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Shabbos Parshas Terumah

Shabbos Parshas Tetzaveh

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sissa

Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, Parshas Shekalim

1st Day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Pikudei

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra, Parshas Zachor

   11th Day of Adar II, 5749

Ta'anis Esther, 5749

Purim, 5749

Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah

Machne Israel Special Development Fund


Shabbos Parshas Shemini, Parshas Hachodesh

Shabbos Parshas Tazria

Shabbos Parshas Metzora, Shabbos Hagadol

Motzoei Shabbos, Parshas Metzora

Maamar Matzah Zu

Tzivos Hashem/Pesach

6th Day Of Pesach, 5749

Shevi'i Shel Pesach, 5749

Acharon Shel Pesach, 5749

Maamar Vehechrim

Shabbos Parshas Acharei


Shabbos Parshas Kedoshim

2nd Day Of Iyar, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Emor

Shabbos Parshas Behar,

Eve Of Lag Baomer, 5749

Evening Following Lag Baomer, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Bechukosai

Address To The Women's Convention

Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 4th Day Of Sivan, 5749

1st Day Of Shavuos, 5749

2nd Day Of Shavuos, 5749

Yechidus Following Shavuos

12th Day Of Sivan, 5749

Eve Of The 13th Of Sivan, 5749

Sichos In English
Volume 41

Shabbos Parshas Vayikra, Parshas Zachor
11th Day of Adar II, 5749
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  4th Day of Adar II, 5749Ta'anis Esther, 5749  


The 11th of Adar, is considered the first of the "days of Purim," as the Mishnah states: "The Megillah may be read on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th...." (Megillah 2a)

Coming before Purim, this Shabbos includes additional aspects that relate it to the holiday of Purim:

  1. Shabbos bestows its blessing on the ensuing six days of the week, as expressed in Zohar: "For the six days receive blessing from the seventh." (Zohar II, 63b)

  2. We read the portion of Zachor on this Shabbos, to place the eradication of Amalek close to the eradication of Haman, for the remembrance must precede the action. So the Zachor portion reminds us of our responsibility to eradicate Haman on Purim.

Let us therefore discuss the theme of Purim and how man's Divine service fits in the theme of Purim. It was the Baal Shem Tov who taught that we must apply the lesson of the story of Purim to our own lives. He expounded on the Mishnaic dictum: "One who reads the Megillah backwards does not fulfill his obligation," and interpreted the term "backwards" as meaning in the past. Thus, one who reads the Megillah and considers it a story that took place in the past has missed the whole meaning of the Megillah. When we recall the story of Purim, it must come alive, so that we relive it now and apply it in our personal Divine service.

The underlying theme that emerges from the story of Purim is "They confirmed what they had accepted long before" (at the time of Mattan Torah). This means that at the time of the Purim episode the Jewish people reached the full and complete state of receiving the Torah. The reason for this -- because during the Purim drama they achieved a state of martyrdom.

Chassidus explains that all through that year, from the time of Haman's decree until the 13th of Adar, the Jewish people were ready to face death and not for a moment did they entertain a weakening of that thought. This self-sacrifice brought perfection and completeness to the acceptance of Torah and mitzvos.

Every year this theme of acceptance is relived on Purim and the commitment to Torah and mitzvos is once again reinforced for the coming year. This comes with the reawakening and revelation of the essential powers of faith and martyrdom which penetrate all aspects of Torah and mitzvos.

We prepare for this when we read the portion of Zachor. Amalek was the epitome of chutzpah -- irrational and illogical -- the converse of man's ability to tie himself to G-d in a superational way.

Chassidus explains that Amalek's evil work begins by "cooling a Jew down" in his enthusiasm for G-dliness. He then blinds the Jew, not to see the true hand of Divine Providence, and is then able to attack those who are "straggling behind." This is the Torah's intention when it says "Remember what Amalek not forget." We must be very careful not to allow coolness and indifference to affect us to the point that we weaken our level of Divine service. Remember also that a Jew must always have the fire of G-dliness and that a Jew must always be cognizant of the hand of Divine Providence. For G-d watches us with "two eyes."

