Lots of Luck

Free translation and adaptation of a discourse by
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Purim 5713 [1953]

by Rabbi David Rothschild



A Chassidic discourse is the most developed form of the inner Torah. Every word is sculpted by Divine Inspiration. Delivered to coincide with a weekly Torah reading or Jewish festival, these discourses make a spiritual connection with auspicious times.

Concepts from Kabbala and Zohar are developed to perfection. Their relevance to the Five Books of Moses and Tanach (Old Testament) as well as passages from the Talmud is expounded upon. This reveals their "inner meaning."

These discourses presuppose a familiarity with Torah. Perhaps for these reasons, only a handful has been translated into English and published as books by the Kehot Publication Society.

Over the course of two hundred years, the Lubavitcher Rebbes delivered thousands of discourses. Now for the first time they are being made public on the Internet.

In the texts that follow an attempt was made to abridge and elucidate their content. To provide background information for difficult terms and concepts, additional material from other Chassidic discourses, appears in brackets. The remaining content is a free translation.



I. Lots of Luck
Goat Gamble
Birthday Miracle
Master of Will

II. Mute Monarch
Almighty Ahasuerus
Silent Sheep
Divinity Display

III. Holy Hangman
Preeminence Preemption
Soul Selections
Infinity Standards


Part 1 (of 3)

I. Lots of Luck


[Following the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, Jews were banished to Babylon, Persia and elsewhere. Sixty-two years later, in the year 356 BCE, the miracle of Purim occurred.

After three generations of assimilation, Persian Jews were similar to their present day counterparts in the Diaspora. Despite the paltry quality of their religious observance, they merited one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history.

"For Haman the son of Hammedata, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to exterminate the Jews and had cast a pur, that is a lot, to terrify and annihilate them. But when Queen Esther came before the king, he commanded in writing that (Haman's) wicked scheme, which he devised against the Jews, should fall on his own head; and they hung him and his sons on the gallows. Therefore, they called these days Purim from the word pur". (Esther 9: 24-25)]

"Therefore, they called these days Purim from the word pur." 1 ""Pur" is the Persian word for lottery. 2 It is necessary to understand what the meaning of lot is. For the verse implies that it is the central miracle of Purim. Since the entire miracle is named after this word.

The Zohar states 3: "Yom Kippur is similar to Purim." Because Yom Kippur is described as being only similar to Purim, it follows that Purim is on a higher level than Yom Kippur.

Purim and Yom Kippur are both associated with lotteries. The Talmud relates 3 "On Yom Kippur there were two goats, identical in appearance, stature and monetary value." A lottery determined which goat would be sacrificed and which one would be sent into the wilderness. Consequently, the repentance of Yom Kippur, in all its ramifications, was contingent on a lottery.

Goat Gamble

[The Day of Atonement lottery is set forth in Leviticus. "From the congregation of Israel he shall take two he-goats for a sin offering." 5 "Aaron shall cast lots upon the two he-goats: one lot 'for HaShem' and one lot for 'Azazel'(a mountain precipice in the desert)." 6 Azazel is a construct of two Hebrew words az-el. El translates as "strong;" az means "difficult." 7

Leviticus continues 8, "Aaron shall bring near the he-goat designated by lot for HaShem and sacrifice it as a sin offering. And the he-goat designated by lot for Azazel shall be left alive before G-d to provide atonement, by sending it to Azazel, the wilderness."

The Mishnah relates how the lottery was performed. "Two identical sin-offering goats were brought before the High Priest inside the Temple. One goat was positioned facing the Priest's right side; the other goat was placed opposite his left side. A wooden box containing two wooden lots was placed before the High Priest. On one of the lots was written 'to the Name (G-d)'. Upon the second was inscribed 'To Azazel'.9

"After shaking the box to mix up the lots, the High Priest reached inside and removed them, one in each hand. The lot that was taken by his right hand was placed on the goat opposite his right side. And the lot that was grasped in his left hand was put on the left-sided goat. 10

