There is a machlokes in the Gemara (Pesachim 6a) regarding when one should begin to study the halachos of Pesach. The Rabbanan hold that one should begin to learn hilchos Pesach thirty days before the chag, whereas Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel holds one should begin only 2 weeks in advance. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 429:1) rules in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbanan: one should begin to study the laws of Pesach on Purim itself. (Mishna Brurah 429:2). The Ba’al HaTanya writes that because these halachos are in print and easily accessible, there is no need for the Rabbanim to teach these laws publicly. Rather, each person should begun to review the halachos of Pesach for oneself, starting on Purim. (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 429:1) Rav Ovadya Yosef rules like the Mishnah Berura, that the thirty days begin on Purim itself, however he adds that if someone has a question about Pesach and someone else has a question about Purim, the question about Purim takes precedence.

The B’nei Yissaschar (Adar 4:10) reveals the inner dimension of this law and the connection between Purim and Pesach it implies in addition to explaining why we do not make “Shehechinayu” on Bedikas Chametz.

It is well-known that the victory of Purim is a victory over Amalek, the wicked nation from which Haman was descendant and against which Hashem wages war in every generation. The mitzvah to eradicate the memory of Amalek is so foundational to avodas Hashem that the Torah specifies three different elements of this eradication which relate to the three primary functions of man: Thought (“Lo sishkach”), speech (“Zachor”; b’Peh – Sifrei 166a), and action (“Timcheh es Zecher Amalek”). These three elements of the mitzvah correspond to the mentality of Amalek (Chochmah, Binah, and Da’asMachshavah), the higher emotions (Chessed, Gevurah, and TiferesDibbur), and the lower emotions, (Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and MalchusMa’aseh); the Jew’s entire self must be invested in the effort to rid the world around him (and the world he carries within) of this destructive scourge.

The tzaddik teaches that the word “Amalek” is numerically equivalent to 240. 240 times three equals 720, the exact number of hours there are in thirty days. This demonstrates that the hours in the thirty day period which begins on Purim, the primary assault on Amalek, is positioned against the three aspects of Amalek (mentality, higher emotions, lower emotions) our nation is commanded to destroy using thought, speech, and action. Holding on to the special spiritual boost of Purim, a Jew is able to utilize this thirty day period to completely wipe any vestige of this heretical and cynical force from within his heart – drawing down, in its place, the pinnacle of Chessed-Kindness, as ten times the numerical value of “Chessed”, 72, also equals 720. After intensely battling Amalek during these thirty days, a Jew arrives at the Seder bursting with praise and the ability to truly declare “Yishtabach shemo la’ad”, as the word “Yishtabach”, “May His Name be praised”, is equal to 720 as well.

This idea is expressed in the Zohar HaKadosh (Pinchas, vol. 3, 279a), which teaches that the final battle against and eradication of Amalek will take place on Erev Pesach – on the final of the thirty days from Purim. The B’nei Yissaschar writes that this is the reason the night of Bedikas Chametz, erev Pesach, is referred to in the Mishna as Ohr l’arabah asar” (Pesachim 1:1), literally “The light of the fourteenth”, instead of “the night of the fourteenth”. This is a reference to the idea we have been discussing: After thirty days of battling against Amalek in its three manifestations, the nighttime of spiritual darkness is transformed into the brilliant illumination of Chessed, in fulfillment of the verses “And the night will shine like the day”. (Tehillim 139:12) This is also why we do not make a “shehechiyanu” on Bedikas Chametz. Because Bedikas Chametz marks the end of the thirty-day battle against Amalek which began on Purim, it is included in the “Shehchiyanu” made before the Megillah reading on Purim.

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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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