Rabbi Yaacov Haber – Purim

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08 Mar 2009

VisionAt some point in every person’s life, G-d grants them a prophecy: a vision of himself or herself as the greatest individual they can become. In Kabbalistic language this is referred to as isarusa dleyla or an awakening from above. This prophecy is not a result of the toil of man but rather a gift from the heavens, a job description, a wake-up call from headquarters.

After having this dream, most people push themselves back into a state of reality and forget what they have seen. They have thrown away a gift from G-d. G-d has just shown you what you could become in life, what you must strive for, what is your raison d’etre in this lifetime.

The Talmud states that when the people of Israel stood before the split sea each and every Jew received a prophecy. “A simple handmaiden saw what one of the greatest prophets, Yechezkel, didn’t see”. Imagine the day, a million Yechezkel’s and even more. What did they see? What did G-d tell all of these people? Where are their books of prophecy? What became of all the handmaidens?

The answer is, their prophecies were not about the future and not about Messianic times. Their vision was about themselves. When the people of Israel crossed the sea it wasn’t to get to the other side, it was to become “a holy people and a nation of priests”. Every Jew was shown an image of what he or she can become, why they were created, and what their unique contribution to the world could be. It now became their charge, as it is ours, to work tirelessly to meet that goal, to come into our own. (Based on Rav Tzadok HaCohen; Tzidkas Hatzadik)

Investigating our tachlis in life is no easy task. I would say that if by 40 years of age one has uncovered his individual purpose for existence, he is well ahead of the game. The Mesilas Yesharim begins his book with the charge “it is the basic obligation of every Jew to clarify and internalize the reality of his purpose in this world.” The story is told of one of the great masters of mussar who decided to study the Mesilas Yesharim, but every time he picked up the book he couldn’t get past the first sentence.

One of the most moving events in the Torah occurred immediately before the death of Jacob. It was at the time that Jacob gathered all his children into one place, told them to listen while he blessed them, and told them what would happen to them at the end of days. The Hebrew word in the Torah that is usually translated as “happen” is peculiarly spelled with an aleph at the end. The word “yekara” spelled with an aleph actually translates as “will call”. To translate correctly, Jacob called his children and said to them “Gather as one, and I will tell you what will be calling to you at the end of days.”

Jacob was teaching his sons and all of Israel a fundamental principle. There will come a time in your life when you will hear a calling. When you hear it, it may seem unrealistic or naive. But when you hear it don’t turn away. Grab it and strive for it. It is yours to attain. If you turn around and go back to sleep it will slip through your fingers. A life is a terrible thing to waste.

The Purim miracle. The Jews in Persia are in serious trouble. A Hitler named Haman is on the loose. The King Achashverosh is inaccessible. Miracle of miracles, our very own Queen Esther is perfectly positioned in the royal court. Mordechai approaches Esther and charges her with the responsibility of saving her brethren. Esther hesitates and Mordechai says, “Who knows? Maybe it is for this very reason that you have become the queen.” Who knows! Who doesn’t know? It’s obvious to all who read the book why Esther was so positioned. When G-d split the sea for the Jewish people, did any Jew say “Maybe it’s for me to walk through? Who knows?!”

But Esther didn’t know and neither was the great Mordechai so sure. What is more frightening, however, is the rest of Mordechai’s statement. “And if you don’t seize the opportunity at this time, the Jews will be saved by some other means, but you and your family will be lost”. This was it. Esther had a chance to stand up and be counted. She heard and now she must do. She did and she saved the people of Israel.

May we all be privileged to be awake for the call, to fulfill our task in this world, and to drink from the waters of Eden in this world and the next.

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Based on a lecture given by Rabbi Haber to the Women’s group of Kollel Beth HaTalmud Yehuda Fishman Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

Rabbi Yaacov Haber is Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Orchos Chaim in Jerusalem http://www.orchos.org.il and President of TorahLab http://www.torahlab.org Comments and questions are very welcome: email yhaber@torahlab.org