous nature of the present year, causing G-d to nullify all the undesirable elements associated with Haman and his household. On the contrary, the nations of the world will -- as they did to Mordechai -- elevate the Jews and bring them to positions of power and influence.
These two developments, the nullification of the enemies of the Jewish people and the assistance the gentile nations will offer the Jews, represent a foretaste of the era of Redemption, when we will witness the fulfillment of the prophecies, "And I will cause the spirit of impurity to depart from the earth," and "And all your brethren of the nations shall bring an offering for G-d... in a pure vessel."
May we soon no longer have to content ourselves with a foretaste for the redemption will have actually come. Thus, we will "join redemption to redemption," and even before celebrating the redemptions of Purim and Pesach, experience the ultimate and complete redemption. May it be in the immediate future.
- (Back to text) Indeed, since Rashi associates this increase in happiness with miracles, the happiness of Nissan should surpass that of Adar. The miracles of Nissan were openly revealed and transcended the natural order. In contrast, in Adar, the miracles were confined within the limits of nature.
- (Back to text) Indeed, as emphasized by Rashi's association of Purim with Pesach, the influence of Purim has the potential to effect the transcendent revelations and internalize them within our worldly sphere of reference.
- (Back to text) Similarly, the Midrash continues comparing the Jews' relationship with the Torah to a wedding bond. After a couple is married, the bride's father -- in the analog, G-d as it were -- comes to visit with the new couple.
- (Back to text) Although Parshas Yisro also involves the ascent of the material realms as reflected in the verse, "And Moshe ascended to G-d," that ascent involves leaving the framework of material existence. In contrast, the ascent of Parshas Terumah involves elevating the material framework of existence on its own level.
- (Back to text) Parshas Terumah is also associated with happiness, the characteristic quality of the month of Adar, for the day of the construction of the Sanctuary was a day of great rejoicing for the Jewish people.
- (Back to text) This relates to Parshas Shekalim's description of tzedakah as being "atonement for one's soul." See Iggeres HaKodesh, Epistle 3, where the Alter Rebbe advises "squandering" one's wealth for charity. Just as a person would give everything he has for his own physical health, he should be prepared to make similar sacrifices for his spiritual health, "atonement for his soul."
- (Back to text) One aspect of this transformation can be seen in the fact that one of the greater nations of the world has made provisions in its laws allowing for the expression of faith in G-d.