The story of Purim is a metaphor that tells us about the role of the Jewish nation and about its last breakthrough to wholeness. Mordecai seems weak and helpless at first. He sits at the king’s gate and seems powerless, a typical Jew in the diaspora. Opposite him is a respectable minister, Haman, who sees that he can annihilate the Jews who are in exile.
Question: Why should he annihilate the Jews?
Answer: Haman feels that they disrupt his rule. It is true that the Jews are in exile under a foreign domination and anyone can humiliate them, but, despite the fact that they are defenseless, they have an enormous concealed attribute that the nations of the world cannot stand.
Everyone around them feels that they don’t have the major asset that the Jews have and that they never will have it. They feel that we understand better and are more strongly connected to some holy secret of creation.
I remember that decades ago an elderly woman in Siberia where no one had even seen Jews told me, “the Creator loves you.” It turns out that during WWII when her mother told her about the fascists’ intentions, she said, “Hitler won’t win since he is operating against the Jews.”
This feeling is alive among the nations of the world. This is the reason that Ahasuerus and especially Haman wanted to annihilate us. This is the reason for the holocaust, although it seems that we didn’t bother the Nazis. Our very existence is painful and hurts those around us, as if we are preventing them from reaching wholeness.
We gave humanity the Torah, the source of the two major religions. We lay the foundations for education and culture. We are a nation that seems to rule the world not by power, but by wisdom, by depth, by being close to the concealed secret sources of creation, which others cannot attain. This is a heavy burden for the nations.
A Threatening Factor
However, we can reach goodness only through the recognition of evil. This is the reason that we need Haman who invokes the evil in us so that the conflict with him will push us toward goodness. Without this factor we wouldn’t have returned to the land of Israel from the exile. Haman invokes fear in the Jews, a very serious, existential fear. Then, Mordecai sends Esther to ask the king for help so that he would annul the sentence.
In reply, she says, “I cannot. Whom shall I go with? I need a desire, a deficiency. I need a necessity. I need to bring the people’s cry to the king. I have nothing of my own to tell him. Gather the Jews in the capital city and tell them to fast and pray to the Creator for three days.” Esther cannot come to the King empty handed. She needs a request that can be born only out of fasting, when the Jews want nothing but connection and unity among them. This is what Mordecai must explain to his brothers, that only connection and unity between them can save them, and if not, they are going to die. It is one of the two.
Two Royal Faces
Then, the Jews listened and saw that they were not united, and they wanted to be. It is with that desire that Esther came to the King, and he did help, but this is already the upper king. Ahasuerus is only one side of the Creator, the leadership with the attribute of Din (judgment). Besides that, there is the side of mercy.
The Jews must try to reach unity and see that they cannot do so. Indeed it is not in our power to truly unite. Still, as the book of Esther tells us, if we ask for help from above with the right deficiency, we get it. So, instead of Haman, Mordecai rides the horse, and we reach success, our highest state, and a happy life.
From Israeli Radio Program 103FM, 2/1/15