The Inner Courtyard


All servants of the king… know, that any man or woman who shall come to the king, to the inner courtyard, unsummoned, there is one law for him—to be put to death—unless the king extends to him the golden scepter…

Thus, I shall go to the king, unlawfully; and if I perish, I shall perish…

Esther, 4:11-16

The Torah, say our sages, speaks of the physical realm and alludes to the spiritual realm.[9] On the surface, it narrates the physical history of Israel and lays down the laws of physical life; but within its words lies a spiritual story and a spiritual law, charting the supernal relationship between G-d and His people and legislating the inner life of the soul.

Thus, chassidic teaching explores the inner dimension of the Book of Esther, which tells the story of Purim. On the “physical” level, we read about the Persian King Achashverosh, the heroic Queen Esther, the wicked Haman, etc. On the esoteric level, King Achashverosh is “the King Whom the beginning and the end are His,”[10] Queen Esther is kenesset yisrael, the collective soul of the people of Israel, and the entire story describes the sublime drama of their relationship.

Therein lies the deeper significance of the above-quoted lines, spoken by Queen Esther to Mordechai. Generally speaking, there is an array of laws that govern who may enter into the “inner courtyard” and under what circumstances. There are certain ways in which we are permitted to approach G-d, and certain areas into which we are forbidden entry. As all servants of the King know, there are places where no mortal dare venture.

But there comes a time when a soul must go to her King, lawfully or not. A time when nothing matters—not the penalty for unbidden entry, not the illegality of the deed—save the need to storm the gates of the King’s most intimate chamber and arouse His mercy upon His subjects.

Based on an address by the Rebbe, Purim 5711 (1951).

Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber

[9]. Nachmanides’ commentary on Torah, Genesis 1:1.

[10]. In Hebrew, “Achashverosh” can be read as an acronym of the phrase acharit v’reishit shelo—”the beginning and the end are His.”


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