The Dates the Megillah is Read
The letter was addressed to Rabbi Moshe Eliyahu Gerlitzky, one of the students of the Lubavitcher Yeshivah in Montreal. He - as a spokesman for the student body of the yeshivah - had invited the Rebbe to his wedding so that he would provide the students with a live connection to the Previous Rebbe and the Divine service which he sought from them.
B"H, Thursday, 11 Adar II
(a day on which the Megillah is read), 5703
Greetings and Blessing:
I will begin by asking forgiveness for the fact that I did not send you a written answer to your letter previously. The reason was that I was very involved in preparing the calendar for Lubavitcher Chassidim that will be published in these days. I am certain that the answer that I had sent verbally was conveyed by our friend, the chassidic mentor, Rabbi Shmuel Levitin. I am certain that the telegram I sent was received at its proper time. And now I am sending a letter as atonement - to appease and as a present - and so that it will serve as a farbrengen [on paper] for the days of Purim which are coming.
The Mishnah teaches: "The Megillah is read on [Adar] 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,... for [the inhabitants] villages read it earlier on the day they enter [the larger towns]." To explain this concept in our Divine service in brief - note also the explanation of the entire Mishnah in the Maggid Meisharim by the Beis Yosef, Parshas Vayakhel.
The intent of the Megillah is the story of the [Purim] miracle, a reflection of a pattern [of Divine revelation] above nature. And yet, the Purim miracle was enclothed in nature. The difference between [these two modes] is explained in the maamarim of Purim, the Biurei Zohar of Parshas Vayikra, and the maamar entitled Padah BiShalom, 5698.
With regard to the parallel in our Divine service, the difference between these modes can be explained as follows:
See the maamar entitled VeAtah Im Na, 5678, which explains that even with regard to miracles which transcend the natural order, we find different levels. [This is also apparent] from our Sages' words (Berachos 57a): "miracles" and "a miracle of miracles," and "a miracle within a miracle" (Shmos Rabbah 12:4). And Shmos Rabbah 26:3 makes a distinction between miracles worked by Aharon, by Moshe, and by the Holy One, blessed be He. The differences between these levels can be compared to the difference between [the influence of the level] of chayah and that of yechidah, or the difference between the mesirus nefesh of Rabbi Akiva and Avraham, [our Patriarch].
- Divine service that is dictated by reason and logic (nature);
- Divine service which begins by transcending reason and logic with a powerful will, but is directed to matters which are afterwards drawn down within reason and logic, with the will directing one's intellect (a miracle enclothed within nature);
- Divine service which transcends intellect entirely (an overt miracle).
Reading the Megillah refers to publicizing [G-d's] miracles within the world, drawing down this quality into our everyday lives. The approach [which emphasizes] kabbalas ol that does not take reason and logic into consideration can be expressed on five different levels [which correspond to the five dates mentioned previously]. It can effect only one's actual conduct in thought, speech, and deed. Or it an also permeate one's love and fear, i.e., one's emotions. Or it can have a deeper effect, changing one's thoughts, i.e., the fundamental way which one appreciates reality; or it can effect the essence of one's will, or the essence of the soul. [These five levels] parallel the four letters of G-d's name Havayah and the point of the Yud. As is well-known, the levels of nature and miracles correspond to the names Elokim and Havayah.
The Megillah is read on five dates - from [Adar] 11 to [Adar] 15. For with regard to the first ten days - the ten handbreadths closest to the earth, the material plane of Asiyah, the Divine Presence never descended below ten handbreadths (Sukkah 5a). And conversely, the public domain extends only ten handbreadths [above the ground] (Shabbos 7b). Therefore, the reading of the Megillah which refers to a miracle and not nature, begins from the eleventh of the month.
A place where there are ten Torah students who ignore their work and are present in the synagogue at all times for prayer (Megillah 5a, note the responsum of the Rambam which conveys his conception of the above) - i.e., the ten powers of the soul are not involved in worldly activity, but instead are connected with G-d - is called a city, as it is said: "G-d is great in the city of our L-rd." In such a place, the Megillah is read on the fourteenth of the month, i.e., G-dliness is drawn down into all the first four levels mentioned above, for they are all in a desirable state. It is not read on the fifteenth, [however,] because with regard to the essence of the soul, the point of the yud, [the person's status is uncertain]: "I do not know in which path they are leading me." (Likkutei Torah, the synopsis of the maamar entitled Lo Tashbis Melech, and the maamar entitled Tefillin d'Marei Alma, 5653.) When, by contrast, [one's city] is "surrounded by a wall," i.e., even the distant encompassing light is [revealed] in a complete manner within him - [the Megillah] is read on the fifteenth, alluding to the point of the yud.
To refer to the maamarim concerning the Megillah in Derech Mitzvosecha, Vol. II (p. 302b): "The Megillah is read from the eleventh to the fifteenth, referring to the revelation of the name of Havayah.... Thus on the fourteenth, the yud shines. But on the fifteenth, in the cities which are surrounded by walls and in Shushan, the point of the yud is revealed."
