From Purim to Pesach
When people think of “great Jewish holidays”, Pesach is – unquestionably – towards the top of the list. However, our Rabbis have taught us something that contradicts that statement. In the future, when Mashiach arrives, every Jewish holiday will be discontinued except for Purim. Some Rabbis state that Chanukah will also remain, although everyone holds that Purim will definitely endure and continue to exist. No more Pesach??? (What about my yearly Seder in Cancun or Greece?? Heaven help us…)
To get right to the point, allow me to ask a simple and fundamental question. What does Purim have that Pesach does not? The Slonimer Rebbe, in his classic work “Netivot Shalom”, writes that Purim accomplished something that had never been done before: Jewish unity of historic proportions. The Rebbe writes that it can all be found in 5 simple words. When Mordechai was dressed in sackcloth, Esther did everything she could to change his mind from the pessimistic outlook he had, yet nothing helped. Mordechai was convinced that the fate had been sealed and that absolutely nothing could overturn the tragic decree. The Megilah states that the decree was signed with “the seal of the King” – which the commentaries point out means by Hashem Himself. Had it stated that it was signed by “King Achashverosh”, things could have been changed but Mordechai pointed out that it was signed by “The King” – a reference to the King of Kings, whose decrees cannot be overturned. Queen Esther understood Mordechai’s point and then she said the 5 words that changed Jewish history forever. She uttered 5 simple words which immediately ended Mordechai’s mourning and began the redemption process we so desperately needed. These 5 words were not said by Chanukah, nor any other Jewish holiday, and it is these 5 words that the Rebbe says are the reason that Purim will last forever.
What did Esther say? “Gather all the Jews together” (Book of Esther, 4:16) She instructed Mordechai that as horrible as this decree was – and even though it was signed and sealed by Hashem Himself – it could still be overturned and eradicated if all Jews, every single one, would come together in the nearly impossible 72 hour fast. All Jews would be needed; not just the religious ones. Not just the Rabbis or the holy students who learn Torah, but every single Jew in Shushan. Yes, the Jewish men who had tattoos, plus the Jewish women who wore pants and the Jewish teenagers who shaved their heads must all come together with the Jewish men who wore black hats and the women who covered their hair together with the teenagers who haven’t left the Beit Medrash!! Queen Esther said that we need all these Jews… together as one! And what happened? Mordechai followed her command and every Jew united – resulting in the end of Haman and his evil plan. A decree “sealed by the King” (Hashem) was overturned because of the incredible power of something we laugh at in today’s modern world; Jewish unity!!!
Chanukah did not have this unity. Matityahu screamed “Whoever is for Hashem, come with me” and only a handful of Jews began the battle vs the Greeks. A handful. No other holiday had this secret ingredient. Even Pesach – the holy, incredible holiday we love so much – saw just 20% of the Jews leave Egypt while 80% perished because they preferred to stay behind. Only Purim had this winning formula of “gather all the Jews together” and it is due to those 5 words that Purim will endure forever.
I think about this all time, especially when I look at our fragmented nation. Everybody rushes to put Jews into different compartments although what we need to do is the total opposite; to look for ways to bring ourselves together. We have become experts at dividing Jews and separating one from another. We need to understand that Jewish unity is not simply a “good idea” but the only real way to end the problems we are facing as a nation. “Gather all the Jews together” – Let this be our banner and our guiding force because when Jews truly stand as one, no Haman or Hamas can stand against us. ISIS and Hezbollah are powerless and so is Iran when – and only when – the Jewish nation stands together as the strong and proud nation we were meant to be!