This power of remembrance is not only to be utilized for negative action (Amalek), but also in a positive sense. One must always be aware that his association to G-d out of a sense of commitment, self-abnegation and self-sacrifice beyond intellect, should always be consciously perceived, never forgotten and then all his actions will be as they should be. This will also be the case even when he is involved in permitted matters (not mitzvos) and even when he sleeps.

Thus, by destroying Amalek and awakening the inner essence of the soul and its bond to the Holy One, Blessed be He, he effects the state of "confirmed what had been accepted," the perfection of receiving the Torah, and it continues through the year.

In discussing the concept of Amalek, Rashi explains "The Holy One, Blessed be He, swears that His Name will not be perfect nor His throne perfect until the name of Amalek be entirely blotted out!" (Rashi, Shmos 17:16) Chassidus expounds this idea and explains that the kelipah (evil state) of Amalek, as it were, conceals part of G-d's Name.

In man's Divine service this also has some effect, for the G-dly soul of a Jew symbolically possesses the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, which are divided into the hidden and revealed aspects. In simple terms, the inner powers of love, fear, meditation, faith, etc., are the hidden powers representing the Yud-Hey of the G-dly Name, while actual study and observance of mitzvos symbolize the Vav-Hey of G-d's Name. Amalek tries to separate between these two aspects so that the meditation and attributes will not influence the person's action.

Eradicating Amalek now becomes a vital part of man's Divine service so that G-d's Name will be whole and the person's good intention will infuse and be revealed in his actions.

The Mishnah states that the Megillah may be read from the 11th through the 15th. The Shaloh explains that the numerical equivalent of the Vav-Hey of G-d's Name is 11 and of the Yud-Hey is 15.

Thus the Mishnah alludes to the perfection attained on Purim, that the inner powers (15) are irradiated and the more corporeal actions (11) are infused so that everything unites and is illuminated.

Purim concludes and perfects the process of accepting Torah. But this is not clearly understood. For at Mattan Torah the Jews were in a very exalted state, on the other hand during the Purim drama they were in a depressed state. It makes no sense that at Mattan Torah they only experienced the initial stage of acceptance of Torah and this process was not completed and perfected until the story of Purim.

But the truth is that the consummate acceptance of Torah embodies a firm unswerving commitment to observance that will not be eroded by any adverse forces. No matter what opposing forces the Jew faces his faith and action must not waver and he must steadfastly perform his duties as a Jew. This ultimate commitment to Torah can only come through the revelation of the essential soul which is connected and bound to the Holy One, Blessed be He, in an eternal bond.

Purim introduced this aspect of Jewish potential; the immutable bond of Jew and G-d was revealed on Purim.

At the time of Mattan Torah the Jews stood in an exalted state. The G-dly light was revealed in them and this served as a catalyst for the acceptance of Torah. But it did not radiate to their inner beings. Because in that lofty condition they could not know how strong their commitment would be in a state of the absence of the G-dly light.

However, on Purim the Jewish people were in a state of depression in the darkness of golus. It was the "days of Achashverosh" when their faces were "blackened like the bottom of the pot"; the G-dly light was not revealed. It was a time of which Scripture states "And I will hide My face on that day." (Devarim 31:18)

Despite the darkness the Jewish people showed the greatest determination, by virtue of their inner strength. This brought them to the total true acceptance of Torah and mitzvos and thereby "they confirmed what they had accepted." Because this came from their own inner power it could neutralize the "protest" that had stood since the time of Mattan Torah.

