08 Mar GET YOURSELF OUT OF THE WAY
On the Shabbat before Purim – “Shabbat Zachor” – we fulfill the com mandment to remember Amalek’s attack on the Jewish People shortly after they left Egypt. This mitzvah is associated with Purim because Haman descended from the nation of Amalek.
The name קלמע† in gematria equals 240 – the same as the gematria of the word םר† – “high.” The Torah warns in the Book of Devarim (8:14) that after people become wealthy, there is the risk that ךבבל†םר† – their hearts will become “high,” meaning, they will be arrogant. They will think that everything is about them. They will be consumed by their own achievements and their own wishes.
When people think that everything is about them, there is no room for Hashem. This is why the Gemara teaches that Hashem says about an arrogant person, “He and I cannot live together in this world.” If a person is focused exclusively on himself and how great he is, then there is no room for G-d.
This was Amalek’s mistake. Beneh Yisrael earned great fame because of the miracles of Yetziat Mitzrayim and the splitting of the sea. Amalek attacked Beneh Yisrael out of ego, because they could not see another nation receiving so much praise and so much attention.
We fight Amalek, the danger of ךבבל†םרו , through humility. This is why it was Moshe who led the people to victory over Amalek. Moshe is described as the humblest man on earth. It is through humility that we defeat Amalek.
Many centuries later, Ester defeated Haman – who, as mentioned, descended from Amalek – through humility. Ester put her life on the line to rescue her nation, approaching Ahashverosh uninvited. And, the Gemara comments that Ester invited Haman to her feast to make Ahashverosh think that she and Haman liked each other, and the king would then kill them both. She was willing to sacrifice her life so that the Jews would be saved.
The Megillah tells that at the time of Haman’s downfall, when Ester revealed to Ahashverosh that he was planning to kill her people, הטמה†לע†≠†לפונ†ןמהו† – Haman was falling on her couch to plead for his life. The first letters of this phrase – ה†¨ע†¨נ†¨ו† – spell the word הונע† – “humility.” Haman, like the rest of the nation of Amalek, which represents ego and arrogance, is defeated through humility.
Purim can fall on only four days of the week – Sunday (א® , Tuesday (ג ), Thursday (ה ) and Friday (ו ). These four letters spell the word הואג† – arrogance. This holiday is the time of אוה†ךופהנו† – when we turn everything around, when we transform our arrogance and self-centeredness into humility.
Ego gets in the way of success in every area of life – business, marriage, parenting, and religious observance. No matter what we’re involved in, we need to have the humility to listen to other people, to take their wishes and opinions into account, and to learn what we as yet do not know. And certainly when it comes to religious observance, we need to have the humility to know that we are fully under Hashem’s control and under His authority.
I have, unfortunately, seen so many people become their own worst enemy, who get in the way of their success, because of their ego. They refuse to yield, to give in, or to accept advice, and end up ruining themselves.
On Purim, which celebrates our victory over Amalek, let us commit to defeat our ego, to get ourselves out of the way, so we can bring great salvation to ourselves and to our people just like Ester did through her great selflessness and humility.