Classical Q&A and Chassidic explanations

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Q&A on Adar

What does the word Adar stand for? [1]

The Alef represents Alufo Shel Olam, which refers to Hashem. The word Dar means to live. In the month of Adar we are able to accomplish that Hashem dwell below in this world and fulfill Dirah Betachtonim.


Why is one to rejoice in the month of Adar?

Rashi[2] explains that the reason for increasing in joy in Adar is due to the miracles that occurred on Purim and Pesach. The Rebbe[3] explains Rashi to mean that the entire month is a meritorious month for the Jewish people, due to the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu was born on this month, and it is due to his merit that we merited the miracles of Purim and Pesach. This is why Rashi also mentioned Pesach in his explanation. It was the birth of Moshe in this month that gave the Jews the strength to stand with Mesirus Nefesh the entire year and be ready to give up their lives Al Kiddush Hashem.[4]


Q&A on the Purim miracle

Why the Holiday is called Purim:[5]

The word Purim is a Persian word. The Megillah states “Therefore they called these days Purim based on the word pur.” Pur means a lottery, and refers to the lottery cast by Haman to determine the date on which the Jews were to be exterminated. The festival which celebrates Haman’s downfall and the deliverance of the Jewish people is thus named Purim. This however begs the following question: A lottery in Hebrew is goral. Why is the name of this festival in the Persian tongue, Purim, and not in the Hebrew, Goralos, as are all other festivals? Secondly, it would surely be fitting that the name of this festival express the miracle and deliverance experienced by the Jews, as do all the other festivals. The name Purim expresses the exact opposite: It is named for the lottery which Haman cast to determine when the Jews would be exterminated.

The explanation is as follows: The Purim miracle shows how Hashem directs even the natural order of things, and in truth, even that which appears hopeless and set for doom, is being guided by Hashem. Many negative matters occurred throughout the Purim story that, in retrospect, is seen as part of the pattern of events that Hashem was directing in order to bring about the salvation. Thus we call the name of the Holiday Purim, a Persian word that represents the evil decree, as in truth the Purim miracle taught us how even in the matters that appear as opposite of blessing, Hashem forms our salvation within them.


Sparks of Chassidus:[6]

A lottery represents an action that is above intellect, a random draw that has no motif behind its results. This represents the level of Or Ein Sof which is above Hishtalshlus, the order of the worlds. It is from this level that Hashem brought the salvation to the Jewish people, as this level contains a boundless love for the Jewish people that is not even limited to their observance of His Torah. It is similar to the level revealed on Yom Kippur that forgives us of all our sins. Thus in truth Haman, who tried to use a lottery to predict our annihilation, in truth aroused the level of “lottery” above in Hashem and from it came our salvation and his own downfall. Hence the word Purim, lottery, represents not the decree, but the source of our salvation.


What form of miracle occurred by the Purim story?

The miracle of Purim occurred through the Divine providence directing natural events, and not through nature breaking miracles. Hashem arranged for Vashti to be killed and Esther to be appointed in her place. Hashem arranged for Mordechai to be the guard of the gate of the king and hence overhear the plot of assassination. This is not due to the low state of revelation of Hashem experienced during that period of exile, but on the contrary, it came as a result of a very high revelation of G-dliness, even higher than that expressed in revealed miracles that change nature. When Hashem performs natural miracles it is because the revelation is so great that it cannot be revealed without being invested within the concealments of nature.[7] This form of miracle experienced by Purim corresponds to the form of sin done by the Jews that caused the evil decree to begin with. They sinned by participating in the feast of Achashveirosh under the claim that they must respect his wishes, being that even according to Hashem they are now in exile under Achashveirosh’s authority. Hashem thus performed a miracle which shows them that even nature is directed by Hashem’s hand.[8]


If the Jew’s would have left their religion would they have been spared from the decree of Haman?[9]

Yes. The decree of Haman was only against Jews. If the Jews would have converted to a different religion, Heaven forefend, they would not have been included in the decree. The Jews stood with Mesirus Nefesh, ready to give up their lives for Kiddush Hashem, for the period of almost a full year. Not even one Jew even entertained the thought of leaving his religion.


Q&A on the Purim celebration

Is Purim a Rabbinical or Biblical holiday?

There are opinions[10] which rule that all holidays instituted to commemorate a miracle of G-d have Biblical status, and hence they rule that the commemoration of Chanukah and Purim are of Biblical origin. Nevertheless even according to this opinion the form of how to commemorate the miracle is only Rabbinical, and hence the reading of the Megillah, and other matters involved in the commemoration of the miracle, are Rabbinical according to all.[11] Nevertheless even these Rabbinical forms of commemoration are of Biblical origin, as the Torah commands one to adhere to the words of the Sages and not swerve from their words.[12]


The difference between the celebration of Chanukah and Purim:

The reason for why by Purim the Sages established the rejoicing to be done with a meal, as opposed to Chanukah, is because the decree against the Jews during the period of Chanukah was not to smite the body of the Jewish people but rather to eliminate their culture and soul. Hence Chanukah is celebrated in a spiritual manner. This is in contrast to Purim in which the Jewish people as a whole were threatened to be annihilated due the fact that they were Jews, and hence the decree was against the body of the Jewish people.[13] Alternatively, since the miracle of Purim occurred through the feasts of Esther, therefore the Sages established the commemoration of Purim to involve festive meals. However on Chanukah that the miracle occurred with candles, the commemoration is also through candles.[14] Alternatively since during Purim we completed the acceptance of the Torah that was given by Matan Torah, therefore they established the celebration with food, being the Torah is a parable to bread.[15] Alternatively since the miracle of Purim was a lot greater than that of Chanukah, as they did not require soldiers to fight the enemy and even the gentiles themselves fought for the Jews, therefore they established a festive meal as a commemoration.[16]


Will the Purim celebration be nullified in the future?

