SIMPLIFY & SOAR 20223/5873
ADAR – Malchut: Mystery, Hidden Miracles, and the Color Black
At the core of the soul is a silence that ripples into the music of beauty
and the whisperings of the Eternal.
~ John O’Donohue
The month of Adar arrives with mysteries and celebration, with laughter and revelation, with fun and paradoxes. On the festival of Purim, when we read the scroll of Esther, we find that the month contained much emotion – the anxiety of threatened destruction, the joy of victory over the enemy, and the celebration with gifts, parties, and laughter. Because the hidden miracles of God’s exposure of the enemy, Haman, and the rescue of His people are now revealed, we can enter the month of Adar with faith, trust, and unreserved joy. As a reminder many people put up a sign, or note on their calendar: Be happy it’s Adar!
Of course, in general, we should not cover up any sadness with fake happiness. We know that life brings both good times and bad, rain and shine, darkness and light. However, we may use a smile as a mask to cover up pain because we know that the deepest joy in our soul, which no challenge or enemy can rob, is real and everlasting.
Interestingly, in Temple times an announcement was made on the first day of Adar that a tax of half a shekel must be paid by each Israelite on or before the first day of the following month of Nissan. Commenting on the half shekel, the sage Resh Lakish said:
“The Creator of the world knew Haman would pay money (shekalim) to convince Ahasuerus to give him permission to destroy the Jews. So the Holy One made the Jews give their shekalim first. This is why the announcement of the half shekel tax must be made on he first of Adar.” (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 13b)
Whereas Haman’s bribe of the king was made in order to bring separation and destruction, the money paid by the Jews necessitated that two halves be joined to make a full shekel, illustrating the bringing of people together in unity.
FACING THE DARKNESS
We recognize that there is darkness in the world. There are ongoing wars, murders, terrorist attacks, abuse, and molestations. This external and visible evil is a result of mankind’s negative thoughts and beliefs and harmful behavior. We also know the internal darkness of sadness, disappointments, betrayals, shattered dreams, losses, and illness. Much, if not all, darkness is a consequence of a world that is not at peace, or in harmony with its purpose. Every brokenness is a dissonance caused by separation from the reality of who a person truly is – a spiritual being, created by God and in His image. When one ignores the transcendental need of knowing one’s identity and the very purpose of life – the reason for being alive, it causes fragmentation and brokenness. As Rabbi Simon Jacobson describes:
“When a soul is detached from its Source, this detachment is at the root of all the problems and the reason for people hurting each other in terrible ways that we abhor.”
The reality we need to face is that we live in a fragmented world and can personally suffer the effect of this fragmentation.What we do can either add to the brokenness and separation or help to heal it by joining fragments together to bring about Tikkun – healing and repair. This Tikkun happens every time we show genuine love and compassion to another person. When we can act selflessly. As Rabbi Jacobson also says: “Every time we are kind and do a mitzvah – an act that helps someone, we are going against our natural, selfish, narcissistic nature, and we are repairing and reconnecting one piece of the fragmented puzzle.”
Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, used the image of a shadow as a depiction of the dark, mysterious aspects of the self which are relegated to the unconscious. He held that the shadow was comprised of all the negative, painful experiences a human accumulates. Part of the task of being free to be one’s full and true self is the recognition and retrieval of the banished shadow. Jung also declared the shadow was 90 per cent gold. A person thus needs to accept and dig through the soil of the darkness to find the treasure.
We don’t fight the darkness within by resisting and condemning it. As we settle into the calm and “silence of the soul,” as O’Donohue described, we can hear the “whisperings of the Eternal.” The truth of its whisper highlights the line between true honor and egoism, kindness and chaos. It encourages us to embrace the darkness in its light, to illuminate the dark places of despair, and to persevere in dignity, respect, beauty, and love.