"The High Priest then tied a red cord onto the head of the goat chosen to be sent to Azazel. Then he lashed a gold band around the neck of the goat selected for sacrifice." 11]

Birthday Miracle

A lottery figures prominently in the Purim story as well: it brought about the miracle of Purim. Queen Esther records in the Megilla, "In the first month, the month of Nissan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, pur, that is a lot, was cast in the presence of Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar." 12

[First Haman had a lottery performed to ascertain the month he would find success. Then a second lottery was made to determine the winning month's fortuitous day. 13]

Haman knew that Moses, the redeemer of the Jews, had passed away on the seventh of Adar. So when the lottery fell on the seventh of Adar, Haman rejoiced. But Haman didn't know that Moses was also born on the seventh of Adar! 14 The very fact that the lottery fell on the month of Moses' birth was in itself the principal miracle.

Master of Will

Lotteries operate on a plane which is higher than reason and understanding. "Lots are cast in secret; their judgment is from G-d." 15

[The workings of a lottery are unperceived by man. Although people believe lotteries are left to chance, in truth the outcome isn't accidental. Rather, the Providence of G-d guides it. 16]

In respect to lotteries, one doesn't rely on reason or will. Rather he expects the outcome to be decided solely by the lottery. Lotteries are above intelligence and will; they reach the Master of Will.

[The Master of Will wills a particular will; he decides what should or should not be willed.]

Although Yom Kippur and Purim are both dependent on the result of lotteries, nevertheless Purim is loftier than Yom Kippur. For on Yom Kippur atonement is contingent on repentance. But on Purim, additional factors aren't necessary. The lottery itself brings about the miracle.


There exists, however, a second correlation that equates Yom Kippur and Purim. Both holidays are above G-d's Name (the ineffable four-letter Name, Y-H-V-H). On Yom Kippur repentance arouses the innermost aspect of G-d. The Zohar describes this level as G-d's Essence, which is prior to - that is above - the revelation present in His four-letter Name. 17

[As King David implored, "I seek Your Inwardness." 18 The Hebrew word for inwardness is derived form the same two-letter root as the word for preceding.]

[G-d's four-letter Name is the revealed source of the 613 Commandments. As the verse intimates, "This is my Name eternally, and this is my remembrance from generation to generation." 19 The numerical value of "my Name" (shemi) is 350. When added to the first two letters of G-d's name - yud and heh - the tally comes to 365. This equals the number of Torah prohibitions.

"My remembrance" (zichri) equals 237. Added to the last two letters of the four-letter Name - vav and heh - the number 248 is reached. These are the 248 positive commandments of the Torah.

When a positive commandment isn't observed or a negative commandment violated, then the mitzvah's source in the letters of G-d's Name becomes blemished. On Yom Kippur, repentance arouses G-d's Mercy, manifest in the inner aspect of the sefirah of Crown (Keter) which is above the four-letter Name.

G-d's Name commences with the letter yud - symbolizing the sefirah of Wisdom (Chochmah). From within the inner aspect of Crown shines forth the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. Since they originate from a place, which is higher than the source of Torah and mitzvahs, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy have the power to correct defects in the Name. Hence Yom Kippur is before or above G-d's Name.]

Purim is also higher than G-d's Name. That's the reason G-d's four-letter Name doesn't appear even once in the entire Book of Esther.

[The upper point of the Hebrew letter yud - the first letter of the four-letter Name -- corresponds to the outer dimension of the sefirah of Crown. Allegorized as a human skull, this aspect of Crown serves as G-d's faculty of Will. Will, then, is the concealed source of mitzvahs. Likened to 613 pathways embedded in the skull, the mitzvahs are expressions of G-d's Will. 20 King David hints, "All G-d's way;" 21 and "I will see your ways." 22 The numerical value of the word Keter is 620. This hints that Will is the source of the 613 Torah commandments and the seven rabbinical injunctions.]

On Purim, one reaches a level above Intelligence and Will, until connecting with the Master of Will Himself.

[on to Part 2]


[Rabbi David Rothschild, a resident of Tsfat, is the founder and editor of Nefesh Magazine.]


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