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Study Texts for Purim

Purim and Yom HaKippurim-

The tradition makes much of the similarity in name between Purim and Yom Kippur [Yom Hakippurim]. This might seem like an odd coupling. Here are some of the contrasts highlighted in Hasidic literature:

Yom Kippur

The holiest day of the year
The holiday most focused on God
We fast in order to gain perspective
We distinguish between blessing and curse

Purim

The one holiday that will continue after the messiah comes
The one holiday with no mention of God
We drink until we lose perspective
We drink until we cannot distinguish between blessing and Curse

So the challenge is to find a message or meaning in Purim that is as deep as that of Yom Kippur. This teaching from the Sefat Emet may give us some insight:

The Talmud says we should be so intoxicated on Purim that we cannot distinguish “Blessed be Mordechai” from “Cursed be Haman!” I heard my grandfather and teacher say that one has to rise to a place higher than the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I don't recall it all in its proper order [!] But the point was that the tree Haman prepared for Mordechai's hanging was fifty cubits high, one higher than the forty-nine measures of
defilement and purification. The power of Amalek [evil] is found on all those levels, [where one can be either pure or impure]. But the fiftieth gate is that of holiness; there are no two ways there, but only that of goodness, for that is the root of oneness. That is why it says [in the battle against Amalek]: “When Moses lifted his hand, Israel was victorious” (Ex. 17:11), for he raised it toward the fiftieth gate, the Tree of Life, which is the Torah.

When the power of Moses, the Prince of Torah, is awakened, Amalek is defeated. That is why we are told that on Purim there was another receiving of Torah, the revelation of the Tree of Life. That is a place that does not know about “Blessed be Mordechai” and “Cursed be Haman,” since evil does not reach there at all, to the root of unity.

Arthur Green, scholar of Jewish mysticism, comments further on this teaching: “Purim here becomes a third festival of revelation. On Shavuot, the original written Torah was revealed. Because its light was too great for mortals to bear, the tablets had to be broken. Yom Kippur is the day of the second tablets, the Torah as restored by human participation in the revelatory event; it is thus the source of the oral Torah [the first time God engraves the tablets, the second time they are engraved by Moses’ hand]. Purim hints at a third level, the revelation of a Torah beyond rules and statutes: Torah as the Tree of Life itself. This Torah is purely mystical, it is the name of God, that which was before the beginning and will finally be revealed only at the end. That is why we are taught that Purim, unlike the other holidays, will continue to exist even in messianic times.

 

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