The Sages[17] state that in the future all the Holidays will be nullified with exception to Purim [and Chanukah[18]]. [This does not mean that the other Holidays will not be in existence, but rather that the G-dly revelation in the times of the redemption will make the revelation of these Holidays unapparent. However the revelation of Purim is so great that it will even shine within the light experienced by the redemption.[19]]



The essence of Amalek-The source of evil:[20]

The verse states “Reishis Goyim Amalek”, that the first of the nations is Amalek. This means that the beginning of evil is signified by Amalek. Amalek is the source of all evil. It is for this reason that we are commanded to wipe them out and obliterate their name and memory. What however is so terrible about Amalek that their evil is considered the root and source of all other evil? Amalek represents “Gasus Haruach” and “Yeishus”, an absolute feeling of ego and self, not leaving room for the existence of any other person. It is this feeling of Yeishus that serves as the source of all the other evil character traits, and their subsequent deeds. The greater the ego and feeling of self that one contains; the more intense are his desires and lack of tolerance of others. This leads to having intense love for worldly matters that cannot be controlled, and leads to absolute intolerance of others to the point of hatred and murder. Amalek cannot accept anyone who is better or greater than him, and such a person is viable to receive the bitter hatred of Amalek.


Concealing feelings of love of Hashem in the heart:[21]

Amalek represents the concealment of spiritual feelings from entering into the heart. It covers over one’s inner love for Hashem and discourages a person from feeling excitement in his service of G-d.



Amalek is the Gematria of Safek.[22] Amalek enters doubt in one’s service of G-d. Amalek enters doubt and skepticism in all matters of spirituality. He serves to cool one off from his spiritual motivations by casting doubt in all of his positive beliefs, emotions and actions. Amalek wears many garments, sometimes even spiritual garments, in order to cast doubt into one’s service of G-d and cause him to lose motivation.


The children of Haman learned Torah in Bnei Brak:[23]

Even Haman contains aspects that can be refined. The Gemara[24] states that the descendants of Haman eventually converted and learned Torah in Bnei Brak. The spiritual counterpart of Haman in holiness is the courage and boldness that one has in his service of G-d.


[1] Meor Eiynayim [Rav Nachum of Chernobyl] Parshas Teruma

[2] Taanis 29a

[3] Likkutei Sichos 16/345

[4] Sefer Hasichos 1992 p. 395

[5] Likkutei Sichos 6 p. 189-195; For a Chassidic explanation of this matter, see the Mamar “Al Kein Karu Leyamim Haeilu Purim Al Shem Hapur” recited on Purim 1953, printed in Melukat Adar p. 65.

[6] Mamar “Al Kein Karu Leyamim Haeilu Purim Al Shem Hapur” recited on Purim 1953, printed in Melukat Adar p. 65.

[7] Likkutei Sichos 15/370; Shaareiy Orah Yaviu Levush Malchus 12; Torah Or p. 93; 100

[8] Likkutei Sichos 31/174

[9] Torah Or p. 91 and 97; See Sichas Purim 1955 p. 23

[10] Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah 233; According to all reading the Megillah is one of the 7 Rabbinical commands.

[11] However if one passes the Holiday without performing any form of commemoration of the miracle then he has transgressed a Biblical command according to this opinion. [ibid]

[12] Shabbos 23a; Admur 158/16

[13] Levush 670/2 brought in M”B 670/6

[14] Mamar Mordechai 670/3; Machazik Bracha 670/4

[15] ibid

[16] Kaf Hachaim 670/11

[17] Midrash Mishley 9; Yalkut Shimoni Mishleiy 944; Pirkeiy Direbbe Eliezer 46

[18] Igeres Hatiyul Drush 40; Hachaim 3/287; Rebbe in Shaareiy Moadim Chanukah 51

[19] Torah Or Esther 1st Mamar; Sefer Hasichos 1990 p. 347; See Mamar “Kol Hamoadim Beteilim” 1961 [printed in Toras Menachem 30 p. 123]; Sefer Hamamarim Admur Hazakein 1/394

[20] Torah Or p. 83, 91, 99; Sefer Hamamarim 1920 p. 292-301

[21] Torah Oar Tetzaveh p. 83

[22] Keser Shem Tov Hosafos 18; Sefer Hamamarim 1919 p. 294; Sefer Hamamarim 1949 p. 65; Toras Menachem 19 p. 66

[23] Torah Or p. 93

[24] Gittin 57b

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