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Purim: “Going Deep”

RABBI DONIEL FRANK | Director, M.A.P. Seminars, Inc., Marriage and Family Therapist

Click here to download PDF transcript

When Vashti refused to come to the party, the Megilla says that Achashveirosh “became greatly incensed, and his anger burned within him.” And the Gemara says that it’s because, along with her refusal, she sent the following message to her husband. And I quote:

“You stable boy! My father drank wine the amount that a thousand people drink and didn’t get drunk, whereas that man (referring to Achashveirosh) became foolish from his wine.”

There’s a really important lesson here about the human experience, and we’ll draw it out with a simple question. Why does the Gemara feel compelled to explain why Achashveirosh got angry? Isn’t it enough that she refused him?

According to the Maharsha, the Gemara assumes that it’s not possible that he’d have gotten so angry just because she didn’t show up. The Gemara knew there had to be something else going on. And when the Megillah emphasized that the anger burned “within him,” it was clear that something very personal must have been said.

podcast3The Vilna Gaon says it a little differently. He wonders why Achashveirosh continued to boil even after expressing his rage. His question is based on the idea that when people let out their emotions, they tend to begin to calm down. Therefore, there must have been something else going on that Achashveirosh was not raging openly about, other than the fact that she didn’t show up, and that it must have been a personal insult that he was too embarrassed to scream about, and admit to, publicly. The Gemara says it was the vulnerability and inadequacy he felt relative to Belshatzer. Because he didn’t let that out, it continued to stew inside of him.

There is a concept that says that when people rage, they are really bellowing out in pain. But because people generally aren’t courageous enough to look inside and admit to what’s really hurting them, they send out smokescreens and cover-ups.

And when we don’t deal with the real issue, the pain continues…

This is an important lesson. But why is it taught to us in the Megillah? Is it just a side thought?

I don’t think so. I think it fits perfectly with the entire theme of the day – the theme of going deep. Purim’s message is to live a profound life, where we look to find the root and source for everything.

On the global level, it means looking at world events and realizing that at the core of everything that goes on lies Hashem’s Hashgacha.

On an individual level, it means looking at the true motivations for our behaviors and reactions.

In both cases, when we live on the surface, we experience continuous hurt, fear, and frustration. At the same time, when we go deep, we open ourselves to the potential for joy, satisfaction, and redemption. That’s why, at every opportunity, the Megillah teaches us to look inward, even when it comes to finding the true source for our personal behavior and reactions.

Let’s make that a theme in our personal lives… that we keep our focus on the true essence behind everything in our lives, including being completely aware of our true motivations and intentions and the courage to deal with them. It’s all about living a real and natural life, without smokescreens and cover-ups. And that’s all a part of what Purim is all about.

DEDICATED TO A REFUAH SHELAIMA FOR YITZCHAK ben DEVORAH

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