Three Russian Defeats

Although Purim is past, our private war with Amalek continues unabated. What timeless messages can we learn from Mordecai and our tzaddikim to help us win the war?

5 min

Kalever Rebbe

Posted on 13.03.24

Faith Fuels Happiness 

Tragedies and horrible stories can impact a person’s happiness. People hear about acts of violence, homicides and terrorism taking place throughout the world. They are worried, anxious, and concerned about the speculation that nations are on the verge of war with designs to destroy and annihilate one another. 

These worries foster a sense of unease and unsettledness. Their potential happiness is overshadowed by all of their angst. 

Emunah alleviates all of these worries and concerns and allows a Jew to find happiness in the security of his faith. Jews need to strengthen their emunah, faith, during times of uncertainty and anxiety. They need to believe that everything that occurs in this world is an expression of a Divine Design, a providence, Hashgacha pratit, even a heinous crime like murder. 

A Jew must have the faith that a person can only be taken from this world by Heavenly decree. Nothing in this world that can happen of its own volition. A murder can only happen if the spiritual forces of impurity have been given permission from the Heavens to corrupt a specific place and time.   

Purim’s Power 

There are many stories of tzaddikim throughout the generations, who used their power of kedusha and holiness to nullify and abolish the forces of impurity that corrupt the enemies of the Jewish people, and it was seen clearly that the enemies are controlled by spiritual forces. 

This was especially evident during the miracle of Purim, when Mordechai successfully utilized his power of kedusha, holiness, to destroy Haman and his impurities. Through that effort and the subsequent miraculous salvation, the month of Adar became an auspicious time to overcome the forces of evil, in particular the wicked nations who persecute the Jewish people. As Chazal taught us (Ta’anis 29a) that if a Jew has a court case with a non-Jew, he should do everything in his power to have the case heard in the month of Adar when the Jews have a good mazal. 

The Meor Einayim (Parshas Mikeitz) explains that when a Jew performs a mitzvah that celebrates a specific moment in time, the same spiritual dynamics are awakened as when those events originally happened, and the mitzvah was first given. Purim was a time when the Amalek fell. Therefore, in every generation, the day of Purim and its mitzvot are embedded with those same potent spiritual capabilities. Every year, through the holiday of Purim, the Jews can harness the strength and ability to cause the downfall of wicked nations.   

Modern Day Mordechai

It is worth mentioning as a sample, that this was seen in Russia’s history. 

In the record of Russian history, there were three times when the heads of state, who have been true enemies of Yidden and Yiddishkeit, were abruptly overthrown. Each of these incidents occurred on Purim, the day when the righteous succeeded in overthrowing and nullifying the forces of impurity. 

The first time was on Purim in 1855. Nicholas I was ruling over Russia and he instituted brutal decrees on the Jewish people. 

That year the Sar Shalom of Belz, zt”l, spoke at his Purim tish focusing on the topic of the enemies of the Jewish people, the tyrants who intend to do them harm. The Rebbe explained that the Heavens give permission to the wicked to inflict their evil on the world, but there is a limit, a quota. And, when that limit is met, those wicked individuals must be removed from the world. Then the Rebbe rose to his feet and said: “The wicked Nicholas has already filled his quota, and the time has arrived for his downfall.” 

Afterwards, the world had learned that Nicholas I died that very day. 

The second time was on Purim in 1907, the year when Nicholas II signed into law harsh decrees on the Jewish citizens. 

In that year, R’ Shalom Ber of Lubavitch, zt”l, delivered a Chassidic discourse discussing the power of the righteous to overthrow the wicked. Then, he traveled to the capital city of Petersburg to read the Megillah. On that same day, on Purim, the revolutionists began rioting in the capital, resulting in the eventual dissolution of the Russian government. They killed Nicholas II in the end. 

In 1913, Stalin, may his name be erased, decided to deport all of the Jewish citizens to Siberia. This would be the third time the wicked rulers of Russia would be destroyed on Purim. 

R’ Shalom Schnitzler, the late head of the beit din (religious court), told me that at that time he was living in the Russian town of Hungary. A group of Jews from his town decided to travel to the city of Kalov, in order to pray at the grave-site of my holy ancestor, R’ Yitzhak Isaac of Kalov, zt”l. This holy site is famous for being a place where one could manifest the power of salvation in the merit and strength of the tremendous tzaddik. They arrived before Purim. They prayed for an end to their suffering and their cries pierced Heaven’s heart and the heavens opened. A short time later, they received the good news that Stalin had died suddenly that Purim day.   

Rooted in Faith

The power to abolish these impure forces and to destroy Israel’s enemies, is dependent on holy Jews strengthening their emunah and faith, to the point that they believe fully and completely in Hashem, they trust that everything in this world is from His Divine Intervention and, subsequently, they do not to fear their enemies at all. 

R’ Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch zt”l was engaged in spreading the Yiddishkeit throughout Russia, even though it was in direct violation of the laws imposed by the Communist Party who outlawed any public display of religion. Eventually, he was arrested and held in a prison that was known for its inhumane and nightmarish conditions. The Rebbe decided that since he was imprisoned for spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit, then the Communists Party and its enforcers were clearly fueled by the forces of impurity. But their power was only superficial and temporary. Eventually, they would be vanquished. Therefore, he did not bend to their will in the slightest. 

He remained steadfast in his ambivalence towards the guards and interrogators. When they ordered him to remove his tzitzit, he did not listen. And even when the miracle happened and they came to inform the Rebbe of his surprising release, the Rebbe would not stand for the warden as was required by the prison rules. He viewed that even that small gesture would be perceived as an acceptance of their authority over him. He would not allow that. Miraculously, they subjugated themselves to him!   

Mordechai’s Insolence

This can justify Mordechai not moving at all when Haman passed, as it says (Esther 5:9) “He neither rose nor stirred because of him…” He did not want his movements to be misconstrued and perceived as a sign of submission or recognition of the power of impurity and evil embodied by Haman. 

Instead, he gathered the school children to pray to Hashem, demonstrating that a Jew only needs to depend on Hashem, that everything is in His control and, therefore, there is nothing to fear. He strengthened the Jews’ emunah, reminding them that everything in the world is Hashgacha Pratit. 

Victory during the war with the Amalek also depended on this level of emunah. Chazal taught (Rosh Hashanah 29a), that the Jews overcame the power of Amalek when Moshe raised his hands upward causing them to look towards the Heavens. It was a reminder to have emunah that everything is the result of a Heavenly Decree. When the Jews held to that emunah, the Amalek was weakened and defeated. 

Therefore, we can suggest that this is the reason we read Parshat Zachor about the war with the Amalek on the Shabbat before Purim. Both these events express the same theme. The purpose of Purim is also to remember to annihilate the Amalek and its impure forces in each generation by strengthening our emunah and prayer. 


The Kalever Rebbe is the seventh Rebbe of the Kaalov Chasidic dynasty, begun by his ancestor who was born to his previously childless parents after receiving a blessing from the Baal Shem Tov zy”a, and later learned under the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l. The Rebbe has been involved in outreach for more than 30 years, and writes weekly emails on understanding current issues through the Torah. You can sign up at  

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