Our Rabbi’s Torah - Boulder, Colorado
The amazing salvation of the Purim story is experienced every year, just as the freedom of Passover is given to us every year. But the dark time that preceded the salvation brought about by Mordecai and Esther is also experienced every year. In this time before Purim comes, be warned! The same dangers that threatened the Jewish people in Shushan face us here and now.
The external problem is, of course, only a reflection of the internal one. As we have explained many times, Haman/Amalek only comes as an external force when the internal Haman/Amalek shows up.
Haman’s complaint about the Jewish people to Achashveirosh – which was a true complaint, mind, on many levels – was that the Jewish people were ‘scattered and disconnected’. This was true geographically and in terms of our national unity. Everyone was in a different camp, and each camp rejected every other camp.
This is the challenge that faces us every year before Purim – disconnection from other Jews. Hatred, even. Right before Purim, it is perfectly natural to feel about another Jew, ‘I cannot stand him. I cannot even be in the room with him.’ This is our test. If you are feeling these feelings toward any Jew, know that Haman/Amalek has you by the throat.
In order to merit to the salvation of Purim, we must fulfill the verse, ‘and Mordecai gathered all of the Jews.’ We must gather together – or else there is nothing to save.
In this week’s Parsha, we read, ‘and they shall make for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.’ This is usually interpreted by the groovy Jews as meaning, ‘each one of us makes a Temple for Hashem in our own hearts.’ And that may be so. But it is not what the verse says. The verse says, ‘and they shall make for me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.’ The Presence of G-d dwells amidst the totality of the people, together.
Every Jew must contribute to the traveling Sanctuary. Even if one person would want to finance the whole thing, it is not possible. Everyone must contribute. This is similar to what Rebbe Nachman says: ‘Every Jew has a particular point in him or her that can be found nowhere else.’ If you want that point, you must get it from that person.’ Or, in another place: ‘each person is a letter in the Torah. If you reject that person, then your Torah is pasul – invalid; it is not a kosher Torah.’
This is the time – before Purim – to work toward forgiving and asking forgiveness. As we know, Yom Kippur – the day we all fear, and we all scramble to forgive and gain forgiveness – is merely a reflection of Purim. If we ask forgiveness around Yom Kippur, all the more so we should ask around Purim.
This year, let us enter into Purim as one nation with one heart, committed to patience with each other, seeking good points, in humility. Amen.