What’s on your mind?
That can be a hard question to answer. Your mind is so magnificently complex that you might be thinking many thoughts at the same time. Some can be easy for you to access, and others more difficult. When you try to address your layers of thoughts honestly, you might gain insight into who you are, and some things that make you happy, sad, or confused.
You can sometimes be hiding from yourself. If you are not in touch with your thoughts, it doesn’t mean that the thoughts aren’t there. It simply means that you are not allowing yourself to focus on them. Since they are still present in your mind, they might come out at inopportune moments or through your behavior, even if you are not aware of it. That is what happened at one of the critical junctures of the Purim story.
The Megillah describes that Mordechai, the Jewish sage and leader, was supposed to be terminated on Passover. Instead, he was paraded victoriously around the city on that same day, bedecked in royal robes on the royal horse, led by his archenemy and planned assassin, Haman.
The Midrash (Koheles Rabbah 5:2) illuminates the background that pivotal story. Achashverosh, supreme ruler of the Persian Empire, had a troubling dream the night before. He envisioned Haman, his second in command, standing above him with a drawn sword, disrobing him from his royal attire, removing his crown, and attempting to kill him. Achashverosh tried to shake the dream but it recurred throughout the night. It was almost morning, and Achashverosh still struggled with his nightmare.
He was still mulling over his terrifying dream when Haman entered the royal chamber. Haman had intended to discuss the immediate execution of Mordechai with Achashverosh. Yet, Achashverosh sensed that Haman might have had ulterior motives in coming, too. He might have been trying to assault him. To test Haman’s thinking, Achashverosh asked him to recommend a procedure for honoring a loyal subject. Haman responded that the honoree should wear royal robes. Achashverosh inquired as to which ones. Haman explained that his intent was Achashverosh’s coronation robes. Haman further recommended that the man ride on one of the king’s horses. Achashverosh asked which horse Haman meant. He again responded that he referred to the horse used during coronation. Haman added that the honoree should wear the royal crown. When Achashverosh heard that, his visage turned angry. He understood that Haman was expressing his own desire to usurp the monarchy. Then Achashverosh silently decided that the time for Haman’s own end had come. He had received proof positive that his sixth sense was correct. Haman was planning a coup. Achashverosh began to plan for Haman’s own end by telling him to prepare that royal parade for Mordechai, instead of for himself.
It is striking that Haman was unable to disguise his thoughts. He unconsciously let them to slip out plentifully. He wasn’t only filled with thoughts of aggression; his persona seemed to exude them. His aura expressed that he was planning to usurp the throne. Achashverosh instinctively sensed this, and his concerns materialized in his dreams. Haman might even have been able to successfully plan his coup if he paid attention to what he was thinking and bifurcated his thoughts from his actions. Instead, he let his thoughts and desires influence his speech and behavior, and gave himself away to the King.
This narrative is as a powerful declaration as to the role of thought and its interplay with actions. All people can generate and harbor negative thoughts or feelings. The difference between a person who leads a morally correct life and one who does not is the ability to work through those thoughts productively. Wonderful people can have not-such-wonderful thoughts. A person who wants to meet with success acknowledges those thoughts and addresses them. Perhaps he will decide to be simply cognizant of them and not let them lead him to incorrect actions. Perhaps he will try to change his cognitions. Maybe he will be more conscious of situations that trigger those thoughts. Perhaps he will embrace all of these, or address the thoughts in a different way. The only way to decide how to navigate and address thoughts is to first notice that they are there.
What often sets people that thrive apart from those that dive is not the thoughts that they have, but how they deal with them. The more you are in touch with the layers of thoughts in your mind, the more you might be able to discover and understand yourself. This can lead to a more fulfilling and successful life, which is something to celebrate, not just on Purim, but throughout the year!