The meaning of the Holiday

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The Holiday of Purim is a memorial day in the life of every Jew. It contains something unique that stands out differently than every other Holiday. This is not just a personal feeling, but is the perspective of our Sages[1] which state that in the future all the Holidays will be nullified with exception to Purim. The Alter Rebbe states that the joy of Purim surpasses the joy of any other Holiday.[2] This shows the special status related towards this Holiday, surpassing all the other Holidays. The reason for this is because on Purim we revealed a part of our relationship with Hashem that had never been revealed before, even by Matan Torah. It is due to this that the Sages[3] state that on Purim we completed the acceptance of the Torah. This is because by the Purim episode we remained faithful to Hashem despite the threat of annihilation, and despite there not being any incentive in doing so. This revealed the essential bond between Hashem and the Jewish people and for this reason the Holiday of Purim will never be abolished. This revelation occurs anew each year on Purim and hence it is celebrated on a level that differs from all the other Holidays. Purim is the time for a Jew to engage in his essential bond and unity with Hashem and have this bond spread throughout his service of Hashem throughout the year.


Based on the Mamar “Vikibel Hayehudim”[4] and “VeAta Tetzaveh”[5]

Re-accepting the Torah on Purim:

The verse states “Vekiblu Hayehudim Es Asher Hichlu Laasos”. The Gemara[6] expounds this verse to mean that the Jews finished the completion of the acceptance of the Torah on Purim, as by Matan Torah it was only the beginning of the acceptance.[7] At first glance this statement seems puzzling, as how was the Torah not fully accepted by Matan Torah, and how was it any more accepted on Purim? On the contrary, by Matan Torah we gladly recited Naaseh Venishmah, and experienced a strong love and passion to unite with Hashem through His Torah. We willingly took the Torah upon ourselves without any seeming coercion or outside factors. However on Purim we were threatened with annihilation, and hence accepted the Torah out of force, in order so Hashem rescind the decree. How then can one possibly say that the acceptance of the Torah was greater in the times of Purim than the acceptance at the time of Matan Torah? This matter can be understood based on an earlier statement of Chazal regarding the manner of which we accepted the Torah by Matan Torah.


The ulterior motives of accepting the Torah by Matan Torah:[8]

The Sages[9] state that by Matan Torah, Hashem placed a mountain [“Har Kigigis”] over our heads, threatening that it will become the place of our burial if we refuse to accept it. Based on this the Gemara concludes that we did not truly accept the Torah until the times of Achashveirosh. This however begs the following question: In truth we already agreed to accept the Torah even prior to the threat of the mountain and hence why did this threat affect our status of acceptance of the Torah? We had recited Naaseh Venishmah several days prior to the occurrence with the mountain. The Rishonim[10] state a tradition that when we were told in Egypt that we would receive the Torah, we became exceedingly excited to the point that we began counting down the days until Matan Torah. This eventually became known as the Mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer.[11] Hence what purpose did the threatening mountain serve? The Alter Rebbe[12] explains the meaning of this statement, based on Chassidus, to refer not to an external threat of a physical mountain, but rather to a metaphoric description of our motivations and eager desire to accept the Torah at the time of Matan Torah. The term Har [mountain] refers to a very high level of love of G-d. The term “Gigis”, which is a bucket, represents that this passion encompassed every fiber of our being. When the Jewish people left Egypt they were coming from the depths of physical suffering into the epitome of luxury, and witnessed countless nature breaking miracles performed by Hashem. By Kerias Yam Suf every Jew experienced a revelation of G-dliness and prophecy greater than that experienced by any of the prophets of the later generations. We were the recipients of a boundless show of love from Hashem. All this aroused an indescribable passion and love for Hashem and his Torah, and hence it is without wonder that we were willing and excited to receive it. This then is the meaning that we were forced by a mountain over our heads to accept the Torah, as the loving actions of Hashem “forced” upon us a love for Him that is so strong that we were emotionally blinded in our decision to accept the Torah. Thus the acceptance of the Torah in the times of Matan Torah was tainted by the emotional state of mind that we were in, and hence cannot be considered a complete acceptance. 


The acceptance of the Torah in the times of Mordechai:

In the times of Mordechai we were within the 70 year period of exile, between the first and second Temple. Exile is not just a physical change in the presence of the Jewish people in Israel, but is also a concealment of the emotional attributes that we have for Hashem. During exile, G-dliness is concealed and we do not feel any love or passion for Him. Thus there was no emotional motivation to move us to accept the Torah in the times of Mordechai. Furthermore, even from a physical perspective, the continued observance of the Torah is what threatened our very existence during the time of the decree of Haman. The decree of Haman was only against Jews. Thus if the Jews would have converted to a different religion, Heaven forefend, they would have not been included in the decree.[13] Hence we had no spiritual motivation to accept the Torah during the times of Mordechai and even on the physical level, accepting the Torah at that time, prior to the victory of the 13th of Adar, would cost us our very lives. There was absolutely no benefit involved in accepting the Torah then. It is on the acceptance of the Torah during this period of time that the Sages state that we finally completed the acceptance of the Torah, as we accepted it without any ulterior motifs.


