Dvar Torah for Purim


Based on Likutey MoHaran I, 66

“Mordekhai the Jew was... accepted by most of his brethren.”
(Esther 10:3)

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) Purim is definitely in the air. (So is Pesach [Passover]. Especially when you walk past a matzah bakery!) So, we’ll try to get started a little early with both.

The climax of the Megillah begins with the sudden downfall of Haman and ends with the defeat of the anti-Semites who tried to bring his goal of making the world Judenfrei (God forbid!) to fruition (7:8–10; 9:1–16). The demise of the wicked and of wickedness is a distinct feature of the World to Come. However, says Rebbe Nachman, we cannot be content with waiting till then for this to take place. We have to bring some aspect of this into the world as it is now. By what means can we accomplish this?

Rebbe Nachman quotes the prophet Tzefanya (Zephaniah 3:9) that in the World to Come all mankind will pray exclusively to Hashem (God). The Rebbe explains that this will come about due to the great revelation of truth that will take place then. Such a revelation of truth is necessary now in order to remove from the world the wickedness that prevents mankind from uniting in prayer. Wherein does this truth have to be expressed?

It must be expressed in honest prayer, prayer that is solely for Hashem’s sake. That is, our prayers have to be meant to please Hashem and not anyone else. For one’s prayer to be so honest s/he must be careful not to be a nitzrakh l’briyot (dependent on others). This needing others can be a need for money, honor, prestige or other favors. If during prayer a person makes any sort of movement or motion (including saying or singing the words in a particular way) that is intended to influence any person around him, his prayer is not-true and cannot reveal any of the World to Come.

But none of us is such a hypocrite as to actually daven (pray) merely to impress or fool others. We are honest, at least to some degree, and wouldn’t actually put on a show for others. Rebbe Nachman himself writes this and then warns: “Don’t fool yourself.” Sometimes we are aware that we do in fact want to impress someone else, but are embarrassed to somehow feign enthusiasm just for his/her sake. So, we convince ourselves, in some convoluted fashion, that we really do have to raise our voice or clap our hands. But the Tester of Hearts knows the truth, and the Truth is one: To pray only for God’s sake and for no other reason.

(Nonetheless, one should always try to pray with others in a shul [synagogue] because of all the benefits that both s/he and the congregation gain. Just try to be a little more honest!)

What does this have to do with Purim? The downfall of wickedness. of Haman-Amalek, took place because Mordekhai the Jew realized that he needed no one. He was fearlessly honest, even when that honesty seemed to endanger his life (3:6). It was that same honesty that allowed him to pray in a most un-orthodox way (4:1). It was that “for God’s sake” prayer, its truthfulness, that brought about the downfall of the wicked and gave us joyous foretaste of the World to Come (9:21–22).

agutn Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!