Monday, February 22, 2021

Breslov Teachings On Purim

From the anthology Oztar HaYirah (Likutei Eitzos HaMeshulosh), Purim.

These selections are, in turn, from Reb Noson’s Likkutei Halakhos.
Translated by Dovid Sears

The Sitra D’Mosa [“Side of Death,” meaning the state of estrangement from God, Who is the source of life] is primarily derived from self-importance. This is the root of the klippah (“husk”)—the spiritual force that seeks to obstruct the light of holiness, associated with Haman and Amalek, the archenemies of the Jewish people. (4)


The main strategy of the klippah of Amalek is to attack the weak by convincing them that there is no hope, God forbid. [1] However, by finding the good point within yourself, even when you seem to be in a state of spiritual decline, you conquer Amalek. (1)


Through the simcha (joy) of Purim, it is possible to gain lofty perceptions— to attain "the ultimate knowledge, which is not-knowing." The seemingly opposite paradigms of "knowing" and "not knowing" coalesce and become one. Every trace of evil disappears, for at this exalted level, all is one, and all is good. (9)


When the holiness of Shabbos enters the world, the klippah of Amalek is subjugated. The Wine of Drunkenness, from which we refrain, is supplanted by the Wine of Joy. When we recite the Kiddush over wine, a spirit of holiness encompasses all the souls and holy sparks that were extricated from the realm of the klippos during the six days of the week, and now, with the advent of Shabbos, they ascend to their place of rest.

Their main path of ascent is through simchah (joy) and the Kiddush that we recite over the wine, which is an aspect of the Wine of Joy. Through this, our "hot blood" is tempered, and we can serve God with a heart inflamed with devotion.

This is why on Purim, which celebrates the extirpation of the seed of Amalek, it is a great mitzvah to drink wine to the point of intoxication. On Purim the wine is an aspect of the Wine of Joy, which destroys the klippah of Amalek; for the main downfall of Amalek is accomplished through simchah. (20)


The klippah of Amalek, which manifests itself as false wisdoms and heretical philosophies, derives from the Chalal HaPanui—the Vacated Space that precedes all creation.[2] Because of this precedence, it is axiomatic that on all levels of reality, “the klippah precedes the fruit.”

Thus Amalek is called reishis (the "first")— "Amalek was the first of nations" (Numbers 24:20); its power derives from the Vacated Space that precedes creation altogether. Analogously, Esau was born before his twin brother, Jacob, and was considered to be the firstborn son.

However, in truth, the holy transcends everything; God is the primordial reality, and God created the Vacated Space. Therefore, Israel, by power of their simple faith that God transcends and precedes everything, can ascend beyond all the wisdoms and heretical philosophies that come from the Vacated Space. This is why Israel is called the "firstborn," as the verse states, "My child, my firstborn, Israel" (Exodus 4:22), and why Jacob took the right of the firstborn from his brother, Esau, from whom Amalek descends.

This faith destroys the klippah of Haman and Amalek, and reveals the Song of the Future World. [3] (3)


On Purim a great and wondrous light shines forth that reaches the very depths of this lowly World of Action: the spiritual light of Mordechai and Esther. Just as gazing upon the face of the true tzaddik is spiritually transforming, [4] so is the experience of this lofty light. Through it, we attain humility and nullify our self-importance, which is the klippah of Haman and Amalek.

The reading of the Megillah in particular reflects this, for the light of the holy faces of Mordechai and Esther is hidden within the Megillah, the scroll that they composed. When we read their words in the Megillah, the light of their faces shines upon us, and it is as if we gazed upon them in person. Our higher consciousness becomes charged, as it were; our self-importance falls away, and we attain true humility. This is the eternal life of the World to Come.

Lowliness and the "pride" that derives from the side of holiness become as one, in keeping with the verse, "In the place you find His greatness, there you find His humility." [5] This fusion is the ultimate perfection of humility. Thus, on Purim our sages command us [6] to drink wine "until you do not know the difference between: Arur Haman (Cursed is Haman)," which corresponds to nullifying the ego," and “Baruch Mordechai (Blessed is Mordechai)," which corresponds to holy pride. This leads to true joy, the simchah of Purim. (5)


[1] The nation of Amalek attacked the weary and enfeebled Israelites on their journey through the wilderness, sexually abusing and dismembering their captives; see Rashi citing Midrash Tanchumah on Deuteronomy 25:17-19. Amalek is a symbol of human cruelty throughout rabbinic literature, much like the Nazis in the contemporary experience. On a deeper level, the Kabbalists point out that word Amalek bears the same gematria (numerical value) as sofek, meaning "doubt." Thus, the klippah of Amalek is the voice within us all that denies God and the true tzaddikim and simple emunah (faith).

[2] The Sefer Eitz Chaim of the Ari z"l begins with an abstruse account of the mysteries of creation: In the beginning, the Infinite Divine Light was omnipresent. When it arose within His will to create the universe, God constricted the light to the “sides” in all directions, leaving a Vacanted Space (Chalal HaPanui). Into this Vacated Space, God "beamed" a thread of the light that had been constricted; and from this thread of light all things, spiritual and physical, derive their existence. For a practical application of this teaching in divine service, see Likkutei Moharan I, 49.

[3] Likkutei Moharan I, 64.

[4] Likkutei Moharan I, 4.

[5] Megillah 31a.

[6] Megillah 7a. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 695:2 for the halachic parameters of this law, which are quite lenient in the case of a person who is weak, or otherwise incapable of drinking to the point of intoxication. This obligation does not apply to women.

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