Saturday, March 10, 2012

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Hints from Purim

by Reb Aharon Rubin, author of Eye to the Infinite at Mystical Paths

The Gemoro says that Mordechai is hinted at in the Torah in this week’s sedrah: מר דרור, translated by the Targum as מריא דכיא, which has the same letters as Mordechai. מריא דכיא is a sweet-smelling spice, literally pure myrrh.

Esther also had another name, mentioned once in the Megilloh – Hadasoh, meaning myrtle, an aromatic plant [used on Succos as one of the four types].

What do Mordechai and Esther have to do with spices? Why are their names bound up with the sense of smell?

The Gemoro tells us that at the time of the Purim story, accusations were levelled against the Jews for partaking in Achashverosh’s banquet but the Heavenly court decided in their favour, as their sin was לפנים – on the outside; though they had sinned, this was not a true indication of their inner self, their neshomos. Their souls, though perhaps tainted on the outside by their sin, remained pure at their core.

The Gemoro [Brochos] says that the only sense that provides delight for the soul, and not for the body, is the sense of smell.

It is perhaps for this reason that Mordechai and Esther’s names are bound up with the sense of smell. Mordechai and Esther represent the soul of the Jews at that time, their collective point of purity. Even though the Jews had sinned, their souls remained pure; their sin was only on the outside, their inner beings were still entirely bound up with G-d.

It is perhaps for this very reason that we dress up on Purim; to show the futility of the outside covering – the outside לבוש, ‘garment’, is not an indication of what lies within; on the contrary, the outside covering belies the true inner essence. We dress up to show how to laugh at the outside covering, the dressing-up…

Perhaps with this idea we can explain why Moshe’s name is not mentioned in last week’s sedrah and why this week ends with the account of him having to wear a veil מסוה.

Moshe is the epitome of the soul, the inner G-dliness. Last week’s sedrah spoke, in the main, about the priestly garments. When Moshe officiated in the Mishkon, he did not wear these garments, because he was them; he had no need to wear them to represent the higher lights because he was entirely bound up with those higher lights. Thus his name is not mentioned. A name is also a sort of clothing. Moshe’s essence was such that he was entirely bound up with G-d, to such an extent that the Kedushas Levi comments in last week’s sedrah that Aharon, as it were, enclothed Moshe, as Moshe was the inner holiness. Moshe is the inner essence. The inner essence has no name.

This week we read about the sin of the golden calf. The word עגל also means a circle. The Jews, though they sinned, only sinned in the outer aspect, their לבוש. G-d now had to relate to them similarly, through a לבוש – the 13 Attributes of Mercy [as it says, He wrapped Himself like a Shliach Tsibbur etc]. Beforehand, they were able to have a personal revelation of G-d. They now needed the Mishkon. And Moshe Rabbeinu too could only relate to them through the מסוה.

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