Secrets of the Jewish Year
Holiday Messages and Meditations on the Jewish Year
The Jewish Month of Adar
| Adar According to Sefer Yetzirah
Purim from the Torah
The Megilah and Kabbalistic Terminology
Purim, Purim, Purim is Ours
Purim – A Time of Action
Purim, Purim, Purim is Ours
In the “Beis Yaakov” siddur (“prayer book”) we find a song for the night of Purim: “Purim, Purim, Purim is ours; Blessed be the One who chose us” (the other stanzas reflect the signature of the author: Yosef Shalom).Chabad tradition provides an interpretation for the rhymed words of this marvelous song:
“Purim, Purim, Purim is ours; blessed be the One who chose us.” Based on the teachings of the Tanya, “Purim, Purim, Purim” can be understood to represent the three Divine contractions in the process of creation. The secret of contraction reflects the “consultation” as to whether or not (in the original: “yes or no”) the souls of Israel should be created. This “consultation” is alluded to in the root of the word for Purim, which is Pur, meaning “lot.” Ultimately, however, the inner intention was for Jewish souls to come into existence.
By definition, a lot is an object used in deciding something by chance. Therefore, in a lot, all possibilities are essentially equivalent. For the lot, “yes” and “no” are equal. This is alluded to in the two words for “yes” and “no” in the Aramaic idiom quoted above:
The word for “yes” is hen, which is numerically equivalent to the word ha’kol (55), meaning “all” in Hebrew. Furthermore, the word for “no” in Aramaic, lav, is numerically equivalent to the Hebrew word hevel (37), which means “vanity”. These two words form together the central phrase of Ecclesiastes” (1:2): “all is vanity,”–ha’kol hevel. This is the meaning of a lot.
A Divine contraction is the act of G-d withdrawing His Infinite light in order to establish space for creation. This “light” represents the Divine will, G-d’s pure, “simple” will to bestow goodness on His creations. In contrast, in the space vacated by the contraction, all is equivalent: there is no essential distinction between good and evil, there is no preference, there is no choice. Thus, the correlation between the Divine contraction and the concept of the lot can be seen. Likewise, in the vacated space, one cannot perceive any difference between Jew and non-Jew. When there appears to be no essential distinction, then heresy becomes possible through the denial that G-d chooses Israel as His People, and distinguishes them from all the other nations in the world.
In Megillat Esther, we read concerning Mordechai: “in Shushan, the capital, there was a Jew (Yehudi)?a Benjaminite” (Esther 2:1). Mordechai was from the tribe of Benjamin (Ish Yemini); yet he is called a Jew (Ish Yehudi). On this verse the Sages ask, “Who is a Jew?” The answer given is: “Whoever denies idol worship [the ideology of Haman, who believed that essentially all are equivalent, yet created himself as an idol to be worshipped] is called a Jew.” By denying idol-worship in a vigorous, daring manner (as exemplified by Mordechai, the Jew) one repairs the source of atheism and idolatry rooted in the vacated space, and reveals that the Divine contraction is not to be viewed literally and concretely. Even when the Divine will is hidden, His forceful essential desire in choosing Israel cannot be denied. As quoted above: “The inner intention was specifically that there would be Jewish souls”–and the lot only appears to render all equivalent in order to allow for the possibility of free choice.
The Secret of G-d’s “Consulting”
At the level of the highest spiritual roots, the three Divine contractions parallel the three “jumps” or “leaps” discussed in Chassidic thought:
the leap from G-d’s essence, as it were, to the level of G-d’s Infinite light,
the “leap” from the level of G-d’s Infinite light that surrounds all spiritual worlds to the level of Infinite light that fills all spiritual worlds (that is, from the level of the great circle that surrounds all, to the level of “line and thread” of Divine light that enters into the vacated space and is enclothed in all creation, as a soul is enclothed within a body),
the “leap” from the level of Infinite light that fills all the worlds to the level of worlds emanated and created (world in Hebrew is olam, expressing the “hiddeness”–he’lem of G-d’s Infinite light in the “lower” worlds).
