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Purim: Redeeming the Sin of Eden
Video 3 of 7
So let's try this on for size. Remember Adam and the Garden, G-d had elevated Adam above all the other creatures of the world, all the other animals, and G-d, the King of Kings had given Adam everything; Mikol eitz hagan ochol tochel - G-d had told Adam. From all the trees of the Garden you may surely eat, paradise is open to you. There's just one thing you can't have, it's the tree of knowledge of good and evil, don't touch that tree, that's My special tree. Then what happens? Adam and Eve who have just been allowed to eat from any possible tree go and just head for the one thing they can't have. It's almost like it all means nothing to them. All of those trees you could have - you know, we don't even have any evidence that they ever ate from one of them, the only thing that mattered to them was the one tree they couldn't have.
Now who does that remind you of in the Megillah? You got it, that is Haman. He was a man elevated above all the other king's servants, he was given power just as man in the original garden was given power over all. But here was this man who has everything and listen to what happens. On his way out from the palace one day as everyone bowed to him, out of the corner of his eye he spied Mordechai, one person who wouldn't bow. He becomes enraged.
He comes home and gathers all his close friends and family; Vayesaper lahem Haman - Haman told them that; Kevod oshro - how rich he was; V'rov banav - how many children he had. That; Kol asher gidlo hamelech - and how the king had elevated him. That; Asher niso al hasarim v'avdei hamelech - how the king had brought him above all of the other servants of the kingdom. Va'yomer Haman - and then Haman said, you want to hear how great I am? Af lo hevi'ah Esther hamalka im hamelech - the queen didn't invite anyone else to this great feast that she's making; Ki im oti - except for me. Gam lemachar ani karu lah im hamelech - even tomorrow I'm going to eat with her again.
Look at me. I've been exclusively invited to dine with the king. Then shockingly he says this. V'chol zeh einenu shoveh li - and none of this matters a whit to me. B'chol eit asher ani ro'eh et Mordechai hayehudi yoshev b'sha'ar hamelech - every time I see Mordechai sitting there and not bowing to me, it all means nothing. This is the Adam situation with the forbidden fruit. I have everything, but it means nothing because there's one thing I can't have.
You know, you've got to kind of feel sorry for the guy, listen to how pathetic he is. I mean he's calling his together his wife and family to tell them about how many children he has, how much money he has. It's like he's trying to desperately convince them of his wonderfulness and he really does have everything. What was the pinnacle of everything for Haman? It was how he was called to dine with the king. You know that was just like Adam too. Adam's great gift is the ability to dine with the King, the King of Kings, he's there in G-d's Garden, and has all these fruits, all these trees that G-d made. If he would eat of them in G-d's presence in the Garden, what he's really doing? He's dining with the King. Both of these people are in exactly the same position, but it all means nothing to them because of the one thing they can't have, how sad.
But I don't think that's all, I think there's more. Let's see if the continuation of that story continues to remind us of the tree of knowledge episode.
So the next thing that happens is that Zeresh, Haman's wife responds to him. She says; Ya'asu eitz gavo'ah chamishim amah - why don't you make a gallows 50 Amot high? Ubaboker emor el hamelech - and in the morning you'll go to the king and you'll ask him permission to hang Mordechai on it. You'll have the one thing that's so far eluded you. What does that remind you of in the Garden? Adam was offered the fruit - the forbidden fruit, the one thing he couldn't have - by Eve, and now Haman's wife Zeresh tells him, well why don't you just have the one thing that you haven't been able to have? But isn't it interesting what the gallows are called in Hebrew? Ya'asu eitz - literally an Eitz is not a gallows, you know what it is? It's a tree. It's the tree of knowledge all over again, it's the one thing you can't have, she's offering him the fruit.
But what are the consequences of eating forbidden fruit back in the Garden? B'yom achalcha mimenu mot tamut - the way the Ramban understands it, G-d was saying, on the day that you eat from it you'll become a being that will eventually die. That's exactly what happens to Haman. In his reaching for Mordechai, the one thing he can't have, he also becomes a being who is eventually going to die. He himself is hanged on those gallows at the end of the story.
