Purim: Purim According to Kabbalah

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How did Haman persuade King Achashverosh to annihilate the Jews? Why did G-d agree? And what was the turning point that changed the course of the story? The Kabbalistic underpinnings of the Purim Story.

Lesson Contents:

A. The Purim Story in Short

A short overview of the Purim story

B. The Pivotal Miracle

Part of the Purim story is that the king couldn’t sleep one night, setting into motion a series of events which ultimately ended in the salvation of the Jewish people (Source 1). The Talmud says that this is a pivotal point in the miracle (Source 2).

The Rebbe cites this teaching and asks: is this really the pivotal moment? A Midrashic Teaching says that it was G-d who couldn’t sleep — but that raises more questions: how can G-d be asleep? 

The normal state of affairs, the Rebbe explains in Purim 1972, is that G-d is awake and attentive to the needs of the Jewish people. Why is it a miracle that He woke up?

The answer lies in the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that how our behavior below is reflected in G-d’s behavior towards us (Source 4-5-6). In the Purim story, the Jewish people were asleep…

C. The Deeper Meaning of Sleep

In what sense were the Jews asleep? A state of sleep is when a person’s faculties do not function; he doesn’t see or hear properly, despite the fact that he still retains those faculties. When the Jewish people are in exile, they might fail to see or hear, i.e., perceive, G-d’s presence, leading them found a path of spiritual degeneration. When that occurs, it is reflected from above — and G-d appears to be asleep as well.

We find this hidden in the words of Haman’s accusation, the Rebbe explains in Purim 1972: The word #Yeshno# can also be read #Yashnu# — the people were asleep.

D. The Alarm Clock

How do we wake up? With the power of self-sacrifice. When our normal faculties are asleep, the only way to “shake the system” is by drawing on our deepest essence which never sleeps. 

As the Rebbe explains in Purim 1972, the Jews of the time showed supreme self-sacrifice by gathering all the children to study Torah. 

That is what causes G-d to wake up as well, so to speak. Thus, when the Megillah says that Achashverosh couldn’t sleep, it really means that G-d woke up — and that is the apex of the miracle.

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