Before each “leap” there is the secret aspect of “consulting” (the King of Kings consults with his “advisors”)–“With whom did He consult? With the souls of the righteous ones, the Tzaddikim” (“and all of Your people areTzaddikim“). G-d consults with the spiritual roots of the souls of Israel before each “leap” as to whether or not He should create the Jewish people. As quoted above:–“The secret of contraction reflects the consultation as to whether or not the souls of Israel should be created.”
Regarding the verse (Genesis 2:l): “And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host,” (Tzva’am) the Sages explained “in accordance with their own desire (Tzivyonam cognate to Tzva’am–host) they were created.” The Jewish people are known as “G-d’s hosts.” Thus, the desire that one’s own self appear in the world that G-d created finds its fullest expression in the Jewish soul. Although externally there is no apparent difference between a Jew and a non-Jew, inwardly (at the soul level), the Jew is unique and distinct from the other nations of the world (since his soul, as explained in Tanya, “is in reality a part of G-d”). Before each leap, G-d asks the Jew if he agrees and desires to externalize and materialize his existence, to be “disguised” and to descend into gross, material existence where his uniqueness will not be apparent (in order to spiritually clarify and fix that space until the distilled truth will be revealed to all). The Jew agrees, and that is what is meant by “Purim, Purim, Purim is ours.” We descend through all the contractions, yet we remain bound to G-d’s essence, the source of choice–“Blessed be the One who chose us” essentially and eternally.
What inner message do these three contractions signify? The first contraction, that of the “leap” from G-d’s unknowable essence to His level of Infinite light, reflects the revelation of G-d’s love for all creation (since He is essentially good and the nature of one who is good is to be good to all?”G-d is good to all; His mercies are on allHis works” (Psalms l45: 9), not only to “my first born: Israel.”
The second contraction, the “leap” from the Infinite light that surrounds all the worlds to the Infinite light that fills all the worlds, reflects the understanding that, “You give them all life,” (Nechemia 9:6). G-d brings into existence, enlivens and sustains all His creations, and in His goodness, He renews each day and every minute the work of creation. At this level, the sense of Israel’s uniqueness is hidden still further.
The third contraction, that of the “leap” from Infinite light filling all the worlds (by means of the “line and thread” of Divine light) to the level of created worlds (“world” is cognate to “hiddeness” in the Hebrew original, as mentioned earlier), points to G-d’s choosing to hide Himself within space–“You are indeed a G-d who hides Himself” (Isaiah 45:15). This is the secret of the question, “Where do we find Esther in the Torah?” “And I will surely hide my face”–Deuteronomy 3l:l8. (Esther’s name comes from the Hebrew word hester–“hiddeness”). The face, signifying Israel, is entirely hidden (to such a degree that each nation claimed Queen Esther as its own, as the Sages teach). Concerning the secret of this third contraction, it is written: “there is none other,” (Deuteronomy 4:39)–even in the empty, vacated space of the world. G-d’s essence is present in every point of space, though in total concealment from the eyes of flesh and blood.
Thus, the miracle of Purim is the revelation of G-d’s essence through the process of the final contraction–the revelation that “Israel and the Holy One Blessed Be He are one.” Similarly, we note that at the time of Purim the Jews chose to renew their acceptance of the Torah; for the Torah is a manifestation of the Divine light that reveals the essential unity of G-d and Israel.
The Jewish people choose the “three-fold Purim”–“Purim, Purim, Purim is ours”–and indeed we are chosen to reveal the absolute truth that “no space is devoid of Him.” The Jewish people create for G-d a dwelling place in our lower, material world. The secret of the name of the Jewish month in which Purim falls is Adar—A(lef) dar(Alef, the first letter, refers to G-d; dar means “to dwell”). In consequence, we merit through “G-d is all and all is G-d”–that G-d, the Supernal, Beloved One, unifies with His beloved, Israel, the chosen one of His heart–Blessed be the One who chose us”–“as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride” (Isaiah 62:5). “The Jews had light and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Esther 8:l6)–so may it always be for us!
Photo Credit: NachumSegal.com