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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

Ta'anis Esther, 5749

Purim, 5749

   After Minchah

Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749

Shabbos Parshas Tzav, Parshas Parah

Machne Israel Special Development Fund

Yechidus

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

Yechidus

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

Purim, 5749
After Minchah
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  Ta'anis Esther, 5749Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749  

1

The holiday of Purim emphasizes the idea of new development. Though new development can also come about through increasing the resources one has available, the most complete dimension of new development is associated with transformation. This is revealed on Purim which represents the transformation of our people's deepest agony to a state of great joy.

This aspect of new development is clearly seen in the practices of Purim, the reading of the Megillah, Mishloach Manos, and presents to the poor and also the four mitzvos that our Sages associated with the verse: "For the Jews there was light, happiness, gladness, and honor." Our sages commented, "'Light' refers to Torah, 'happiness,' to the festivals, 'gladness,' to circumcision, and 'honor,' to tefillin."

The reading of the Megillah is associated with wiping out the memory of Amalek, for Haman was an Agagite, a descendant of Amalek. Therefore, by reading the Megillah, one fulfills the positive commandment to "Remember what Amalek did to you." Thus, the reading of the Megillah represents a new concept, the fulfillment of a Rabbinic mitzvah -- the latter being, in our sages' words, "more precious" and "more severe" than the mitzvos of the Torah -- in addition to fulfilling the Torah command to remember Amalek.

This is related to another concept associated with the remembrance of Amalek. On the Sabbath before Purim, we read the portion Zachor, "in order to connect the destruction of Amalek to the destruction of Haman." The Rabbis explain that by reading the portion Zachor, on the Sabbath before Purim, one fulfills a positive mitzvah from the Torah. Therefore, some authorities require even women to hear the reading of the portion Zachor, for the remembrance of Amalek is a positive mitzvah which is not associated with a specific time.

This concept requires explanation. It is Jewish custom to recite six verses of remembrance each day after the morning service. One of these remembrances concerns Amalek. Indeed, it is customary each day to recite the entire passage which is read as the portion Zachor.

On the surface, by reciting this passage, a Jew also fulfills the mitzvah of remembering Amalek. When the Rabbis stated that by reading the portion Zachor, on the Sabbath before Purim, a Jew fulfills a positive mitzvah of the Torah, they did not intend to be restrictive, implying that just then, one fulfills a Torah commandment. Rather, whenever a Jew recites the passage -- for our sages explained that the remembrance must be made verbally -- he fulfills the mitzvah. For example, when he recites the six remembrances after the prayer service on Shabbos Zachor, he fulfills the same positive commandment that he did when listening to that reading.

A parallel to this concept can be seen in regard to the mitzvah of tefillin. Even though one fulfills the mitzvah by putting on tefillin in the morning, if one continues wearing the tefillin, one continues fulfilling the mitzvah. [In particular, there is a difference in this regard between the tefillin worn on the arm and those worn on the head. The Torah commands us to "tie them (the tefillin) as a sign on your arm," i.e., the mitzvah is the act of tying and afterwards, wearing the tefillin is merely an extension of that activity. In contrast, the Torah commands that the head tefillin "shall be an ornament"; i.e., that the mitzvah is that "the tefillin shall be" and thus, as long as the tefillin are upon one's head, one fulfills the mitzvah.]

Thus, one can ask: What is the new dimension which is added to the mitzvah of remembering Amalek that is possessed by the reading of the portion Zachor, over the recitation of this passage after the morning service?

This question cannot be answered by drawing a parallel to the difference between the mitzvah of remembering the exodus from Egypt daily and the recollection of the exodus on Pesach night. Though the exodus is recalled twice daily, that recollection is only general, while on Pesach night, the story of the exodus is retold with all its particulars. However, such an explanation cannot be used in regard to the remembrance of Amalek, for the very same passage that is read on Shabbos Zachor is recited each day.

Similarly, the fact that the portion is read from a Torah scroll and in public is not at all related to the essential mitzvah involved in recalling Amalek. These added factors enhance the mitzvah, but they are not fundamental to its fulfillment. Similarly, the association of the portion with Purim by reading it on the preceding Shabbos does not, in its own right, establish it as a mitzvah. Rather, the mitzvah is fulfilled by reciting the passage every day.

