March 5, 2020 / 9 Adar, 5780 • Parshat Tetzaveh/Zachor
Issue 604
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Queen Esther and Mordechai...sent letters to all the Jews to observe these days of the manner that Mordechai the Jew and Queen Esther obligated them.... And the request of Esther confirmed the aspects of these Purim days, and the story was included in Scripture.

Megillat Esther 9:29-32

Mordechai and Esther played different roles in rescinding Haman's decree. Mordechai primarily addressed the spiritual lapses that caused the decree, arranging for public prayer, fasting, and study, while Esther orchestrated the political maneuvers to ensure their survival.

This division of labor reflected their different spiritual strengths: Kabbalah associates Mordechai with the Divine attribute of chochmah, creative insight, and Esther with malchut, submersion in the physical world. In other words, Mordechai was focused on light, expression, creativity, and Esther on hard reality and action. Therefore, Mordechai reinvigorated the spiritual focus of the Jews, while Esther worked with the reality of the situation, manipulating the physical world so the Divine light could enter and illuminate it.

The miracle of Purim embraces both these elements. On the one hand, it is a miracle, an introduction of Divine light into the world. On the other hand, it was submerged within nature.

Therefore, when it came time to commemorate the

miracle, Mordechai and Esther advocated different

practices corresponding to their principal passion and concern. Mordechai joined Esther in establishing the days of Purim and its mitzvah observances, but Esther made certain that it was canonized in Scripture and would be read every year.The mitzvot of Purim make its miracle tangible and relatable, so we can grasp its implications. Reading the Megillah aloud from a scroll brings the miracle into the physical world, because it is inscribed with ink and parchment and vocalized with our mouths.

Mordechai, who focused on enlightening the soul

with Divine illumination, advocated only for the mitzvot of Purim, with the goal that they inspire the person to remember the story and reflect upon it. Esther, who was more concerned with transforming the material world, asked for the Purim story to be remembered not only in our minds, but that it be verbalized physically and written on parchment. It is not enough to inspire the soul; we must transform and elevate the world with tangible action.

From Kehot's

Deluxe Edition

Megillat Esther