Everyone is going nuts about Purim!!! What’s the big deal??
Is Purim the only time The Jewish People were threatened with destruction and have been saved in the last minute? (For example Sancheriv lays siege to Jerusalem 100 years before the Purim story, a plague strikes, and Sancheriv retreats. We don’t celebrate that event!!) What is the uniqueness of Purim over the other times?
Additionally, we find that this strange celebration “Will never cease. Even in the future, when all other Moadim cease to exist, Purim will always be celebrated! As it says in the Megillah ‘And their Memory will never cease from their descendants.’” [Yerushalmi Megillah 1:5, Yalkut Shimoni on Mishlei #944]. What does this mean??? When Mashiach comes we stop eating matzah, we stop sitting in a sukkah, but we still eat our hamentaschen?
To understand this, we need to look deeply into the times during which Purim took place. The Jewish People at the time, look back at 900 years of constant Miracles and Prophecy. For the first time since Avraham Avinu – both miracles and prophecy come to an end. The Gemara teaches us that Malachi (the last prophet) was in fact Mordechai. Mordechai witnesses the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash, and with that destruction came an end to the “Ten daily miracles in the Beit HaMikdash” (Avot, 5:5).
As the Jewish People look around and feel rejected, the start attending the feasts of Achashveirosh in a bid to gain political favour – but essentially, in their eyes, the uniqueness and chosen-ness is over.
Then comes the amazing HIDDEN MIRACLE of the Purim story. Hashem is still with us!!! Even in hiding! “Megillat Esther” is only a few letters away from “Gilui HaHester” – the revelation of the hidden!
The Gaon of Vilna, in his introduction to the Megillah, (uncharacteristically) tells a Mashal: A king once had an only son whom he loved. However, his love for his son ignited jealousy among the courtiers. At a certain point, the son does something wrong, and his father decides to banish him from the palace so that the son can contemplate his mistake. The king though, knows well of the jealousy and consequent danger for his beloved son in the forest, so he commands his soldiers to walk behind the son in the forest and guard him from any danger. The son, sadly, leaves the palace, not knowing that his father’s guards are protecting him from afar. Soon, a bear comes to attack him – and out of the woods fly arrows to kill the bear, and some men come out of the forest – a lucky coincident! The son continues into the forest, and an ambush organized by the jealous courtiers pounces upon him. In the 11th hour, a kings patrol ‘happens’ to walk past and destroy the ambush to save the son. At that point the son realizes that his father has not forsaken him, and has sent protection – and the father still loves and longs for him. Hashem sent Klal Yisrael into exile, but the purim story is where we see that “Gam Ki Eilech BeGei Tzalmavet Lo Ira Ra Ki Ata Imadi – even though I walk in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I do not fear evil, for I know that You are with me.”
Purim is a special celebration – one relevant today! Particularly with tragedy around us, we draw strength from Purim where we see Hashem’s Hand looking out for us, even though He is hidden.
But why “never cease”? How will this be still relevant to us in the future?
R’ Yitzchak Hutner, in his Pachad Yitzchak on Purim (essay #34), teaches the depth of this “Hidden Hand” and its connection to Klal Yisrael even in the times of Mashiach”
Two watchmen were requested to guard an event at night. One of the watchmen was given a flashlight, the other was not. Both though, had the same task of recognizing people in the cover of night.
On a surface level, there is a certain advantage of the watchman who is given a flashlight over the watchman who was not given one. The watchman who had a flashlight is clearly and precisely able to discern the approaching people. The one who doesn’t have a flashlight, finds it difficult to identify newcomers with precision.
However, there comes a time when the watchman without the flashlight is at a greater advantage: When the sun rises, and the watchman with a flashlight switches it off (there is no need for a flashlight in the daylight!) – he gets rid of the now-useless light that helped him during the night. The watchman without a flashlight, however, had to spend the entire night honing his other senses – noticing the silhouettes, listening out for their voices, trying to recognize newcomers with senses other than sight. When the sun rises for him, all those other heightened senses still remain with him in the daylight! They are useful in the day as well!
When Mashiach comes, and the light of the new relationship with Hashem comes out to the fore – then we will see the difference between open miracles and hidden ones.
Miraculous events (all the Moadim are “Zecher LeYetziat Mitzrayim”, which was the epicentre of relationship built on miracle and wonder), are like the flashlight with which we see the uncontested Hand of Hashem – but in the future, when the sun rises, and the miracles of the future will eclipse those of Yetziat Mitzrayim – those miracles will fade into history.
The hidden protection of Hashem, which has lasted for the last 2 millennia, will remain part of our relationship with Hashem, even at a time when miracles are on the menu. Purim will last forever! We may not be eating the hamentaschen or twisting the greggar – but the meaning of the relationship that purim has will still impact us when Mashiach has arrived.
May he arrive soon.