Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

White Noise and Purim

Written by the Rebbe, Rav Michel Twerski, shlit"a, for Purim 5751 (1991)

(from Turning Pages, 64-65)

White noise. Remember white noise? It's the specially crafted "noise" modem technology concocted to blot out the many undesirable sounds and noises which surround us constantly. Ostensibly, if one wishes to escape the cacophony of whirs, buzzes, clanks and rings of contemporary life, one invokes an electrical "sound box" to release a comforting stream of static noise (white noise) which, by focusing the attention of the listener exclusively to this soothing sound, blocks reception to all other noises extraneous to itself.

Super modern? The cutting edge? Not so! It's really an old Jewish approach to counteract the presence of noxious stimuli and influences in our environs. Reflect for a moment on the significance of the Purim "grogger." Year in, year out, as the "baal korey" reads the Megillah, every ear is poised to register the mention of the name, Haman, at which point, an explosion of noise erupts from the waiting "groggers" to obliterate the hated name of this villain of Israel. Since this practice is observed by sage and child alike, we must assume that Tradition has adopted this method with serious intent. What's the message?

I would suggest that the answer is to be found in consideration of our response to "evil" in general. In last analysis, the ugly reality is that the world hosts an abundance, perhaps a predominance, of evil - evil, in all of its twisted, hurtful, selfish, corruptive guises. Do we, in pursuit of the good and the ethical, the right and the moral, resort to closing our eyes and shutting our ears to the hateful sounds and sights of immorality? Or, do we acknowledge the fact that putting our hands over our ears does preciously little to shelter us from the mighty assault of evil against our sensibilities?

Clearly, one must fight noise with noise, "white" noise to counteract "dark" noise, positive to overcome negative, good to drive away evil, and beautiful, harmonious melodies to drown out the discordant and raucous shouts of violence and brutality. The "grogger," as such, is hardly a toy. It represents Judaism's conviction that every Jewish man, woman and child must have the means of blocking out the pernicious influences of their environs, or suffer being corrupted by them. Unfortunately, parents of a generation ago felt that lecturing their children and screaming, scathing denunciations of the prevalent evils would suffice to ward off the overwhelming effects of the American street. But, no figurative "groggers" were distributed, and the result was tantamount to putting their hands over their young charges, so that they wouldn't listen to the self-indulgent messages of out culture. History has registered its verdict of this technique in the most costly of terms - runaway assimilation and epidemic desertion of Jewish values.

We and our children need the fortification of our own white noise - Torah, Avodah and Gemilus Chasadim - Torah knowledge, Divine service and acts of loving kindness to obliterate the intrusive noises of our times. Each of us must equip ourselves with the biggest and the best spiritual "groggers" we can summon to our assistance - renewed diligence in the study of our Tradition - renewed dedication to the needs of others - renewed depth and feeling to our striving to touch G-d. For only with such re-dedication can we seek to redeem our individual and collective ethical genius from the unremitting grip of an increasingly decadent milieu.
So, my friends, as the tentacles of Haman proliferate to strangle the vitality of all things truly sacred, let's stop cursing the darkness and get our "groggers" out. Listen carefully it comes...Haman...

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A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for posting this. I just found a used copy of "Turning Pages" online and ordered it!

Damesek said...

You are sure to enjoy it. There are some absolutely mindbogglingly beautiful pieces in there, not to mention it is written in the inimitable style of the Rebbe himself, along with other members of the family. They are refreshingly candid, honest and inspiring. I would love to hear if you have any ha'aros on what you find there.