Purim 5781: Achashveirosh’s “Sleep was Disturbed”

Shalom Friends;

This year’s Purim vort is being sponsored by Aryeh and Lisa Koenigsberg and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Aryeh’s grandparents: Chaya Perel bas Arieh and Yissachar Dov ben Yisrael. To the Koenigsberg family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Purim 5781: Achashveirosh’s “Sleep was Disturbed”

By Moshe Burt

A few years ago, this author acquired a small publication entitled, “BaLayla HaHu.” This is a Ma’amar by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, z”l from Purim 5744 (1984) where he cited his predecessor and father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson, z”l, also known as the Frierdicker Rebbe.

The Rebbe’s Ma’amar is based on a posuk from Megillat Esther:

“On that night, the king’s [Achashveirosh’s] sleep was disturbed, and he ordered to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.” (Megillat Esther, Perek 6, posuk 1 as rendered to English in “BaLayla HaHu” by Simon Kanter of Chicago under the direction of Rabbi Boruch Hertz)

We all know the plot — the horrendous decree of Haman, with the approval of king Achashveirosh, which called for the killing “of every Jewish man, woman and child on a single day” (Chas V’Chalila)

Last year’s Purim vort spoke of the exchange between Esther and Mordechai which resulted in Esther appearing before king Achashveirosh to invite both he and Haman to the first of what would be two banquets.

“BaLayla HaHu” notes that the Frierdiker Rebbe discussed a custom of readers of Megillat Esther for a kehillot, when they reach the abovementioned posuk (Perek 5, posuk 1):

“…The reader must raise his voice when reading this posuk because it represents the Main miracle [of Purim].”

“BaLayla HaHu” notes in brackets (ibid, pages 3-4):

“[The basis for this custom can be found in a Gemara in Mesechta Megillah which mentions four different opinions regarding which portion of the Megillah must be read to fulfill the Mitzvah. According to one opinion, the reader must start from this posuk, because it represents the “beginning of the power of the Purim miracle.”]

The Rebbe of Chabad continues (ibid, pages 4-5):

Seemingly, says the Frierdiker Rebbe, the [beginning of the] main miracle of Purim is that Esther’s plea to the king that “I and my people have been sold [to be destroyed and to be killed]” was favorably received, which resulted in the downfall of Haman and the salvation of the Jews. [Alternatively, adds the Rebbe, we could say that the main miracle started when Esther asked Mordechai to gather the Jews and have them fast on her behalf which ultimately caused Esther’s plans to be successful.]

If so, why do the Maharil (and the Gemara) say that (the beginning of the) main (power of the) miracle is represented by the posuk “on that night [the king’s sleep was disturbed]”?

The Frierdiker Rebbe answers this question … [with a Midrashic explanation by] the Yalkut Shimoni:

“On that night, the sleep of the king was disturbed.” Here, the “king” refers to [Hashem], the King of the World. One may ask: Surely, Hashem doesn’t sleep! How can this refer to Hashem? Rather, the explanation is as follows: When the Jews sin, Hashem conducts himself [as it were] like someone who is sleeping, and when they do His Will, then “[Guardian of Israel] neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

Applying this explanation of the Midrash to the statement of the Maharil, we now see that the main miracle of Purim was that Hashem’s “sleep” was disturbed,

Additionally, we see from the Midrash that Hashem’s “sleep” is a reaction to the conduct of the Jews: If the Jews sin, then He conducts Himself like someone who is sleeping.

We more often refer to Hashem’s seeming obliviousness as Concealing His Countenance — the Hebrew term being “Hester Panim.”

The Rebbe of Chabad notes (ibid, page 5):

….Chassidus explains that the expression of G-dliness above is mirrored within the Jews’ soul below, so a Jew truly can be compared to G-dliness. This is reflected in the statement of the Zohar, “the world above is similar to (a reflection of) the world below,” …(which can also refer to the “supernal image of man” within G-dliness).

The small sefer “BaLayla HaHu” indicates (ibid, pages 5-6, 10):

Th[is] statement stresse[s] the “reactionary” relationship… between the Jews (below) and Hashem (above). Based on this, The Rebbe explains the statement of the Midrash that “If the Jews sin, He conducts Himself like someone who is sleeping.”

The Jews are called “sleeping” when their service of Hashem through Torah and Mitzvot… is “asleep” (not active at all, or don’t have the energy they should). This then “causes” the King of the World [Hashem] to “sleep” (so to speak) as well.

Since the time of Purim was a time of galus, the “rules” of creation would dictate that it is a time of “sleep” for Hashem. (The phrase “On that night” also refers to galus — the darkness of night represents the concealment of galus, and the adjective “that [night]” also refers to something which is concealed (as opposed to “this night”).

The fact that Hashem’s “sleep” was disturbed (and He didn’t deal with the Jews as He would during a time of galus) went against this rule of creation — representing the “power of the Purim miracle.”

This also explains why it [Megillat Esther] says that the “king’s sleep was disturbed.”

On a spiritual level, “sleep” means that Hashem conducts the world in such a way that the superiority of G-dly things (Torah, the Jews, the soul, etc.) is not evident within creation.

Based on this, we now have a greater understanding of… the connection between Hashem’s “sleep” and galus.

When the Jews don’t act in a way that reflects their superior abilities, this (so to speak) causes Hashem to “sleep,” conducting the world in a way that conceals the true spiritual superiority of the Jews.

This seems quite a lesson for all of us to latch onto over this Purim and in the time we are currently in.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now free of his parole and restrictions and that he and his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha are finally home in Eretz Yisrael. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Purim Same’ach!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.