Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Bein Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman -- What Was the Question?

When I was young and stupid (as opposed to now, when I am no longer so young), I made some remark to one of my "older" co-workers about his elevated age (he was probably in his 40s).  He asked me if ever longed to be a teenager again.  "Argh! No way!"  "Right," he replied, "and I also don't want to be in my 20s again."  Getting older isn't just better than the alternative, it's really just plain good.  Besides the goodness of personal growth and deepened understanding of why we are here in this world and how to achieve our purpose, there is also the pleasure of the shared knowledge and world outlook with one's peer group.  That what the heightened pleasure of learning a R' Dessler on Purim; when my chavrusa said, "Ah!  To do that voodoo that you do so well!"  I knew exactly what he meant and we both knew we were getting the R' Dessler.

That last R' Dessler in the third volume of "Strive for Truth" (first section of second volume of Michtav Me'Eliyahu) addresses what was achieved at Purim with: la'y'hudim orah, simcha, sasson, va'y'kar/The Jews had light, rejoicing, joy, and glory.  Chazal explain that light means Torah, rejoicing means Sukkos, joy means bris mila, and glory means t'fillin.  The Maharal (Ohr Chadash) explains that Chazal mean: ohr/Torah refers to intellectual d'veikus, simcha/sukkos refers to spiritual d'veikus, sasson/bris mila refers to physical d'veikus, y'kar/t'fillin refers to the total d'veikus that is achieved when all of those are experienced together. R ' Dessler explains the Maharal's explanation (always appreciated).

The word "devek" in modern Hebrew means "glue", but d'veikus means to cleave, to adhere.  In order for d'veikus between any two entities, all foreign matter must be removed from between them and they must be aligned.  With limud ha'Torah we align our thought processes with HaKadosh Hu and remove the foreign ideas and thoughts that take us away.  We achieve the same thing spiritually by performing mitzvos, exemplified by Sukkos into which we throw are whole body.  We even change our bodies with bris mila.

Then there is t'fillin, binding together the intellectual, spiritual, and physical to achieve... Right, to achieve what, precisely?  Says R' Dessler, we are seeking to find our "I", our unique and critical contribution to the world.  We are each here because we have something to contribute to the beautiful reality that HaShem created.  Without each of our individual and absolutely unique contributions, the world will never be complete.

To achieve any stretch goal -- and perfection is certainly a stretch goal -- requires two things: dedication to the achievement itself and actively pushing away anything that interferes with that goal.  "Baruch Mordechai" is the positive; working toward the goal itself.  "Arur Haman" is the negative; pushing away interferences.  However, notes R' Dessler, the only reason I have distractions from any goal is because I have my own agenda.  When the agenda is to express myself the positive and negative become all one thing!  When I realign all of my efforts to expressing my unique contribution to reality -- which is really what drives everything I do -- then my agenda to become and eved HaShem and my agenda to achieve my own goals for satisfaction become one and the same.  Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman become two sides of the same coin.  Purim is the celebration of that achievement; acceptance of the Torah with love.

There is a Russian expression: Once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts; you're dead.  Every one of those aches and sores is growing pains.  I earned them, and I enjoy them the way I enjoy the muscle ache after a good workout.  The more one realizes that his job really is to do that voodoo that you do so well, the more those delicious aches and those well earned achievements become one and the same thing.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…