[The Rebbe Shlita did not resolve the above question. However, he concluded that:] surely, reading the portion from the Torah adds a new emphasis to the fulfillment of this mitzvah. Similarly, the reading of the Megillah on Purim contributes a new dimension, the observance of the Rabbinic commandment of Purim, to the fulfillment of the mitzvah of remembering Amalek.

A similar concept applies in regard to the mitzvos of mishloach manos and gifts to the poor: Mishloach manos expresses the love which a person feels for a friend. Thus, it is an expression of the mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael, the love for one's fellow Jew. There are a number of ways this mitzvah can be fulfilled, beginning from the recitation of statement before prayer (as is Chassidic custom): "Behold, I accept upon myself the fulfillment of the positive commandment, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Similarly, this mitzvah can be fulfilled by many other activities including giving gifts of food as in mishloach manos.

Thus, by fulfilling the Rabbinic mitzvah of mishloach manos, one also fulfills the Torah commandment of ahavas Yisrael. Thus, it is also a new development, adding the observance of the Rabbinic commandment to the performance of the existing Torah commandment.

Similarly, the mitzvah of gifts to the poor is related to the mitzvah of tzedakah. Fulfilling the mitzvah of gifts to the poor is also a fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzedakah. Nevertheless, establishing this practice as one of the mitzvos of Purim endowed it with unique importance as a special Rabbinic command.

As mentioned above, the same concept also applies in regard to the four mitzvos, Torah study, festivals, circumcision, and tefillin that are associated with the verse: "For the Jews there was light, happiness, gladness, and honor." Haman had decreed that these mitzvos should not be observed and after Haman's downfall, these mitzvos were fulfilled with more enthusiasm and commitment. Though on one level, there is no difference between the fulfillment of these mitzvos on any other day of the year and on Purim, nevertheless, the verse's association of them with the Purim holiday implies that Purim adds a new dimension to their observance.

In particular, it can be explained that a parallel to each of these mitzvos exists in the world at large, but, nevertheless, G-d's granting us these mitzvos introduces a new dimension to their performance.

For example, the concept of Torah study exists among gentiles as well. They must study the laws governing the seven mitzvos which they are obligated to fulfill. However, it can be explained that their Torah study is only a preparatory step for fulfilling those mitzvos and not a desired activity in its own right. Even according to the opinions that maintain that their Torah study is also a desired act, it surely cannot be compared to the new development with which the giving of the Torah endowed the Torah study of the Jewish people. The unique oneness with G-d that a Jew establishes by Torah study cannot be reached by gentiles, even the "pious of the gentiles."

Similarly, a parallel to the concept of the observance of the festivals exists in the world at large. The festivals were instituted as an expression of thanks to G-d for the miracles which He performed on our behalf, e.g., Pesach is an expression of thanks for the miracle of the exodus. The obligation of expressing appreciation exists among the gentiles as well, for it is one of the fundamental principles of establishing stable human relations. Nevertheless, the mitzvah of celebrating the festivals includes in it a far greater dimension, for the fulfillment of this mitzvah establishes a bond that connects a Jew with G-d.

A parallel to this idea also exists in regard to circumcision. The Rabbis have explained that, in certain cultures, it was customary for an owner to brand a sign of ownership into the flesh of his servants. Similarly, circumcision is a sign that we are the servants of G-d. Nevertheless, the mitzvah of circumcision introduces a new dimension to this practice, making it an act of connection to G-d and not merely an expression of His dominion over us.

This is reflected by the name, bris, which means "covenant." A covenant was established by dividing an animal in half and the two parties walking between the two halves. This bounds them together as a single entity (Likkutei Torah). Similarly, through the bris, their covenant with G-d, the Jews become one with Him.

This idea is also obvious from the age when the mitzvah is fulfilled, eight days. At this time, the child himself is not obligated in the mitzvah, nor does he comprehend it. Nevertheless, by circumcision, he enters into a bond with G-d that transcends understanding.

A similar idea also applies in regard to tefillin which can also be considered as a sign that we are G-d's servants. Indeed, our Sages have associated the verse, "And all the nations of the earth will see that the Name of G-d is called upon you," with the mitzvah of tefillin. Here, too, the tefillin are more than a sign of ownership and represent a transcendent bond with G-d. Furthermore, this connection is openly displayed in a manner that can be perceived by "all the nations."

