Purim: Downfall of the Ingrate
Both Adam and Haman had every possible amenity that any person could wish for. But each lacked one small thing; in their minds, everything else was rendered worthless...
by Rabbi Shalom Arush
Our sages say that there is nothing that is not alluded to in the Torah (see Tractate Chulin, 139). So, with Purim almost here, where is Haman alluded to in the Torah? Our sages answer, while elaborating on the passage in Genesis where Hashem asks Adam, "Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat." In Hebrew, "from the tree" is hamin ha'etz. Our sages say that this word hamin - from which - is an allusion to Haman, for both words are spelled the same in Hebrew. We ask ourselves, what does one thing have to do with another? The Gemara here seems strange and cryptic.
Rabbi Yehoshua Cohen explains beautifully that both Adam and Haman had everything in the world. But each lacked one thing. Adam lacked the forbidden fruit and Haman lacked Mordechai's willingness to bow down before him. Their magnitude of blessings meant nothing to them once they lacked one thing.
Adam had all the angels waiting on him hand and foot. Hashem put him in charge of all of creation and all the creations were subservient to him. He had hundreds of exotic fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs to delight in. Instead of rejoicing in all the abundance that he had, he was sad about the one fruit that he didn't have.
Haman the Agagite was King Achashverosh's viceroy, the de facto ruler of 127 nations. All the king's ministers bowed down to him. He was the richest man on earth; he had over two hundred sons. Anything in the world was his. Yet he says, "This is all worthless to me whenever I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king's gate" (Esther 5:13). How can a person be so blind as to ignore his indescribable wealth and good fortune, only to be upset by one small deficiency?
We now see the connection between Adam and Haman. Both were ingrates. Rather than rejoicing and thanking Hashem for all their bounty, they complained about the one thing they lacked. They both made the same mistake. The difference though is that Adam made teshuva while Haman took his wickedness to the grave.
We must all learn to be happy with our lot in life, never complaining about what we lack, but focusing on what we have. Seeing the one ounce that's missing in the glass rather than seeing the seven ounces that are there, comes from the negative spiritual influence known as klipat Haman-Amalek, the impure spiritual force of Haman-Amalek that focuses on pessimism, ingratitude and lack. Our job is the opposite, to focus on the countless blessings that we have and to thank Hashem profusely for them.
We're therefore not surprised at Haman and Amalek's evil eye, for they are descendants of Esau. Rebbe Nachman teaches that Esau's 400 men who accompanied him on the way to his confrontation with Jacob symbolize the evil eye, for the letters of ra ayin - Hebrew for evil eye - have a numerical equivalent of 400 (see Rebbe Nachman's Discourses, 242). Any of the Haman-Amalek influence causes an evil eye. Since the prime Haman-Amalek influence is ingratitude and heresy, we must rid our hearts and minds of any trace of it through learning Torah, constantly expressing our gratitude to Hashem and strengthening our emuna, being satisfied with our lot in life.
In effect, the source of the evil eye is a person's desire to feel like G-d and to trample anything or anyone that stands in his way. The core treatment for such a dire spiritual disease - for the person with the evil eye eventually consumes himself - is to accustom himself to thanking Hashem profusely for everything he has, taking nothing for granted. When a person ignores the blessing of kidneys that function, lungs that breathe, eyes that see and a heart that beats, he is an ingrate of the worst kind. Such ingratitude is an expression of total lack of emuna as well. One who learns to express gratitude virtually corrects the sin of Adam and Eve, who before they sinned, failed to thank Hashem for their blessings. Gratitude and emuna destroy the Haman-Amalek influence. Gratitude, therefore, is the basis of our Purim victory over Haman, Amalek and every other force of evil. The light of gratitude disperses the darkness of Amalek and Haman. Happy Purim!
Rabbi Shalom Arush is an Israeli Breslov rabbi and founder of the Chut Shel Chessed Institutions. He spreads the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov among Sephardic and Ashkenazic baalei teshuva around the world through his books and speaking appearances. Rabbi Arush is considered one of today's leading Hasidic spiritual guides, inspiring hundreds of thousands through his books, audio CDs and online presence.