Kedusha for Every Nation – Purim

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Our time in Galus has been a lengthy one. While in my current role I can’t tell the tales, my neshama has definitely taken the score. Why are we here? What’s our purpose in this land, in this city, at such a time as this? We have a few lessons we can learn from Purim to enlighten us.

Relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere.

Esther 4:14

The Gemara in Makkos (24a-b) states, regarding the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the joy of the goyim in a nearby city, that Akiva laughed while the other sages cried during their walk to Rome. Rabban Gamliel, R’ Elazar ben Azariah, and R’ Yehoshua asked Rabbi Akiva why he was joyous. He responded in kind, asking why they were crying. 

“Because those idolaters who bow down to images and burn incense to their idols are living in safety and ease, whereas our Beis HaMikdash has been burned. Should we not then weep?” He replied, “that is why I rejoice! If those who rebel against Him live in such ease, how much better will it be for those who obey Him?”

Kedushas Levi Purim, 3, Artscroll Commentary

The Kedushas Levi comments on this passage in Esther, based on this teaching from the Gemara. He writes that relief and rescue will arise for the Jew from elsewhere, being that from another perspective, there is no doubt that there will be a salvation for klal yisroel. 

We are faced with many parallels to the Purim narrative. Wicked leadership (all sides), a self-serving indulgent society with complete lack of all morality, and the Jew trapped within it while trying to maintain their own identity and kedusha. No matter how desperate the time may seem, from another perspective, it is clear that there will be a salvation for us too. 

One thing we need to remember is the purpose of galus.

The Noam Elimelech on Parshas Yisro writes that the exile today is only for the sake of gerim. Thank you. 

For Gerim, there is a holy spark within them that arouses them to become gerim. The spark isn’t powerful enough to drive the person to eretz yisroel, so this potential candidate must first be exposed to the holiness of the Jewish people. By learning Torah, keeping kosher, and performing other mitzvos around the goyim, it creates an atmosphere of kedusha that can strengthen this spark to move forward and complete geirus. This is the entire purpose of being in the middle of nowhere, living an Orthodox life. You never know what action, what bracha, what mitzvah, will inspire those in the vicinity, and until someone steps forward, you never know which non-Jew has this spark. Everyone is a potential candidate. 

With this in mind, we can better understand a component of Megillas Esther.

When Esther approached the king, she was sentencing herself to death. It makes no sense. She abhorred him and never spent any time with him. Halachically speaking, there was nothing to accomplish, derech hateiva, so her actions were a clear sakana and should be assur. However, in the spiritual realm, Mordechai, her only true husband, understood the concept of sparks and tikkunim. 

Mordechai…commanded Esther to approach the king, confident that when Esther would appear before him, the Shechinah would accompany her – has indeed happened. Mordechai hoped that the wicked king would absorb some of the spiritual radiance that would be present, and this would change his outlook so that he would agree to look out for the Jews’ well-being.

Kedushas Levi, Purim

By Esther presenting herself in front of the king, she was able to infuse him with some kedusha to rule favorably for the Jews.

But wait, there’s more!

Esther made a feast for Achashveirosh and Haman. The Kedushas Levi notes that the method by which salvation begins is the method by which it must be completed as well. Esther was aware that since the salvation of the Jews began at a feast, that of Achashveirosh and him killing Vashti, the salvation can only come to completion at a feast. She prepared this feast with absolute holiness, the highest standards of kashrus. 

By feeding Haman a kosher seudah, she was able to block off his access to the sitra achra, the forces of tumah, so that he would be powerless. And because of how steeped he was in evil, he couldn’t attach to the forces of kedusha in the kosher food. That left Esther with the ability to reach the king uninhibited. The king, already nurtured with kedusha from the previous encounter, was lifted higher by the seudah and inspired to save klal yisroel. The rest is history. 

Which brings us to this moment.

We are in Galus for the purpose of redeeming sparks and inspiring Geirim, which is the primary method of redeeming sparks. Our Galus had a salvation clause built into it. The Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, which was the saving act. The Baal Shem Tov states, that by doing so, the nations could no longer bring korbonos on Sukkos to the Temple. These sparks still needed to be collected and brought back. Thus, HaShem empowered klal yisroel to be sent across the world, from country to country, to collect sparks and inspire geirus for the ultimate redemption. It is our actions, our mitzvos, our observance of kashrus and Shabbos, our tefillos, even our levush, that cause this collection and inspiration to happen. 

Working in kashrus, it’s an easy sell. We have an obligation to keep kosher and make kosher widely available, and not just for the Jews. The tumah in nonkosher food can keep that spark trapped and weakened, whereas the kedusha of kosher food can give it the koach to force geirus as well as force the goyim around us to view us favorably and work for our benefit as servants of HaShem.

And it’s not just kosher. It’s everything. Every mitzvah. Every action. We are to be mashpia the entire city by living above derech hateiva and representing HaShem in these darkened lands.