The Heart of the Matter

Adar (2) 15, 5782
March 18, 2022
Candlelighting Time 6:52 PM

            Although the mitzvah is to read the entire Megilas Esther, there are opinions in the Talmud that one could only read part and still fulfill the mitzvah. One of those views is that when King Achasuerus was unable to sleep he requested to have his book of records read to him perhaps there was someone that had benefitted him, and he had not repaid him. The incident when the two guards wanted to assassinate him, and Mordechai discovered the plot and informed the palace of their conspiracy was recalled. Achasuerus wanted to accord Mordechai the honor due him. Suddenly Haman knocked at the door and entered with a plan to kill Mordechai. Achasuerus then asked him what he should do to honor someone. Haman assumed that he was referring to him and said, ‘to his heart’. The Midrash questions why the verse must state that he said to his heart. The answer is that the wicked are controlled by their heart whereas the righteous are in control of their hearts. What exactly is the meaning of the Midrash?

            Maharal explains that one’s heart is the source and beginning of our thinking process. However, the thoughts that emanate from the heart depend on how ‘healthy’ one’s heart is. There are people who are linked stalwartly to Hashem. They are passionate about serving Hashem enthusiastically and fervently. Their thoughts are always bound up in struggling to enhance their spiritual lives and draw closer to Hashem. Therefore, when they begin thinking it stems from a heart that is engrossed and rivetted attentively to Torah and mitzvos. All thoughts emanating from their hearts are pure and vibrant and authentic.

            However, the wicked, their hearts are tainted and polluted with pursuit of their lusts and cravings. They have no desire of commitment to Torah and mitzvos and on the contrary despise those who are involved in such endeavors. They are swept along the sea of endless desires and drowning in their iniquity. When they ponder about what they should do, only themes of yearnings for physical gratification occur to them as the heart is the center of emotion and passion. And these unfortunate people are very obsessed about satisfying their every longing and fancy. When Haman entered the palace of Ahasuerus, the only person that he could imagine that was being thought about was him. His universe of narcissism barred others from entering. Therefore, he said to his heart, well put and truly accurate.     

            Nachmonides in his explanation to Genesis defines what the Torah means when “Hashem said”. It refers to the power of thought and it means that Hashem ‘thought’ and as a result the universe was brought into reality. The entire universe was created with Hashem’s thought and is maintained due to His will that it should be so. How seemingly fragile the entire universe should be, yet it is powerful and strong beyond our comprehension because it is sustained by the most commanding and indefatigable power in the cosmos, Hashem. This then is the strength of the miracle of Purim that we read about how the decree of Haman was averted by the orchestrations of Hashem. Not visible but certain omnipresent and persevering.


When we read the portions in the Torah that deal with the sacrifices, we attain the objective of those offerings. Although we lack the Beis Hamikdash, the Torah, the source of all gives us the atonement of those sacrifices when we are immersed in its study.                                                      CHOFETZ CHAIM

                                                      GOOD SHABBOS