Why was he hanged on those gallows? Haman meets his end after Esther points him out as the villain who will destroy her and her people. The king is fuming, he goes back into his garden of all places to think things over. When he arrives back he's greeted by a certain member of the court named Charvonah. I just need to tell you king that in the backyard of Haman's house, do you know what there is? There's a huge gallows. He was trying to have that one last thing. He was trying to have Mordechai; Asher diber tov al hamelech - Mordechai who had been loyal to you, who had been good to you. When the king hears this, that's the last straw; Teluhu alav - hang him on those gallows. The king's realization that Haman had reached for that fruit becomes the reason Haman will die.
Okay, now having seen all of these tree of knowledge connections within the Haman and Zeresh story, I think we're now in a position to understand the very next scene in the Megillah in a much deeper way. What happens right after this little discussion between Haman and his wife over the gallows upon which Mordechai will be hanged?
The king can't sleep, he asks for the book of records to be open and read before him, and he hears about when Mordechai had saved him from an assassination plot and he says, was there anything ever done to reward Mordechai for this? The people say, no there wasn't. Just then he hears that there's somebody out in the courtyard, and who is it, and it just happens to be Haman. Haman is there to ask for Mordechai's head. The king says bring in Haman, and the king says, what should we do with the man that the king wants to honor? Va'yomer Haman belibo - Haman said in his heart; Lemi yachfotz hamelech la'asot yakar yoter mimeni - who would the king want to honor more than me? Haman says to the king; Ish asher hamelech chafetz bikaro - the man the king wants to honor, oh; Yavi'u levush malchut asher lovash bo hamelech - bring in the king's clothes, that the king has already worn. V'sus asher rachav alav hamelech - and the horse that the king has ridden upon. V'asher nitan keter malchut b'rosho - and that the crown of the king has been on the horse's head. Have one of the king's servants lead this person through the streets and say, thus should you do, the man the king wants to honor.
I mean you're the king, you're listening to this, you're thinking, it's just king, king, king. This guy wants my job. Haman's transparent desire to be king has never been more evident than this. It's worth wondering why. Why is this the moment in the Megillah where he just can't contain his ambitions anymore? Well the very last thing that happened is Haman built the gallows for Mordechai, he tried to have the one thing he couldn't have. What's the reason why you reach for the one thing you can't have? So you can pretend that you have no restrictions. So you can pretend that you are king. The act of building the gallows for Mordechai is in effect the same thing as wanting to be king. It's wanting to be entirely unrestricted. So it's no wonder in the very next scene that Haman's obsession with being king simply can't be contained.
Here by the way is the real tragedy of it all. He knows he's not king. He's just playing dress up, he's pretending to be king, he's fake king. Everyone's looking at him [so 9:05] he's king. But that's Adam in the Garden too, right? If you have the forbidden fruit, you think you're going to be king? Or are you going to pretend that you're the owner of the Garden? It's all about pretending; if only for a moment that all of it is mine and that I have no restrictions.
You know, if you think of it, now that hope that we could just pretend that we have no restrictions, to pretend that you're a king, is not just about megalomania, it's not just that cartoonish character who says, it's mine, it's mine, it's all mine. There's a reason why you want it to all be yours. There's a subtle but precious prize here to be gotten. You know what's really in it for you? What's really in it for you is that if it's all yours, if you're really the owner of the garden, if you could really pretend you're king, then there's no distinction anymore between the two kinds of good. Between good in the sense of what I want, and good in the sense of the way things should be. The two are the same, what I want is the way things should be, I'm king. Everyone would just love it if what you desired was the same as the way things ought to be. You'd never have to feel guilty about pursuing any desire. The good and the true and the just and your desire it's all the same thing. You make the rules.
By the way, we see little bits of pieces of this everywhere in our own lives. It's the boss who treats everyone around the office like garbage, but no one can call him on it, because he makes the rules, it's just the way it is. He doesn't even have to feel guilty about it, because that's the way it is, what he decides goes.
This issue, this fantasy that you could just conflate the two kinds of good, that there will be no distinction between what you want and what's good and just and right, that, as we talked about in our first couple of videos, is the real soul of the tree of knowledge challenge. It's that issue which Haman and Zeresh are struggling with. But it's not just them. The Megillah doesn't just include the bad guys Haman and Zeresh, it includes good guys too, Mordechai and Esther. If the bad guys are struggling with this tree of knowledge issue, wouldn't the good guys in some way have to be struggling with it as well? Let's take a look at that in our next video.
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