Why did we accept the Torah at the times of Mordechai?

The above explanation begs the following query: Every decision one makes in life has a reason that leads him to make that decision. At times the reasons of our decisions are intellectually based and at times they are emotionally based. However, all in all, people do not make decisions without a reason. What then was the reason that we decided to continue observing the Torah in the times of Haman, by the cost of our very lives, if we could have simply left our religion, Chas Veshalom, and be saved from the decree? When a Jew gives up his life Al Kiddush Hashem, what is the cause and reason behind this decision? What motivates and causes a Jew to have Mesirus Nefesh for Hashem and His Torah. The explanation is as follows: Every Jew contains a G-dly soul that consists of five levels; Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, Yechida. The Yechida is the highest level of the soul and is completely united with Hashem Himself in a complete unity. It is an actual part of Hashem. During exile, when the Jewish people are placed under threat for following Hashem’s Torah and Mitzvos, this level of Yechida is revealed. On this level a Jew cannot even begin to entertain the thought of being separated from Hashem or His Torah, just like one cannot entertain the thought of staying alive without a heart or brain.[14] This is the hidden source of our ability to perform Mesirus Nefesh and give up our lives Al Kiddush Hashem. This power is found within every single Jew, even the most simple and unlearned Jew, and was the cause for why the Jewish people did not even entertain the thought of leaving the Torah in order to be spared from the decree. This reason for accepting the Torah can never be changed. This is in contrast to the motivations we had by Matan Torah, which were emotionally based, and hence viable to the potential decrease of our observance upon the emotion becoming concealed. The acceptance by the times of Mordechai was an essential acceptance that can never be changed or removed and hence it is defined as the completion of our acceptance of the Torah. 


A Parable:

A bachelor was attempting to win the hand of a potential bride. He showered her with gifts, words of affection, and care. Her womanly emotions were aroused and after some time she excitedly agreed to his marriage proposal. After the marriage, upon the newlywed couple settling into their daily life routine, the once experienced level of affection and gifts began to decline. This led to a decrease of feeling for her husband, as her emotional feelings of love were solely aroused based on these acts. They had not yet lived long enough together to share a deeper bond and connection. At the couples 50th year anniversary they looked back at the once external and superficial love they shared, based solely on the excitement of the external acts of affection and gifts. They now share a ceaseless bond that is unaffected by gifts or words and is an essential soul connection. The Jewish people at the time of Matan Torah are compared to the bride that was showered with gifts and affection by Hashem, which is called the groom in the word of the Sages. It was under this influence that we accepted the ring of marriage with Hashem, which is the Torah.  It was only hundreds of years later, in the times of Achashveirosh, that our essential bond and connection with Hashem was revealed, and our acceptance of His Torah became a ceaseless bond that is unaffected by gifts and affection shown by Hashem.


The Mamar of “Vikibel Hayehudim” 1927:[15]

The above Mamar of Vikibel Hayehudim was recited by the Rebbe Rayatz in the Chabad Shul in Moscow, in the year 1927, under the threat of the Stalinist leadership. The Mamar was said at the height of persecution, led by the communists and Yevsektsiya, against the Jewish religion. Any Jew that was found supporting or upholding a Jewish religious institution, including synagogues, Mikvaos, and schools, were persecuted and sent to labor camps in Siberia. It was at the height of this time that the Rebbe Rayatz recited this Mamar, in the center of Moscow, with full knowledge that members of the Yevsektsiya and communist regime were present. The Rebbe Rayatz emphasized in that Mamar the need for Mesirus Nefesh in serving Hashem, a clear reference to the type of service required fighting the evil Stalinist regime. The talks of the Rebbe that night were filled with courage and open threats to the Yevsektsiya and made those present shiver with fear of their very lives, due the potential outcome of such daunting words being said in the face of the evil enemy. The Chassidim called in the Rebbe’s mother, Rebbetzin Rivkah, to attempt to persuade her son, the Rebbe, to stop with this talk. He told his mother “I am not doing any of this on my own accord; I have received guidance from my father”. The Rebbe then fainted and needed to be taken into the next room and reawakened. As a result of this Mamar, and the Rebbe’s leadership in keeping the spirit of Judaism alive, the Rebbe Rayatz was arrested several weeks later, on the 15th of Sivan that year. 


The greatness of the day

The revelation on Purim:[16]

All the levels that were revealed on Matan Torah were revealed during the times of Purim.[17]


The revelation of Or Haganuz:[18]

On Purim the Or Haganuz is revealed, just like it was revealed by Matan Torah.


Reaccepting the Torah on Purim:[19]

Every Purim we add and strengthen our complete acceptance of the Torah, just as was performed originally at the time of the Purim miracle. This is accomplished through our Avoda of Ad Delo Yada on Purim, leaving the spiritual constraints of our intellect and serving Hashem with the essence of our soul.