When, however, [a city] does not have ten such Torah scholars - based on what was explained above, [in a personal sense, this refers to a person] whose Divine service is still grounded within the bounds of reason, intellect, and the natural order. He is not a permanent resident of "the city of our G-d." Therefore he requires the inhabitant of a city to read the Megillah for him, i.e., to draw down a miraculous order within his spiritual life.
This reading begins on the eleventh, i.e., to cause his Divine service which is relevant to actual deed to be above the realm of intellect, or on the twelfth, i.e., that it should also permeate his emotions. The date depends when he will go to the city for judgment, for the ascent from the level of an inhabitant of a village to that of an inhabitant of a city must be preceded by judgment and an additional level of refinement.
The Talmud questions why it is possible for an inhabitant of a city to read - i.e., to draw down - [this miraculous approach] to an inhabitant of a village. For on the surface, what connection do they have to each other? For as is well known that there is a great difference between Atzilus and Beriah Yetzirah, and Asiyah, or within the individual world of the soul, between Chochmah and the other powers.
[The Talmud] (Megillah 4b) explains that [this is because] the villagers provide food and water for their brethren in the city, i.e., they refine and prepare material entities so that they would be on a level appropriate for the inhabitants of a city (as explained in Derech Mitzvosecha, Mitzvas Yi'ud, there are different levels involved: the level of a Caananite servant, that of a Hebrew servant, and that of a Hebrew maid-servant). This makes [the villagers'] brethren, i.e., connected and bonded, [to the inhabitants of the cities]. And therefore an inhabitant of a city can read the Megillah for them.
The passage concludes (2a): When does this law with regard to the villagers apply? When the general situation is as it should be. This can be explained based on the explanations given in the maamarim of Rosh HaShanah, explaining why the shofar is sounded and the lulav is taken [or not sounded and taken] in the Beis HaMikdash and in the outlying areas.
[The passage in Megillah continues:] "Since [people] look toward them." This also relates to the law regarding the prohibition of chametz on Pesach. For these persons may transgress and eat chametz on Pesach. With regard to ordinary Divine service [in the era of exile], on such a [low] level, the inhabitants of the villages were also obligated to read on the fourteenth, to draw G-dliness into their entire spiritual makeup.
With the blessing "Immediately to teshuvah, immediately to Redemption,"
Rabbi Menachem Schneerson
- (Back to text) HaYom Yom.
- (Back to text) [Megillah 1:1.]
- (Back to text) [Chayah and Yechidah both reflect levels of soul which transcend reason and logic. With regard to the level of chayah, however, G-dliness is seen as an external factor, a quality above one's own being. Yechidah, by contrast, refers to the level of the soul which is identified entirely with G-d; it has no other definition of self. See the maamar entitled VeAtah Tetzaveh, 5752.]
- (Back to text) [Rabbi Akiva desired mesirus nefesh throughout his entire life, as he told his students (Berachos 61b): "When will I have the opportunity of fulfilling it?" And yet, this itself indicates that he saw mesirus nefesh as an external goal, the quintessence of his Divine service. Avraham our Patriarch, by contrast, did not seek mesirus nefesh at all. He was so identified with his mission of spreading G-dliness throughout the world that he gave no thought at all to personal fulfillment, or even self-transcendence. See the maamar entitled Basi LeGani, 5711, where this concept is explained.]
- (Back to text) [The name v-u-v-h which because of its great holiness is not pronounced as it is written.]
- (Back to text) [An analogy for the forces of evil.]
- (Back to text) [Vol. I, Responsum 123 (reprinted from the manuscript in Yerushalayim, 5718).]
- (Back to text) [For prayer (vkhp,) is a process of connection with G-d.]
- (Back to text) [Tehillim 48:2.]
- (Back to text) [Cf. Berachos 28b. As explained in the maamarim cited, the quote means that even when a person's actual conduct is beyond reproach, it is possible that the forces of even will control his subconscious motivation that stems from the essence of his soul.]
- (Back to text) [Those maamarim explain that while the Beis HaMikdash was standing, the shofar was sounded and the lulav was taken on the first day of those holidays even when they were celebrated on Shabbos. After the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, however, that practice ceased. The rationale for the difference in practice is that during the era the Beis HaMikdash was standing, higher levels of G-dliness could be drawn down and there was a distinction between the Divine service performed in the Beis HaMikdash itself and that of the outlying areas. Once the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, these higher levels were inaccessible and a uniform standard of practice - at a lower level - was instituted. Similar concepts apply with regard to the reading of the Megillah.]
- (Back to text) [I.e., base their calculation of the calendar accordingly. Our Sages feared that the simple villagers might not know that the date for the Megillah reading was pushed forward and would think that it was being read on the fourteenth of Adar. Thus they might err in calculating when Pesach, which is celebrated in the following month, is celebrated. Accordingly, they might err and eat chametz on Pesach.]