Monday, February 26, 2018


Esther: A Breslov Commentary on the Megillah (BRI), Chapter 1, pp. 10-12

He was the ACH ash ve ROSH—(Ach means brother or kinsman; rosh means head or the one in charge)—the brother of the grandiose one (Megillah 11a). He was the Achashverosh who reigned from Hodu (India) to Kush (Ethiopia)—over the entire world (ibid.).

But we still don’t see it.
The ultimate insanity!
But we have yet to look.

In fact, we consider it “normal”—the way things are. The idea—the delusion—that one of us is “better” than the other, or the very idea that we can be compared. Can we say that an adult is better than a child, or that one person’s God given talents should be compared to another’s? It’s like comparing two colors or two fruits—is blue better than beige, are plums better than pears?

But in our distance from God, in our feeling apart from Him, we feel an inner vacuum, a loss of true self. So the inner question “Who am I”‘ is answered: “I’m better than he is,” or “I’m not like that.” And we never stop to wonder how out of touch we are if we think and espouse insanity like that.

Now, Haman was a nothing, a real nobody. He had been a village barber and a bathhouse attendant (Megillah 16a). But, over-inflated by ACH ash ve ROSH to grandiose proportions, he tried to allay his feelings of no self.

The “Haman” of the soul comes from the Vacuum—the realm of existence “vacated” by God. So whenever we enter the Vacuum, we feel like nothing and feel compelled to compensate by aggrandizing our selves. And sometimes we fill the inner Vacuum with vicarious pride by “bowing to Haman,” by idolizing the misperceived “betterness” of someone else’s self (Likutey Halakhot, Tefillin 6:23).

So ACH ash ve ROSH’s airs are all permeating. He reigns not only from India to Ethiopia, but from Hodu, the majestic, to Kush, the lowly. [1] Because when we “live” in Hodu we are externally “better”—by virtue of our talents or possessions. And when we “live” in Kush we are externally “lesser”—by virtue of our lack of talent or possessions. Yet, wherever we “live,” we are unequalled—by virtue of simply being our very own selves. And to see one another as “better” or “lesser” is insanity and a negation of our own selves (Likutey Halakhot, Orlah 5:16).

But to let go of this madness and leave the Vacuum, we need a “Mordekhai the Tzaddik” to show us the way. Because Mordekhai the Tzaddik personified greatness, not an external greatness, but a greatness which stemmed from a humble self Since he knew the secret of true humility, he was not compelled to aggrandize himself (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #140). And he shows us how to let God in, leave the Vacuum and find our true selves.

Then we have no need to compare ourselves with others. We are even humbled before our own selves (Likutey Moharan I, 14:5; ibid. 79). Because we then know that our self is not our’s to compare with another’s—it is our essence, our Eternal Spark, our Godly self (ibid. 22:5; see Crossing The Narrow Bridge, Chapter 17).

So on Purim we exchange courses of food with one another to show that we are all equal. To those who have nothing we also give, so that they too should know they are equal.


[1] The Purim story took place in the Persian Achaemenid Empire. At that time, "Hodu," or India, was an enormous conglomerate and a relatively advanced ancient civilization, while Kush, although wealthy in resources and fiercely nationalistic, was a small vassal state to the south of Egypt.

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