Our Sages declared, "All the mitzvos are equated with tefillin." This implies that the fulfillment of the mitzvos also establishes a bond of oneness with G-d within the context of the material articles with which the mitzvos are fulfilled. This bond will be perceived by the nations and, as the above verse concludes, motivate them "to fear you." This fear is a preparatory stage for the time when, G-d's sovereignty will be revealed throughout the world with the coming of the Messianic redemption.

May we witness the fulfillment of the verse, "For the Jews there was light, happiness, gladness, and honor" this Purim, both in a simple sense and also in association with the mitzvos as mentioned above. May the joy of Purim, a joy which transcends the limits of intellect, ad d'lo yoda, be drawn down in the entire year to come.

In particular, this is relevant to those who travelled or who will travel to spread Purim joy to others living in distant places, distant physically and distant spiritually. May these efforts hasten the coming of the Messianic redemption and may we proceed from the redemption of Purim, not only to the redemption of Pesach, but also to the Messianic redemption.

The Rambam writes that, "The Torah has promised that ultimately, the Jews will repent in the final exile and they will be redeemed immediately." Teshuvah is "in one moment and in one minute;" i.e., it is above time. With one turn, we will see how the entire Jewish people, men, women, and children, are all proceeding to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Temple. May it be now, in the immediate present.

After Ma'ariv

2

On the verse, "these days are recalled and celebrated," Rashi explains: " 'Recalled,' through the reading of the Megillah; 'Celebrated,' through the drinking, festive rejoicing, giving gifts and presents." The plural usage of the verbs "recalled" and "celebrated" can be associated with the fact that the Megillah is read twice, two presents must be given to a person as mishloach manos, and presents must be given to at least two poor people.

The idea of "recalling" the days of Purim is that the celebration of these days should make a permanent impression on our souls. This is also reflected in the Rambam's decision that the celebration of Purim will never be nullified; i.e., even in the Messianic age, the celebration of Purim will be significant.

Therefore, it is appropriate to continue the celebration of Purim at least in regard to those aspects where it is easy to do so, for example, giving presents to the poor. Also, the celebration of Purim should be continued. This celebration is by nature, boundless, transcending the limits of intellect, ad d'lo yoda. This does not mean merely fulfilling this obligation as it states in the Shulchan Aruch, drinking until one falls asleep, but reaching the state of ad d'lo yoda in its simplest meaning, without seeking any special license or compromise. Happy is the portion and great is the merit of anyone who will follow this course of action. May others observe him and follow his example.

There is a Divine promise that no bad will result from this. On the festivals, the court would send emissaries among the people to make sure that the festive celebrations were kept within bounds because of the possibility of undesirable results. However, no such emissaries were sent on Purim. On the contrary, special leniency was shown in certain areas in order to allow for increased celebration.

All of the above is also relevant on the night which follows the fourteenth of Adar. Firstly, as regards all sacred matters, the night follows the day and, therefore, the limbs from the sacrifices could be offered on the altar at night. Thus, all the matters which are relevant on the fourteenth of Adar are also relevant on the following night.

Also, this night shares a direct connection with Purim, for the walled cities celebrate Purim on this night. Indeed, there are many places, who because of the doubt whether they possessed a wall during the time of Yehoshua's conquest of Eretz Yisrael, celebrate Purim on both nights. Thus, even in the places where the celebration is only held for one day, in a spiritual sense, each of the days represents a different service.

May we proceed from the redemption of Purim to the Messianic redemption. There is added emphasis on the celebration of Purim this year because it is a leap year and also, the fortieth year after the Previous Rebbe's passing. Also, the day on which Shushan Purim falls, Wednesday, possesses a unique quality, being the day on which the luminaries -- the sun, the moon, and the stars -- were created.

The latter concept is also related to the spreading of Chassidus. The Alter Rebbe noted that the Baal Shem Tov's passing and his own redemption from prison took place on Wednesday. Thus, this day is associated with the spreading of the wellsprings of Chassidus outward. This activity is the preparatory stage for the revelation of G-d's essence in the Messianic age.


  Ta'anis Esther, 5749Motzoei Shushan Purim, 5749  
  
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