It is the appreciation of and desire for da’as gained on Purim that opens the heart of the Jew to the true meaning and opportunity of living by Torah. If Purim does not result in this da’as, a vision of the world and history as God sees it, then Pesach become ritualistic and meaningless, or, at best, “traditional.” As the rabbis have pointed out, it’s all dependent upon where you place the ayin (which can mean “eye”):
(ayin, nun, gimmel — nun, gimmel, ayin)
The word on the right, negah, which is associated with the punishment for speaking loshon hara, is made up of the same three letters as the word oneg, which means “delight.” The only difference is the placement of the letter ayin, which the rabbis interpret to mean that it is the outlook of the person that determines his or her sense of contentment or displeasure in any given situation.
The wise man’s eyes are in his head, and the fool walks in darkness. (Koheles 2:14)The fool walks in darkness specifically because his eyes are not in his head. Rather, he thinks with his physical eyes, so-to-speak, which is what the Torah warns against:
Don’t spy after your heart and your eyes. (BaMidbar 15:39)And when someone thinks with his eyes, though:The heart and the eyes are the spies of the body, that is, they lead a person to transgress: the eyes see, the heart covets, and the body transgresses. (Rashi)
... The paths of God are straight—the righteous walk them, but the evil stumble in them. (Hoshea 14:10)This is what happened to ten of the twelve spies who had gone out to investigate Eretz Yisroel before entering. Their crooked ayin had caused them to see what was supposed to have been a blessing as a curse:
They [the spies] brought back to B’nei Yisroel an evil report of the land which they had searched, saying, “The land which we investigated is a land that eats up its inhabitants ... ” (BaMidbar 13:22)Hence the following:[The spies reported that] “In every place we passed we found them burying their dead!” However, the truth was that The Holy One, Blessed is He, did this for their good, to involve them [the inhabitants of Canaan] in mourning to distract them from paying attention to the spies. (Rashi)
Why does the letter ayin come before the letter peh [in the Aleph-Bais]? Because of the spies, who spoke about that which they didn’t see. (Sanhedrin 104b)Thus, what should have appeared as the helping hand of God appeared instead as the hindering hand of God. Instead of encouraging the people to accept the gift of Eretz Yisroel, they dissuaded them from going up.
The truth is, it had been the same story with the munn:
But now our soul is dried away; there isn’t anything, except the munn we see ... (BaMidbar 11:6)What makes the righteous so successful is that they don’t think with their eyes; it is Amalekian to do so. They use their eyes to collect “raw” information, all along accepting the premise that nothing is necessarily as it first appears to the external eyes. With Da’as Elokim, they peal away the externalities, and find the hidden brocha within.We see nothing but this munn—munn in the morning, munn in the evening! ... But The Holy One, Blessed is He, wrote in His Torah, “... And the munn was like coriander seed,” to say, “See Nations of the World! My children complained, though the munn was excellent in so many ways!” (Rashi)
No holiday requires as much foreknowledge and preparation as the holiday of Pesach. The stringencies involved in correctly keeping this holiday are often, understandably, a great source of anxiety for the God-fearing Jew. However, it is da’as that unifies a Jew with his avodas Hashem—his service of God—and it is da’as which transforms labor into labor of love.
This was Moshe’s parting message to the Jewish nation:
Now, Yisroel, what does God, your God, ask of you, but to fear God, your God and to walk in His ways ... (Devarim 10:12)On the surface, this statement sounds simple; indeed, too good to be true! However, even the God-fearing Jew has to ask the obvious question: Isn’t fear of God but one of the 613 mitzvos incumbent upon the Jewish nation, and one, it might be added, that is very difficult to do?
However, Moshe was telling them that, the difference between viewing the Torah as a burden weighing 613 mitzvos, or in seeing it all as one mitzvah that is easy to perform is dependent upon perspective, that is, one’s level of da’as. Da’as allows a person to see life as God wants it to be seen, which results in a prioritization based upon this perspective. Ultimately, it is what transforms fear of God into love of God.
On this level, every mitzvah is not a “favor” we perform for God, but an act of love, a longed-for expression of our desire to prove our love and loyalty to our Creator. Cleaning for Pesach, and keeping its many halachos become our way of revealing to God (and ourselves) just how close we wish to come to Him.
Hence, if Purim brings us to the level of recognition of the need for Da’as Elokim, and how dangerous the lack of sod can be to the Jewish people, then Pesach shows us how to go about getting that da’as. Pesach facilitates the “extraction” of the inarticulated wisdom of God that lies latent within all of us, buried beneath false perspectives and bodily drives.
[The Talmud (Niddah 30b) states that an angel teaches each baby the entire Torah before it is born. The rest of life is the process of “recovering” that profound knowledge, through learning Torah and doing mitzvos.]
This is why, as we shall soon see, hashbasos chometz (destroying chometz) and bedikas chometz (searching for chometz) is so central to preparing for Pesach. On the night of the fifteenth of Nissan, the light of Da’as Elokim shines very bright, brighter than any other time of the year, and only those capable of holding such Godly light are going to be able to withstand such an exposure and gain from it. Only “vessels” capable of “containing” that light, so-to-speak, will be able to know its freedom.
The question is, what role does the mouth, and speech, play in all of this? For, though Purim began to reveal the role of the mouth in acquiring Da’as Elokim (Haman’s loshon hara led to Achashveros’ submission to his plot; Esther’s honesty about Mordechai’s role in saving the king led to Mordechai’s conquering of Haman; eating from the meal of Achashveros started the events to turn against the Jewish people, etc.), we never quite learned how, or why it does.
To understand this, an investigation into the sod of Pesach is necessary. After all, there is a reason why the holiday that celebrates the birth of the “Kingdom of Kohanim,” of the nation meant to reflect the light God light to the rest of the whole world, is called Pesach—peh sach: the mouth that spoke.
This is the rite of passage from geulah to geulah.