The major impediment to a proper understanding of Purim is a confusion between madness and the absurd. The distinction is not trivial. Madness is cheap. Absurdity is ingenious.

A joker feigns madness; idiots see themselves and laugh nervously. A comedian commits the absurd, with superb, brilliant genius.

That is the core distinction: Madness has no brains. Absurdity is intelligence in a context of madness.

All of us know madness well. We spend a third of our lives insane. By day, we walk about making rational decisions and at least attempting to make sense. But then at night, a strange thing happens. We lie in stillness and madness sets in. The world survives, but only because we wisely quarantine the madness to the privacy of our own beds. It is madness nonetheless.

The world is filled with madness, infinitely more than it is with sanity. Nature itself is a wondrous weave of the two, of symmetry within chaos, meaning within randomness, signal emanating from within the background noise. The scientist sets his focii upon the patterns, the predictable, that which can be defined and known within reason. His world is a chimera, reality escapes his grasp. For reality is mostly mad.

Religions rely on dogma before reason. Mathematics on axioms before corollaries. Philosophy looks to break the chains of dogma and axioms—and it fails, miserably. For without madness there is no world.

Now let me tell you the Kaballah of reason, madness and absurdity: In our world, madness lies below reason. In the higher world, the positions are reversed.

Reason is G‑d contracting His infinite light within the puny boxes of a consistent world, beating out the notes in rigid conformity to the tick-tock of the metronome, following the color-code in deathly paint-by-numbers order. The result may be magnificent, fascinating, fodder for countless doctorates and journals- -but it is nothing less than a suffocating straitjacket for a living, infinite G‑d.

The unencumbered context of the Infinite Light is totally mad. Anything could be, all at once—or nothing at all. There is no reality since all things could be, therefore none of them really are. Whatever is, is without reason, without meaning, as a toddler will tell you, simply "because."

The Kabbalists call this realm the world of Tohu. It precedes the world of Tikun. The chassidic masters called it the transcendent light that precedes the constricted, orderly realm of the immanent light. From it extends all the chaos, axioms, dogma and madness of our mad world. From tikun and immanent light extend order and reason. And that is why madness has the power to win over reason.

And yet, tikun is the destiny of tohu and its healing. Transcendence finds fulfillment in immanence. And this is where the absurd comes to play.

Purim is absurd because Judaism is absurd because the very existence of Jews is absurd. Ultimately, G‑d is the proto-absurd.

Simply put: Judaism is absurd because it demands an absurd G‑d. A G‑d who wakes in the middle of the slumber of transcendent madness and says, "They are my people, the people of this dream, and I must save them." That isness should care. That that which is should have meaning. Reason in a context that defies all reason.

Jews are absurd because they continue to exist. There is no reason for this. But furthermore—and these two must be related—because we insist on telling G‑d what to do. Not some silly god that sits on a stool and frets over nature. The ultimate Reality of Being. We enter a throne room to which we could never be called, since there we do not exist nor can we exist, and there we say, "Let us tell You how to run Your kingdom."

Purim is absurd because Haman knew the secret of G‑d's madness and rose beyond reason to that place with a lottery, obviating his own reason and appealing to Chaos. Raising his feud with Mordechai to a gallows 50 cubits high, the 50th gate that cannot be understood and there he expected his chance to win, in a place where nothing matters, because it is beyond all that.

And from there was His downfall. For he did not know that G‑d is not just reasonable or mad. G‑d is absurd.

All of reality is absurd, as absurd as the king who decrees that those who he decreed to be eliminated by his decree should stand and protect themselves from those that he decreed should eliminate them—and he prays that they should win.

As light wins over darkness, tikun over tohu, the Jew over his exile. May we soon be redeemed.