Monday, March 01, 2010

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Purim is Revelation of Hiddenness

by Rav Nati at Mystical Paths

How did Mordechai do it? How did he unite a splintered and conflicting Jewish nation? How did he unify the conflicting parts of every Jewish soul? With one way, because this one way resolves both conflicts. Because the resolution of either conflict effects a resolution of the other.

When the point of Mashiach in every Jewish soul is revealed, then the Moshiach will appear (Likutye Halakhot, Hashkamat HaBoker 1:8, 15).

Due to his efforts to save the Jewish people, Mordechai was obligated to curtail his Torah learning. As a result, his rank in the Sanhedrin was lowered (Megillah 16b; Yoreh Deah 251:14 look at the Bach, Taz).

There were those of us who had literally abandoned the Torah. Not out of wickedness, but out of ignorance and despair. We even went as far as to marry out, turning our backs on Jewish life, divorcing ourselves from Torah. We became lifeless Jews. And there were those of us who even while learning Torah "abandoned" it (Megillah 11a).

We, too, became lifeless Jews. Because we stopped yearning and learning Torah for a life permeated with G-d awareness. We were not at all interested in viewing Torah as a vehicle of closeness to Hashem. Instead, we were satisfied to have no aspirations other than it's auxiliary benefits i.e. honor and prestige and a life of luxury.

But Mordechai was a Tzaddik who cared, he cared for his lifless brothers. He wanted to bring us back to life. But how was he to do it when only the Torah can give life and we were divorced from it? So Mordechai had to "divorce" himself from his studies, he curtailed his studies.

The world existed even before the Torah was given. Not by merit of our fulfilling Hashem's revealed Will, but rather by the bounty of His unconditional gifts. This is the treasure that Hashem created for those whose only merits are fulfilling of His hidden will. Because even in the mundane we fulfill His will, the will that created the world. And in every mundane act is hidden the Torah, the hidden Torah which gives life to the mundane world (Likutey Moharan ii,78).

Rare is the Taaddik who can draw from this Hidden Torah - the Torah that existed before it was given. But the one who can opens the treasure chest of Hashem's unconditional gifts.

And to open the treasure chest, to draw life from there, such a tzaddik must observe the hidden Torah. He must abandon his learning and involve himself in the mundane affairs. He must act like a commoner, like a man of the world, and conceal what a great Tzaddik he is. And thus he elicits the Unconditional Gift of the Life and draws it for every person, because this great Tzaddik does not ask Hashem for favors in virtue of his merit. Though he knows well the Torah hidden in the affairs of the world, that knowledge does not make him feel meritorious. So keeping the Hidden Torah while hiding himself well, he beseeches Hashem to bestow His Unconditional Gifts.

So Mordechai the Tzaddik decreased his learning in order to give life to his brothers. And giving us life, he saved our lives from Haman's decree against all the people.

But Mordechai's peers could not understand him. No matter how they tried to look at him or how hard they tried to understand his words and deeds. He was so much greater than they that he was peerless. Even 85 sages, many of whom were prophets, had their doubts about Mordechai's greatness (Ruth Rabbah 4:5) How could it be that in such days of darkness, a person could attain such greatness? They hadn't. And the Sanhedrin judged by what they saw that Mordechai had ceased his learning. And though permitted to do so to save the people, he forfeited his esteem and was demoted.

They did not see what Mordechai concealed, that he had never ceased his learning (Ya'arot Davash I,17, Avodat Yisrael, Zakhor). He was learning the Hidden Torah and humbly accepted his demotion (Mishnat Rebbi Eliezer 10, Marit HaAyin, Shekalim 5).

And to allude to this Torah and express it in halakhah, Mordechai made two provisions:

1) That the Name of Hashem should not be apparent anywhere in the mundane story of Megillah. Rather, His Name should be hidden, in acronyms, throughout the Megillah (Sha'ar Hakavanot, Purim; Likutey Halakhot, Purim 4:4).

2) that Halakhah permit the suspension of Torah study to allow one to hear Megillah reading (Orach Chaim 687:2).

But Megillah reading itself is Torah learning, what need is there to ask permision? The answer is that Mordechai excluded the megillah reading from the status of Torah learning (Rav Soloveitchik). And he did that to show us that even when we can't learn for whatever reason, we can still learn. We can learn Hidden Torah.

Shushan Purim Samayach,
Reb Nati


yaakov said...

metsuyan! reb nati, yasher koach!
this piece merits expansion. the insights to mordechai and the 'hidden torah' are precious for all of us today when so much is concealed both in ourselves and the world. yasher koach, maybe write some more on this, todah rabah!

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