Home Torah Lessons Rav Berland on the Chagim The correct mindset going into Purim by Rabbi Eliezer Berland
Tzama Nafshi in English – Purim 5775 פורים תשע”ה
Transcribed and translated from previous recordings of
HaRav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
Preparation for Purim
On Purim we must make a great effort to ‘keep our wits together’ more than on Yom HaKippurim, because on Yom HaKippurim we sit in shul 24 hours, glued to our chairs but on Purim we have to drink wine, be happy, sing and dance while maintaining Yishuv hadaas (peace of mind) and clinging to Hashem.
Everyone knows that we must strike Amalek, annihilate them, kill them, etc. Yet, who is Amalek? Amalek is us! Each and every person has Amalek in their hearts. So long as Amalek is inside of us, nothing will help. Even if we physically kill Haman, Sisra will come in his stead, or Titus, Asfinus, Hitler and so on. As long as the person is flawed with “p’gam Habris” (not guarding the covenant), and with arrogance, then Haman is still alive. That Satan will simply reincarnate into another person. When Haman was killed, that specific generation was saved, but with every generation that follows, a new “Haman” is born.
Haman is created out of sins! From every sin “Haman” is created, a terrorist is born, a Nazi is born with every sin we commit. When a Nazi comes to kill a Jew – I created that Nazi! I’m the one who created that terrorist! However, if I repent, that terrorist will burn. He’ll be wiped out. So, who is Haman? Who is Amalek? Amalek is me. As long as I am in the world, as long as I am living, the Redemption will never come – until I reverse my deeds, until I change myself for the better. Nothing else will help. That is Purim – “venahafoch hu” [“and the situation was reversed” (Esther 9)], that every person must reverse and change his ways completely.
On Purim, the sweetness of the river of Eden is revealed. Everyone goes up to Gan Eden on Purim. Everything you eat and drink on Purim is the “preserved wine, the wild ox and the whale”; it is the poultry of Gan Eden, the whale of Gan Eden, the wild ox from Gan Eden, etc. The “Kedushas Yom Tov” says that the light of Purim reveals the ‘real me’. This is revealed specifically on Purim, since that is the time that the person is able to see his life with clarity. He merits finding all of his flaws, all of his sins; he discovers that he himself is Haman.
The “Kedushas Levi” says that as soon as a person realizes his lowliness, he can fall to such despair. On Purim more than any other time, he is in danger because everything becomes revealed to him! He sees his flaws, the flaw of not guarding his eyes properly, of not having enough emunah, etc., and this realization can cause him great despair. That is why we are told to drink wine on Purim, as it says, “give ale to the worker and wine to the embittered”, in order to elevate the person’s spirit and cause him to sing and dance. Once a person discovers that “I myself am Haman”, I am the biggest criminal – he can fall into such a terrible depression. That is the reason that Chazal declared that “the men must become ‘merry’ (intoxicated) on Purim…”, since by “becoming merry” the person will come to “venahafoch hu” – “and the situation was reversed.” The person will discover that, on the contrary, even a wicked Haman such as myself is doing good things; I’m praying, I heard the Megilla reading on Purim, I even went to the mikveh, I donned Tefillin… I merited doing such wonderful mitzvos! There is no greater Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of Hashem’s name) than that, because the farther the person is (from serving Hashem) the greater the Kiddush Hashem, the greater will be his joy. “Arur Haman” (Cursed is Haman) turns into “Baruch Mordechai” (blessed is Mordechai). Specifically one who knows he is “Haman” has a chance to merit becoming “Baruch Mordechai” [meaning, he can turn from a sinner such as Haman into a righteous man such as Mordechai].
The saintly Arizal said that the light of “Yesod Abba” enlightens us every Purim, it does not shed its light at any other time. This enlightenment called “Yesod Abba” is always covered up, it is always hidden. Then, when we read the Megilla, the enlightenment of “Yesod Abba” becomes revealed. Such a luminous light comes down upon us that every person can come to complete teshuva. Mordechai, who is “Yesod Abba” is revealed in all his glory on Purim, since the enlightenment of Mordechai – the enlightenment of “Yesod Abba” draws upon us wonders and miracles. This enlightenment is the emunah (faith) that “there is none other than Him”, that there is nothing besides Hashem. There can be an Achashverosh, there can be a Haman and they can make all the decrees they want. However, they do not really exist, they are just fog, and the purpose of everything they say and do is in order to arouse us to repent. Purim is all about repentance. It is not about going wild or popping loud explosives and breaking things or throwing up or hurting others. Purim is all about doing real and complete teshuva, just as the Breslovers did throughout the years. Rivers upon rivers of tears they shed, while reading the Megilla and in the midst of dancing. That is the aspect of “chayav inish levesumei” – “the men must become intoxicated (merry) on Purim.” The (Aramaic) word “Livesumei” does not refer to total drunkenness but rather like “tipsy”; it means having a red face full of hislahavus (enthusiasm) which comes from [the fire of] d’veikus (completely clinging to Hashem).
Reb Nosson said that on Purim we must make a great effort to ‘keep our wits together’ more than on Yom HaKippurim because on Yom HaKippurim we sit in shul 24 hours, glued to our chairs, but on Purim we have to drink wine, be happy, sing and dance while maintaining Yishuv hadaas (peace of mind) and dveikus – clinging to Hashem. The essential purpose of drinking wine (on Purim) is to come to dveikus, to see Hashem face to face. It says in Shulchan Aruch that, chas veshalom, that a man should think that just because he drank he does not need to bentch, or daven Maariv, or that he doesn’t need to daven with kavanah (intention). “Livesumei” does not mean to become light headed. It means you should drink on condition that you do not make light of any bracha or any minhag (custom). The essence of this mitzvah is that the person must be happy, as it says, “wine makes the heart merry”. Wine makes the blood rush and when a person’s blood rushes, it’s easier for him to dance and be happy and it’s easier for the person to sing. It helps the person to truly feel happy and elevates his level of happiness.
The day of Purim is a day of thanksgiving for the whole year because a person must be happy all year round. Yet, throughout the rest of the year, the person cannot become unusually happy; he must remain sane and keep his wits together. He must pay attention to the barriers of his sechel (mind) because the sechel limits and protects the person, whereas the wine numbs the wisdom and barriers of the sechel, rachmana litzlan. That’s why Rabbenu warned us not to drink wine or alcoholic beverages throughout the year. On Purim, however, we want the opposite. We want to burn all the barriers of the sechel through the wine we drink. Purim has a special power that even though we drink and become intoxicated, the wine we drink does us no harm, so long as the person drinks properly. It is said about Purim that “wine goes in and secrets came out”, which means that the person discovers the love he has for Hashem and the Yiras Shamayim (Fear of Heaven), because if throughout the year the person fills himself up with love for Hashem and dveikus to Hashem, then, when Purim comes, all of those feelings explode! The person then merits dancing out of his tremendous love for Hashem and dveikus. Contrarily, if a person is far from dveikus and instead he ‘clings’ to bad middos such as mocking others, speaking lashon hara, etc., then on Purim his bad middos explode outwardly and he becomes lightheaded and foolish and mocks others [mercilessly], because on Purim, the barriers of our sechel wear away and burn down by the wine. On Purim, we want to bring down the barriers of the sechel through drinking wine so that our love for Hashem will surface, and nothing else. A person, in whom the love for Hashem burns all year round, but he has no chance to express his love, when Purim comes around he can spend 24 hours straight expressing that love of Hashem.
Good Shabbos and happy Purim! J
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