We may view this from another aspect. At Mattan Torah the Jews accepted Torah based on their revealed powers: understanding, comprehension and emotions. On the other hand, the confirmation that took place at Purim involved the essence of the soul, out of the darkness and concealment of the golus there emerged powers that brought out the inner Jewish essence which is higher than the revealed powers. This evoked a strong eternal connection with the Holy One, Blessed be He, through Torah and mitzvos.

In this context we may also discern a connection between Purim and the future redemption. As our sages say "we bring one redemption close to the other redemption."

The theme of the true redemption is to usher in a period in which the original purpose of Mattan Torah will be realized, to fabricate a dwelling place for G-d in the lower world. This happened for a brief moment at the time of Mattan Torah and it will reach completion with the future redemption. At Mattan Torah this came about through a revelation from above and in the future it will be caused by the Divine service of those below.

Since the aspect of self-motivated power began on Purim it fits that Purim is connected to the future, complete redemption.

At Mattan Torah G-dliness was revealed in the world, while during Purim everything was concealed, yet that concealment pointed to a loftier condition, even higher than the relative revelation, and in the future this will all be revealed.

This all comes about as a result of the efforts of the Jewish people during the diaspora in the days of Achashverosh -- while they were spread out among all the nations. Specifically then their G-dly essence -- the essential soul -- was revealed in a state above revelation. This phenomenon occurs and is revealed, that when the Jewish people appear to be spread out and absorbed among the nations they are still "one unique nation" through their inner bond with G-d. They also reveal G-d's unity in the world and this causes the revelation of the kingdom of G-d.

Having connected Purim to the true redemption we may now investigate why some of the mitzvos of Purim begin with the letter Mem: Mikra Megillah, Mishloach Manos, Matanos L'Evyonim, Mishteh -- festive meal.

In Chassidic philosophy golus and salvation are both symbolized by the letter mem. [Normally the "open" mem is used at the beginning or in the middle of a word and the "closed" mem is used only as the last letter. However there are some outstanding exceptions in Scripture.] When the open Mem occurs at the end of a word it alludes to golus and the closed-mem in the middle of a word alludes to redemption. An example of this may be found in the verse: "To him who increases the authority and for peace without end." (Yeshayahu 9:6)

How do we close the open mem? Through the Divine service of the Jewish people.

The world was created with the potential for a breach, as the Talmud relates "the world is like a three-walled patio..." (B. Basra 25a). This opening allows the descent and manifestation of the corporeal world. Through human Divine service, using their inner strength they reveal the Master of the world and close the gap. Then the world is closed like the closed mem which ushers in the complete redemption. On Purim this inner human power was generated, and so the mem belongs to Purim -- this is why the mitzvos of Purim begin with the letter mem. In the 40th (mem=40) year since the Previous Rebbe this is all the more evident, it will bring the true redemption through Mashiach.

On Purim an important theme in all the special mitzvos is Jewish unity. We have explained how on Purim the loftiest hidden powers are brought into kinetic reality. So that even in the golus when the light of G-d is concealed it will be drawn into all aspects of the world. Even in the diaspora the Jewish people remain "one people" through their ahavas Yisrael, Jewish unity and their unity with G-d, which reveals the common inner essence of their Jewishness and it evokes a perception of the unity of G-d in the whole world. This innovation introduced by the Purim experience, connected to Jewish unity, was actually part of the Purim story. Haman tried to portray the Jews as being dispersed and spread out among all the nations -- so that when we were granted the miracle of Purim our celebration of the miracle involved sending gifts and charity for the poor through which we emphasize Jewish unity and we bring Jews close together.

The festive meal of Purim is also a time of closeness with the less fortunate, as the Rambam writes, "there is no greater joy than to make the hearts of the poor, orphans, widows...happy...." (Laws of Megillah 2:17)

The mitzvah of Megillah reading is also connected with Jewish unity since the halachah rules that it is important to gather a minyan for Megillah reading. It is more praiseworthy to be part of an even larger crowd.

