Since it is Purim today, we need to say l’chaim, so l’chaim, l’chaim v’livracha!
Opening the previous JTNews, I saw the Purim edition called “The Backward” and this brought to my mind an interesting halachah I learned in yeshivah not too long ago.
In the laws regarding reading the Megillah on Purim, the Talmud teaches us a very interesting law: if someone reads the Megillah backwards, he did not accomplish the mitzvah of reading the Megillah properly and he needs to re-read the entire scroll.
Now, we know that on Purim everything is done backwards because we commemorate the “Venahapoch Hu” — the turnover of the evil decree of Haman the wicked to a grand miracle. But here is the question: why should someone read the Megillah backwards? The Megillah is the story of Purim; what type of meshugas is this to read a story backwards?
The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement, teaches that the meaning of reading backwards means that the reader reads the Megillah like something that happened a long, long time ago, far away in our history, instead of reading it like something that is happening right now.
When a person reads the Megillah and learns the story of Purim, he has the obligation to feel and sense that the story of Purim is happening right here within him. The Jew needs to feel like he is one of Mordechai’s followers and he needs to know that within him there is a Haman and a Jew who battle against each other. Haman is the evil inclination that we have within us, trying to bring upon us all types of evil behaviors and addictions. Esther is our neshamah, our Godly soul, that wants holiness and spirituality and wants to illuminate our body with the teachings and light of Mordechai and God. Mordechai is the Rebbe of the generations, who gives Esther the guidance and the direction on how to deal with all the evil forces in the king’s palace.
The reading of the Megillah brings to our mind the sense of understanding of the tactics Haman uses against the Jewish nation. Haman comes to the king and tells him that the Jewish people are “Mefuzar Umeforad” — a people divided, who are lacking unity and lacking completion. Through these evil words he gets the king to agree to his diabolical decrees.
Haman gains his strength when he knows the Jewish people are separated from each other. He gains his power when he knows that one Jew turns his back on another, when one brother doesn’t talk to another brother, when there is no unity, and the Jewish people live as individuals and lack a sense of community and oneness. Then Haman can succeed with his evil plans.
On the other side we have Mordechai, the Rebbe, who leads the battle against Haman. How does he do that? The Megillah tells us “Umordechai lo yichra velo yishtachave,” that whenever Haman walked down the street, everyone was obligated to bow down to him. Mordechai, however, did not do so. He did not bow and he did not fall. The power of Mordechai in winning the war against the evil Haman was that Mordechai stood strong.
Throughout the time that Esther was in the palace, Mordechai sat at the gates of the king to make sure his beautiful adopted daughter did not become comfortable with the lifestyle of King Achashverosh’s palace.
Mordechai — the Rebbe —guards and watches over the beautiful souls of Jewish people all around the world that wander into the palaces of strange kings and kingdoms and ensures there will be a reminder for them that they don’t really belong at those palaces. Their being at that palace is just temporary and is for a mission to achieve goodness for their brethren.
This teaches us contemporary Jewish people that Haman in every generation changes his mask; however, the common denominator between all the Hamans is that they all want the Jew to bow down and fall to them. They want to see weakness and compromise. All the Hamans in all generations have thrived in times of a lack of unity among the Jewish people. This is what Mordechai was teaching: that all Jewish people need to find a connection between them; and, even more than that, that a Jew needs to stand firm and strong and not show any weakness to the little Haman that wants to bring him to his knees. A Jew needs to dress with his yarmulke over his baseball cap and his tzitzit should be hanging out from the corners of his pants — in simple words, to be a Proud Jew. Then, and only then, can we see the miracle and witness salvation.
L’chaim, l’chaim ulivracha!