mask, clown, purim

Tetzaveh & Purim Unmasked

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This week’s Divrei Torah is a double-hitter, both on Parshas Titzaveh and Purim. Enjoy!

Tied Together

Rabbi Akiva Bruck brings that this parsha is read just before Purim on purpose. There is a very clear connection. The Megillah shows us everything has a reason. The Arizal teaches on Purim, a four-stage spiritual process of B’nei Yisroel, one that we experience as well on a personal level. 

  1. Achor b’Achor – back to back.
    • Seudas achashveirosh separated us from HaShem. We grew distant and gave into base desires.
  2. Tardeimah – darkness.
    • Haman’s rise to power and decree against klal yisroel. 
  3. Nesirah – separation.
    • Fasting and teshuvah, awaiting execution, bleak despair.
  4. Apin b’apin – face to face.
    • Haman killed, klal yisroel redeemed, teshuvah m’ahava. 

Rabbi Bruck comments that the most difficult step is nesirah, the separation. That’s when we feel distant from HaShem, the oppression and extreme darkness. It’s the night before the sunrise, the moment before redemption.

Purim gives us this very message. Klal yisroel felt no hope, the pain at its highest, and redemption came speedily in the right time.

With Dawn Night Fades

Bilvavi brings that Purim is very different from the other Yomim Tovim in a remarkable way. Like the Yomim Tovim, we wear our Bigdei Shabbos. However, all the other Yomim Tovim are a safek d’yoma, a doubt of days, which results in them being two days long. 

Purim has no such doubt to it. Purim is the opposite of doubt.

Purim is the yontif of the defeat of Amalek, but then, in our times, and in the days to come. The Gematria of Amalek, 240, is also the Gematria of Purim. 

Just as Purim is symbolic of the defeat of Amalek, Purim is symbolic of defeating doubt. 

Purim occurs during Adar, “Aleph Dar,” “the Aleph will dwell.” HaKadosh Baruch Hu fights the war for us; the battle is won with Emunah. 

Every time we doubt HaShem, we lack Emunah, and that is when Amalek wins. 

Amalek’s Attack

Amalek attacks on 2 fronts:

  1. Emunah
    • Amalek is the shoresh of doubt. 
    • Doubt is lacking Emunah.
  1. Kedusha
    • Amalek seeks to destroy us by lowering our Kedusha. The lower our Kedusha, the more vulnerable and weak we are.
    • We are Am Kadosh – a Holy Nation. Our strength is Kedusha. 

Shabbos Zachor

Our pledge to remember to hate Amalek in every generation is subsequently a pledge to hate doubt and commit to Emunah, as well as to hate aveiros and commit to Kedusha.

The only way to beat doubt completely is to be so steeped in Kedusha that we are davuk to HaShem. That is our key to victory.

Yom Kippur

There is only one other day that has no safek – Yom Kippur. 

  • On this day we are like angels
  • It is a day unto HaShem 
  • It is between these two days, Purim and Yom Kippur, that we can overcome doubt

In the future all doubt will be erased. Then HaShem’s name will be one. Right now it is divided. We pronounce the Shem Havaya (the name of His essence) with the Shem Adnus (the name of the Master). 

The heart cannot be revealed by the mouth.

Zohar Bereishis 11a

That we use Adnus to call on Havaya is proof that we have unity in our hearts but not our mouths. 

Choice & Doubt are the hallmarks of Galus.


When we are davuk to HaShem, there is no doubt. There is also no choice, because we see past the mirage we call free will. It is our “free will” that is a cause of doubt for us. 

In a world of safek/doubt, there is no simcha.

In a world of simcha, doubt is erased.

Why drink to forget? 

By nullifying our daas, it is a tikkun for Eitz HaDaas. When our daas is drowned out on this day, guf and neshama can harmonize and leave behind doubt. By engaging in the simcha on such a deep level, we erase doubt on the deepest level. 

Celebrating Purim properly means expressing a day of no doubt. Then take it forward. 

So how do we take it forward? 

With our middos, our actions.

A person whose wisdom is greater than his actions will be physically weak, sick, and poisoned. It will corrupt the entire human being.

Divrei Chaim, Ki Sisa

Always increase middos in equal pace with one’s wisdom. 

Don’t start with chochma. Start with actions. Knowledge first will not work. 

The Pri Haaretz records an exchange between Reb Mendel of Vitebsk and the Baal HaTanya. They argue about Torah study and actions with building proper middos. The end result? Having more wisdom than action corrupts. If it’s something you’ve only heard but haven’t integrated, don’t go any further. It’s essential that we build our middos and our actions in order to grow our wisdom. We cannot ascend higher in our mind than we are in our action.

In accordance with the level of passion, so is the level of “asher kideshanu b’mitzvosov,” the level of separation from impurity we sense taking place in our heart and soul. However, if mitzvos are performed not out of passion and fiery emotion but by rote, because this is what society expects or because this is what we were brought up to do, it is like the poor servant who forgot to put gunpowder in the gun.

Kedushas HaLevi, Tetzaveh

Rachmana liba ba’i.
HaShem desires the heart.

Sanhedrin 106b

Davening must be an outpouring of the soul.

Tzidkas HaTzaddik (42)

Otherwise, it’s trying to shoot bullets without gunpowder. 

We need to “fake it until we make it” to inspire our passion for tefillah. It’s like working oneself into a temper tantrum, but to grow in ruchniyus instead of gashmius. 

Physical mitzvos always take priority over Torah study

We’ve discussed this before and the posuk is clear that we are to do and then listen. The Gemara in Berachos says that Torah study is the greatest mitzvah because it leads to action, so therefore it is really action that is the greatest, and Torah study serves only to enable greater action. It has no other purpose.

Another proof in the Gemara, according to Rabbi Daniel Glatstein, says that one must stop their learning to hear Megillah. In fact, the Megillah has a unique role in Jewish life in that even the Avodah in the Beis HaMikdash is paused for hearing Megillah.

For Purim, we have five (that’s right, five!) physical mitzvos that connect us with the essence of the day:

  1. Mishloach Manos
  2. Matanos L’Evyonim
  3. Hearing Megillah 
  4. Seudah
  5. Inebriation from wine (if this is an issue for you talk to your LOR)

From this we can take to heart the importance of finding a physical connection with our learning in order to grow our middos via action, so that our Chochmah can subsequently increase.

This is how we become davuk to HaShem and enact Emunah in our lives: by action with complete faith, then learning to enhance the relationship.

This is the lesson that we find in our parsha

The Alshich HaKadosh says, in our parsha, where it discusses crushing of the pure olive oil for lighting, that is what the yid must do to themselves.

We must crush ourselves and experience darkness and hardship to properly receive the light.

This crushing, the nesirah, is the time we feel bitter darkness and a lack of hope.

This is when we must have the most Emunah, and hold on, as Geulah is around the corner with the coming dawn.