26 February 2018

Baal Shem Tov on Megillah


THE BAAL SHEM TOV ON PURIM

The Baal Shem Tov gives another interpretation: If you read the Megillah as past history, as something that happened to Mordechai and Esther long ago, you have not fulfilled your obligation. 

Why? 

Because the story told by the Megillah is absolutely relevant to us here and now!

In order to understand how those events are relevant to us, we need a little explanation…
The essence of the story of Purim began many years before the times of Mordechai and Esther, Haman and Achashverosh. Purim really began not long after Bnei Yisrael had come out of Egypt. After all of the miracles which had taken place, all the nations of the world were afraid of the Jewish People — all of the nations excluding Amalek. Chassidus explains that the numerical value (the gematria, for those of you who know the word) of the Hebrew word Amalek equals the gematria of the word safek — doubt, skepticism. Amalek had also heard of the miracles which took place.

But the Amalekite philosophers argued,
“Come on, what are you talking about? G‑d is interested in what goes on down here? Those weren’t miracles. They were lucky coincidences!” 
And so they attacked the Jewish people, cooling down the fear of G‑d and the dread that other nations had of us. Others too began to be skeptical about the miracles that had taken place…

In later generations, Amalek clothed himself in the treacherous Haman, who demanded the total destruction of the Jewish people. And so, in every generation, there is an Amalek, a Mordechai and an Esther.

That which cools down the enthusiasm to fulfill HaShem ’s will is none other than Amalek. You’ve most probably heard something like the following many times:
“You’re not going to eat only that kosher certification, are you? Come on. Don’t be such a fanatic!” 
Or, after you have just come out of a shiur :
“You’re walking around with these books, just like a bochur in Yeshivah ?” 
And then you say,
“Maybe I am being too religious; maybe I should just cool it! Maybe I took this upon myself prematurely; maybe I’m not ready for it.” 
And so you start questioning what you’re about to do.

Amalek can come from many different places. From things that you read, from what people say, from you yourself. But the end result is all the same:

“Come on, don’t get so excited about Yiddishkeit.” 

That’s Amalek and you have to fight it. Because when you fight Amalek, you will be together with Mordechai and Esther! And when you win — because you will win if you are determined to do so — then you will get a taste of Purim as it will be revealed in the future.

5 comments:

My1ambition said...

Something I thought about over shabbos:
Amalek = doubt (Safek) as they “cooled down” the Jewish passion.

Haman of Persia (today Iran) is from Amalek (Ha’Agagi) and tries to squash us and our passions for Yiddishkeit.

Just a few weeks ago (On Shabbos Shekalim - connected to Purim and the silver that Haman used to bribe Achashverosh), Iran shot down an Israeli fighter jet in Syria (obviously connected to the final war of Gog Umagog).

Just a few days ago, Iran went on record saying “Israel is no longer invincible”. The SAME message that Amalek tried sending to the world about the Bnei Yisrael just after leaving Egypt.

The messages and timing could not be more precise. We need to overcome Amalek (definitely some people in Iran) by conquering our inner Amalek (doubt) and Persian which Chassidus explains come from the word Pras (reward). We need to serve Hashem with no ulterior motive or reward. This will bring the downfall of Iran and Damascus which are “keys to true peace in the Middle East” (words are from the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1973)

Neshama said...

Thank you for adding your thoughts.
I would say that Persia doesn’t want to quash us, but is fixated on KILLING the Jews.

How about quashing the inner amalek embedded in the Erev Rav?

My1ambition said...

In a sense they know that can’t kill us yet they try anyway. Much like Amalek in the desert. Evil doesn’t think long term. It’s sikply interested in making it through the day. That’s the nature of evil.

As for the inner Amalek in the Erev Rav I’m not familiar. Who is the Erev Rav? As far as I’ve learned, anyone from the Jewish people who stops the progress of Moshiach and tries to get people away from Torah and Mitzvos are the Erev Rav. In that sense, it’s our own Yetzer Hara.

I heard recently of a Medrash which states that the Nations will bring gift to Moshiach. What gift can they possibly give? They will bring the yidden (Erev Rav) who refuse to go to Eretz Yisrael with Moshiach fulfilling the prophecy that no Jew will be left behind.

Neshama said...

I’m working hard today after a couple days under the weather.

I don’t agree that all Jews’ inner Yetzer Hara equates with the Erev Rav.

Rabbi Winston Shlit”a says “The golden calf was the outgrowth of the insecurity of the Erev Rav. Egyptian idol worship, like all idol worship, felt like it put them in control of their lives, or so they thought. It was a manmade religion, so it was custom-designed to suit man’s perspective on life. Even the way idols were worshipped was self-serving. Though the Erev Rav in Egypt had gravitated towards the ways of the descendants of Ya’akov, the Erev Rav had proven themselves incapable of making the leap to a G–D-originated religion. That is why G–D strongly advised Moshe Rabbeinu not to allow them to accompany the Jewish people out of Egypt. He didn’t listen. The golden calf was the result.”

Most of the Erev Rav live in Israel, and fight her tooth and nail; they don’t want the Torah of Hashem, G–D.

Why would the Nations give a gift? Bribery? They are guilty of not wanting the Torah, and will challenge Hashem with, “if only . . ."

Anonymous said...

I agree here with Neshama's comment about the Erev Rav. I read a very good booklet about the Erev Rav written by a Rav Saloman (forgot his first name; it was a while back). The title was 'The Erev Rav, 3 thousand years of Treachery'. He writes that H' allowed Moshe Rabbeinu to let them shlep along but warned him 'that they are NOT sincere', but still allowed (guess this is where history has to play itself out until Moshiach comes). They caused the Eigel Hazahav sin. They were steeped in tumah and knew black magic. They have been a thorn in the sides of the Jewish people since Matan Torateinu. They are usually in powerful positions and wealthy. An example would most likely be a George Soros and all those who work against the Jewish people and especially the holiness of Torah and the Land of Israel. Do not believe they will be capable of doing teshuva because their whole existence is to stop Moshiach from coming and redeeming the Jews and the world. We should not give credit where it is not due!