Thursday, March 21, 2019

Purim and the Redemption of the Tree of Knowledge

"Haman min ha'Torah minayin?" The gemara famously asks. 

Where in the Torah do we see Haman?

The unexpected answer to this odd question is, "Hamin haetz". The question that G-d asks Adam and Chava. "Did you eat from the tree I forbade you to eat from?"

What's the connection between the two very different parts of the Torah?

Bereishis comes at the beginning of the Torah. The story of Purim comes at the end.

What is the connection between the Etz HaDaat, the tree of knowledge, and Purim?

Purim's most famous mitzvah is drinking ad de lo today, until you can't tell apart Haman and Mordechai.

One view is that the fruit of the tree of knowledge was the grapevine.

Wine is also the driving force behind Purim, Ahasverosh gets drunk, disposes of Vashti, marries Esther, gets drunk again and disposes of Haman.

Wine is the classic example of the Etz HaDaat. It mixes together good and evil. It unleashes the good and the bad in a person. It exposes a person to new knowledge both good and bad.

The grapevine disgraces Adam and Chava. It disgraces Ahasverosh but that disgrace paradoxically leads to his redemption.

The Haman, the Iago of the Purim story, manipulates Ahasverosh with wine. Esther, like Chava, also manipulates Ahasverosh with wine. But unlike Chava, Esther uses wine to bring out a better self of Ahasverosh, and redeems the Etz HaDaat. And in celebration we drink.