SELFISHNESS VS SELFLESSNESS
Self-centered people are constant “takers.” Even a good deed can be done for selfish reasons; for what one can get in return. Babies are naturally selfish. They must have their needs met in order to survive. Usually children need to be taught to give and to share with others. As we mature, however, we need to find the healthy balance between self care and caring for others. One cannot neglect one’s own needs and health and offer genuine care to another.
Mussar teacher, Gadale Fenster, presents an interesting perspective on an aspect of selflessness.
“ [A selfless] life begins when we stop taking things personally. To be a person of truth, one needs to be swayed neither by approval nor disapproval. Work at not needing approval from anyone and you will be free to be who you really are!”
Letting go of the need for approval is key in letting go of any bitterness, resentment, guilt or insecurity. We also need to remember that a person can be really loving and kind and yet might not be accepted or valued by some people. You can be shining like sunshine and yet walk into some heavy rain clouds. You can be as genuine and caring as humanly possible and still be viewed negatively and rejected. Relationships can be messy and things can go wrong despite giving it your all.
On the other hand, when our ego and selfishness are holding sway we can be the “bad guy” in a situation through our actions and reactions to others, especially those close to us. This is why we need to be aware and to be constantly cleaning out our hearts – recognizing a negative trait, cleaning out any junk, and continuing to grow through it all! Then we can apologize, make things right when necessary, and go forward with the wisdom gained. We can more easily stay humble and offer others a lot more grace, understanding, and compassion.
MALCHUT AND THE COLOR BLACK
In Jewish literature ‘malchut’ always is described as an empty vessel; one that receives and absorbs energy that flows from above it. We can envision our lives as empty vessels, inasmuch as the more they are emptied of negative, selfish ego (as opposed to healthy, self respect) they are ready to receive from above the constant infilling, prompting, and enabling of the Spirit of holiness.
Malchut is a feminine concept, and, fittingly, our biblical character of the month of Adar is Queen Esther. Hadassah (Esther), as a young Jewish virgin, was wiling to empty herself of her own concerns and trust her godly uncle Mordechai in order to do the unthinkable – marry the king of an idolatrous empire. In doing so she became a key vessel in God’s plan for the salvation of His people from the enemy’s evil plan for their destruction.
The Hebrew word ‘malchut’ – מלכות means kingdom. A deep desire, as His children, is to be a vessel for His purposes in our Father’s kingdom – the Kingdom of God. How to accomplish this is not always simple and clear. Just as with Esther, it requires faith and trust. The Kingdom and workings of God are not fully revealed in this physical world. One needs to ‘dig,’ as it were, beneath the surface in order to find the truth and the treasures. T
Colors evoke certain feelings and associations. Interestingly, the color black, which often is viewed negatively as the color of darkness, is connected with Adar. Note how poet and author, John O Donohue, on the contrary, refers to the “secrets of darkness”:
While music delights our listening, color calls forth the secrets of darkness and light to bring forth joy to the eye.
White light is known to be the source of colors, seen when reflected through a prism or in a rainbow. Black, however, is the most ‘ancient’ and original color from which everything emerged at the beginning of Creation. It provided the background for the light and beauty that became visible. Black reflects the mystery of the unseen and the unknown. The ‘black’ of Malchut, therefore, presents the backdrop for the beauty and glory of the Light of God and His Kingdom.
Scientifically, an object reflects color by absorbing certain light rays of color and rejecting others. For example, a daffodil absorbs red and green and rejects yellow, which, consequently, is the color we see. Black occurs when an object receives and absorbs all the colors and rejects none. The blackness we see is the outer surface beneath which all the colors secretly dwell.
In the light of the above, we can ask ourselves these questions posed in Megillat Esther – the Scroll of Esther:
- What were Mordechai’s motives for allowing Hadassah to be taken to the harem as a prospective wife/queen for the king Achashverosh?
- Did Hadassah have any legitimate control over the situation?
- Were king Achashverosh’s motives and actions justifiable?
- What were Haman’s motives?
- As Queen, did Esther have any authority in the threat of the massacre of her people? What did she draw upon for strength?