By Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
There is a very strong connection between the Megilla and our Torah reading, Tetzave.
Both of them are missing names: Tetzava is missing “Moshe”. It is the only chapter of the Bible, after his birth, that doesn’t mention his name And the Megilla is missing ‘G-d’! It’s the only book of the Torah missing any holy names.
Secondly, both are eternal: Tetzave deals with the Beis Hamikdash and opens with lighting the Menorah … forever (27:20). And the Megilla and Purim are eternal (See Rambam, hil. Magila 2:18).
But at first glance it’s not so clear what is it about the Temple, the Megilla and Purim that makes them eternal and why aren’t G-d and Moshe mentioned?
To understand this here are two stories.
The first one I heard from Rabbi Meir Abesara ob’m.
Some three hundred years ago a G-d fearing Jewish couple came before the Baal Shem Tov with a tragic story. Their son had changed his religion. He always was a difficult child that couldn’t get enough attention and therefore was always miserable. His parents and teachers tried their best to make him happy but to no avail, and when anyone else ‘stole the show’ he was enraged.
So when the missionaries came around he was easy prey. They gave him unlimited attention and did everything possible to ensnare his Jewish soul. His parents saw what was happening but were helpless and then one day he was gone – no one even knew where. Now they were standing before the Baal Shem Tov and asking for his help.
“But it’s not easy for us to cry.” The father said. “To tell you the truth we are really angry. How could he do such a terrible thing? Such a sin? And after all we’ve done for him” His mother chimed in.
“To tell you the truth he gave us so much aggravation that we have stopped mentioning his name in the house and we almost hope he won’t return.” The father continued. “But we haven’t completely given up. And that’s why we’re here. Maybe you can take this insanity from his mind.”
The Baal Shem Tov waited a few seconds and answered: “If you want him to return you have to love him even more than before. Only your love will bring him back.”
The parents left the room in a daze. How would it be possible to love someone who had disappointed them so deeply and had become an enemy!!?”
But they decided to give it a try.
Every morning they woke early and said the entire book of Psalms for him and the rest of the day mentioned his name with love and admiration in the home. This went on for a few weeks. But with no results.
Indeed, the situation seems so hopeless they were about to just give up. That night it seemed even the weather agreed; the freezing wind was howling and screaming outside with such fierceness that they couldn’t sleep. It sounded as though the world was falling apart and that at any moment their old wood hut would crumble. Suddenly there was a loud thud at the door… as though a large animal was trying to enter.
But then they heard a faint knocking sound. It was hard to make it out over the screaming wind but… there it was again… unmistakable knocking, someone was out there. Someone wanted to come in.
The man went to the door, lifted the bolt, braced himself and as soon as he turned the key clouds of snow and ice thundered in like a hurricane and with them a person!!!
But then, unexplainably, the storm suddenly seemed to die down and it was no problem to close and bolt the door shut again.
The person was shivering like a leaf and crying like a baby. They lifted his hood and revealed… their son!
It took a while before he thawed out and calmed down enough to explain what had happened. The last few weeks he had become disgusted with the Church and decided to leave. But the priests wouldn’t let him go. And when he insisted they locked him in a room high in some tower and said they would not release him till they were sure he ‘repented’.
That was over a week ago. Then, tonight, just as he thought that all was lost suddenly a powerful wind began to blow through the high window of his cell so powerfully that it burst the door open, swept him through it and carried him for miles till it slammed him against the front door of ….. home!
As the Baal Sehm Tov advised; their love brought him back!
The second story is about the successor of the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe Dov Ber ‘the Maggid’ of Mezeritz.
The Maggid an intensely holy person was constantly involved in Torah, Prayer or deep contemplation. He had some sixty, genius, holy pupils each with divine intuition and versed in all the books of Judaism. Their custom was that every day lots would be drawn to see who would be the Maggid’s assistant.
Once, when it was Rabbi Elimelech of Lezinsk’s turn, the Maggid, who had been immersed in deep contemplation and detached from the world for perhaps an hour, suddenly opened his eyes, turned to him and said.
“Elimelech, do you hear what they are saying in the heavenly court? They are saying that the commandment of ‘Loving another Jew’ (Lev. 19:18) means we must love an intentional sinner who opposes G-d and the Torah, as we love a pure Tzadik.”
When Reb Elimelech told the other Chassidim what the Maggid said they immediately decided to change their priorities and devote more time, love and energy to others.
This answers our questions about the eternity of the Temple, the Menora, and the lack of G-d’s and Moshe’s names.
Both of the above stories are about self-sacrifice to reveal good where there apparently is none. The Torah was given to reveal the Creator in His creation and show it is all One amazing meaningful miracle.
But it depends on our learning Torah with self-sacrifice,
This is the essence of Judaism; higher than the Torah or even any ‘name’ of G-d.
Only by rising above even our spiritual ‘religious’ egos (as in the second story) can we really reveal the Torah as it really is… the will of the Creator. Then it transcends all divisions and unites.…. as the Baal Shem tov and the Maggid instructed in the above stories.
That what was revealed on that first Purim some 900 years after the giving of the Torah
Until then the Torah was abandoned when it was too difficult.
But on that first Purim the Jews rose above this. Suddenly the entire Jewish nation, even those that sinned at the King’s feast, were willing to suffer Haman’s decree to “Exterminate all the Jews” (Esther 3:13) rather then to simply say they weren’t Jewish.
So for the first time in history the Jews got the essence of the Torah: Namely that G-d, the Torah and the Jewish people are ‘above’ the creation and exist only to bring blessing, unity and joy into the creation.
This is the point of the Torah that unifies and enlivens all Jews and it is above any ‘names’ or aspects of G-d. Rather it touches at the very essence of G-d. Therefore, there are no names of G-d found in the Magilla.
And similarly, Tetzava lacks the name of Moshe. It begins with G-d calling Moshe ‘You’; implying his very essence, above any names.
And therefore, Moshe was the one who got the eternal commandments of lighting the Menora and building the Temple to illuminate and unify the entire world with G-dliness … permanently,
Incidentally, this is why one must get drunk on Purim until there is no difference between Haman and Mordechi. (Aruch Chiam 695:2). Because we must learn to serve G-d above and beyond any logical reason; neither for fear of punishment nor desire for reward… only because it is true.
And this will be the accomplishment of Moshiach; to lead, unify, and educate all mankind; Jew and gentile (seven Noahide commandments) in the light of the Torah and the Creator with JOY above all limits. Just as the Lubavitcher Rebbe taught, and is still teaching.
It all depends on us. And it could be that just one more good deed, word or even thought can tilt the scales and bring us all a Happy, Holy, Purim with Moshiach ….. NOW!!!
Rabbi Tuvia Bolton
Yeshiva Ohr Tmimim
Kfar Chabad, Israel