Purim and Yom HaKippurim:[20]

Yom HaKippurim means the day that is like Purim. This is because Purim and Yom Kippur both share the same spiritual aspects. Both days involved a Gorel, lottery. On Purim the lottery was made by Haman and on Yom Kippur a lottery was made by the Kohen Gadol. On Yom Kippur we perform Teshuvah Ilaah, the higher form of Teshuvah, and on Purim we merited to reach the level of Teshuvah Ilaah through our Avoda of Mesirus Nefesh in the year of the decree. There is however a difference in regards to the revelation of these two days, as on Yom Kippur we receive the revelation through fasting and abstaining from pleasure, while on Purim we receive the revelation through drinking wine Ad Delo Yada.


Auspicious day for prayers:[21]

It is stated in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that on Purim one is to awaken early and bequest Hashem with prayer and supplication on all matters that pertain to his life, family, and livelihood. This day is similar to Yom Kippur, which is a day of prayer, as also Purim is a day of auspiciousness for one’s prayer to be accepted before Hashem.


Sweetened judgment:[22]

It is brought in the name of the Tzaddik, Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv, that the judgment that we received on Rosh Hashanah is sweetened on Purim.



The joy that we are commanded to experience on Purim surpasses that of any other holiday.[24] The reason for this is because the Mesirus Nefesh expressed on Purim brought down a higher revelation than any other Yom Tov.


A Lesson from the Purim miracle:

The Baal Shem Tov taught[25] that one who reads the Megillah “Lemafreia”, retroactively, does not fulfill his obligation. This means to say that one who reads the Megillah and thinks that it is a story of a past event, without any future implications, does not fulfill his obligation. The message of the Megillah is eternal for all generations, and is hence to be taken as current events that affect one’s daily service of G-d.

Turning to Hashem prior to any other reaction:[26] When the Jews were threatened with the decree, the first reaction was not to send messengers to appeal the decree before Achashveirosh, or to use their connections to the inner circle of Achashveirosh and his Jewish wife Esther. Rather Esther and the entire community fasted for three days, and only then, after she appeared weak and with lack of her physical beauty as a result of the fast, did she appear before the king. From this we learn that when one is faced by a matter of suffering, the first reaction must be one of spiritual nature, to bequest Hashem’s mercy and repent, even if one has viable natural ways of dealing with the issue.


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

[2] Torah Or Esther “Chayav Inish” 2

[3] Shabbos 88a

[4] Mamar Vikibel Hayehudim of the Rebbe Rayatz, recited Purim Katan 1927, printed in Sefer Hamamarim 1927 p. 110; This Mamar is based on the Mamar in Torah Or p. 98 “Chayav Inish Lebesumei”.

[5] Mamar Ata Tetzaveh of the Rebbe, recited on 10th Adar Rishon 1981, printed in Melukat 6; Sefer Hamamarim Adar p. 34. This was the last edited Mamar distributed by the Rebbe to Chassidim. It was distributed on Sunday Parshas Ki Sisa 1992 to men, women and children.

[6] Shabbos 88a

[7] So is the wording in the Mamar Vekibel Hayehudim ibid and Torah Or “Chayav Inish” p. 98; In the Gemara ibid the wording is “They fulfilled what they already accepted”.

[8] See Mamar Vekibel Hayehudim ibid

[9] Shabbos ibid

[10] Ran Pesachim 28a

[11] Ran ibid

[12] Torah Or “Chayav Inish” p. 98b

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

[14] From the perspective of the Yechida, when a Jew is threatened with his life or his religion, it is similar to a mugger telling his victim “either make yourself no longer exist or I will kill you”. Both options given mean death, and it is impossible for one to make himself disappear. Similarly it is not possible for the Yechida to stop being attached to Hashem and His Torah, as that is its very identity. 

[15] See Yoman Purim Katan of Rebbe Rayatz, printed in Likkutei Dibburim 5/1324; Kovetz Megillas Purim 1927; Igros Kodesh Rebbe Rayatz 1/632; 4/16; Likkutei Dibburim 5/1284; 5/1386-1393; Sefer Hasichos 1927 p. 165; Hisvadyus 1984/1066; Regarding the connection of Stalins death on Purim 1953 and the unusual events that transpired in the Purim Farbrengen that Purim-see Beis Moshiach 641; Mamar of “Al Kein Karu Hayamim Haeilu Purim” recited on Purim 1953 [Mugah].

[16] Torah Oar Esther p. 90

[17] The reason: The verse states “Vekiblu Hayehudim Es Asher Hichlu Laasos”. The Gemara [Shabbos 88a] expounds this verse to mean that the Jews finished the completion of the acceptance of the Torah on Purim, as by Matan Torah it was only the beginning.

[18] Sefas Emes Purim 98

[19] Sefer Hamamarim Melukat Adar p. 64 [Mamar “Vikibel Hayehudim” Purim 1951]

[20] Likkutei Torah p. 190

[21] Segulos Yisrael 80/4

[22] Daas Moseh Derush Chanukah in name of Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchiv

[23] Sefer Haminhagim p. 172

[24] Torah Or Esther “Chayav Inish” 2

[25] Sefer Divrei Shalom Parshas Bo; brought in supplements of Keser Shem Tov 100, p. 336; Sefer Hasichos 1987 p. 351; Likkutei Sichos 6 p. 189, 386; 7 p. 332; Sichas Purim 1976

[26] Likkutei Sichos 1/214


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