The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: Adar 8 5767/February 26, 2007

Banish All Doubt

"'The hand upon the throne of HaShem: HaShem will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.'"
(Exodus 17:16)

Our bitter enemy Amalek, we are taught, is synonymous with doubt. So it is little surprise that immediately following the Israelites' question, "'Is HaShem among us, or not?'" (ibid 17:7) that Amalek "happened upon you by the way, and smote the hindmost of you, all that were enfeebled in your rear, when you were faint and weary; and he feared not G-d." (Deuteronomy 25:18) Why should the avowed enemies of G-d be fearful of Him, when we ourselves express doubt in His love and commitment to our well being? It is Amalek himself, the caster of doubt, who seduces us in the first place into imagining a world in which evil can just be "happened upon... by the way." How can we, who profess our love and faith in HaShem, countenance such a world of happenstance?

Like it or not, each and every one of us has his Amalek moments. Each of us has his flashes of doubt, wondering whether G-d is truly paying attention to us, to our needs. Much, much worse, we each experience moments when we question whether our actions, our deeds and our efforts have contained within them the power to effect any change in the world. Then Amalek gnaws at us from within, and "happens upon us" from without. This is Amalek, with whom we are told we are to wage war "from generation to generation" (Exodus 17:16), and this is Amalek, of whom we are commanded to "utterly blot out [his] remembrance... from under heaven." (ibid 17:14)

The obliteration of all doubt begins when we take upon ourselves the very remedy prescribed by G-d: the observation of Purim. We are not castigated by G-d for the existence of our inner doubt, for surely doubt has existed in this world from the moment the first man and the first woman ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Rather than gain for Adam and Eve the G-dly nature promised by the serpent, a rift was created between man and G-d. In that rift, doubt thrives. Remove the rift and doubt is dispelled. This is the prescription of Purim.

On Yom HaKippurim, (the full name of Yom Kippur), we strive for 25 hours to be like angels, suppressing our physical needs, and beseeching and praising G-d as do the angels. But strive as we may, we are not angels, and heaven is not our abode. Yom HaKippurim, in Hebrew means, a day like Purim. For Yom HaKippurim is as close as we can get to Purim itself! On Yom HaKippurim we begin with a festive meal before embarking upon our day long fast. On Purim we begin with the Fast of Esther, (Adar 13th, this year, however on Adar 11th, March 1st), and conclude with a day long celebration in which we hear the Megillat Esther, send charity to the poor, gifts of food to our friends, and enjoy a festive repast - a seudat mitzvah - literally a commanded meal.

So how do we achieve on Purim that which we can't achieve even on Yom HaKippurim, the holiest day of the year? Unlike ourselves, who cannot dwell in heaven with G-d, while we still tread this earth, G-d can and does dwell with us on earth, right here, right now. On Purim, when we are united with the people of Israel and all who cling to the G-d of Israel, and have driven from our own minds the cognitive difference between the expressions "Blessed be Mordechai" and "Cursed be Haman," and have ascended well beyond the knowledge of good and evil - then G-d is sitting with us, and within us: "and I will dwell among them." (ibid 25:8) For when we sit with G-d, and He with us, in this world, in this life, then there is no room for doubt, and both Amalek and his memory have been banished.

Undoubtedly, the words of the scroll of Esther describe it best: "The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor." (Esther 8:16)

Please join Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven this week as they prepare for the upcoming Purim celebration on this week's TEMPLE TALK.

Click to hear:

Part 1
Part 2