The words "mefuzar" and "meforad" (spread out and splintered) also begin with the letter mem, but this is the mem of the "other (evil) side" which nevertheless has a good aspect. This positive facet is revealed when we emphasize Jewish unity. Then we realize that G-d dispersed us among the nations so that we may reveal His unity even in those places of dispersion. In that way we close the mem and bring immeasurable peace and redemption through Mashiach, Miyad (now) Mamash (truly).

Strong effort should be placed on all the Purim activities with unity and special emphasis should be made that many people should gather not only for Megillah reading but also for all the mitzvos of Purim. To conclude the golus we must increase Jewish unity. If you know of a single Jew in some far corner of the world -- bring 9 more Jews to him so that he may conduct the mitzvos of Purim with a minyan.

At your festive Purim meals gather your families and then take time to visit other friends and join in other festive meals -- as was the custom in many communities in days gone by.

In giving charity there should also be emphasis on large numbers but it must be done in a respectful and discreet manner so as not to embarrass the needy people. This includes giving charity to the trustees of charity finds and putting money in the charity box at home -- especially the one affixed in the kitchen.

There should also be emphasis on confirming that which was accepted, the renewed commitment to Torah and mitzvos for the ensuing year, so that all action is imbued with faith and self-sacrifice, in a way that the hidden powers come into revelation. This should be effected among each and every Jew to forge them together as one nation and to reveal the unity of G-d in the world.

The element of zealousness is very important as we will read at Minchah -- Tzav alludes to zealousness now and in the future generations, and this will bring the revelation of the great treasure of the future.

On the first verse of Vayikra, Rashi explains:

[The L-rd] called unto Moshe -- An oral communication of the L-rd to Moshe whether they are introduced by daber or by omar or by tzav were preceded by a call (to prepare him for the forthcoming address) (Sifra). It is a way of expressing affection, the mode used by the ministering angels when addressing each other, as it is said (Yeshayahu 6:3) "And one called unto another [and said, Holy, holy, holy is the L-rd of hosts]". To the prophets of the nations of the world, however, G-d revealed Himself in a manner which Scripture describes by an expression ordinarily used for denoting events of a casual character of uncleanness, as it is said, (Bamidbar 23:4) "and G-d happened to meet (vayakar) Bilaam." The term vayakar, from the root karah is connected with mikrah which denotes "chance," "occurrence," and has also the meaning of "uncleanliness."

We take an important lesson from this in our own Divine service. The Torah turns to each Jew with the love that G-d has for every Jew, this also increases the mutual love of the Jewish people.

This is the language of the angels among whom there is no jealousy. The difference between vayikra and vayakar is the letter alef which graphically depicts the connection between G-d and man. In an alef there is a Yud above -- symbolizing G-d -- and a yud below symbolizes man, and a vav which connects them into one entity; one letter whose numerical value is One! Here we have the unity of every Jew with G-d and the resulting unity of the Jewish people. This unity prevails even in the place of disunity.

The portion also speaks of the eternal covenant of salt. Salt is a preservative; it also destroys unwanted elements and esoterically it neutralizes the severity of gevurah. It also brings healing. In our Divine service we should apply this metaphor of salt. Our Divine service must be eternal, our bond to G-d and love for G-d, faith and self-sacrifice should be revealed and eternalized and this must include the animal soul, for through the salt all negative aspects will be washed away. This brings total commitment no matter how dispersed we may be. The word melach (salt) also starts with a mem to close the open mem and bring Mashiach.

May our actions speed the redemption with the increased joy of Adar which breaches the boundaries of the golus, and let us see one redemption brought close to the other -- but in reversed order -- first the complete and true redemption -- now -- then Purim etc. May Mashiach come even before Minchah, here to this great house of Torah, prayer and charity of the Previous Rebbe and then we will pray Minchah, together with the Tamid sacrifice, in the Third Beis HaMikdash.

  4th Day of Adar II, 5749Ta'anis Esther, 5749  
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