The Essence of Purim

As we all know, there is a tremendous amount of excitement on Purim.  It is supposed to be totally for kedusha and in a manner that 100% conforms to Torah mandate.  Alas, the reality on the ground is often anything but.  The instances of undesirable and sometimes even tragic occurences – both spiritual and physical – runs the gamut.  This fact forces us to wonder.  Chazal decreed that shofar is not blown when Rosh Ha’Shana falls out on Shabbos.  Likewise, the mitzvah of dalet minim is suspended on Shabbos.  Why?  Simply because we are concerned that someone may come to carry them through a public domain and thus violate Shabbos.  Because of the potential of someone being nichshal – albeit not all that likely – Chazal cancelled these mitzvos.  Why, then, did they not nullify Purim?  Seeing that Purim – which is only m’d’Rabbanan, as opposed to shofar and dalet minim - carries potential for the occurrence of serious problems, why did Chazal not see fit to annul it?

By the second set of luchos, Rashi explains that “there is nothing better than modesty.  Because the first luchos were given amidst a tremendous amount of drama, commotion, and excitement, it was susceptible to ayin hara and ended in disaster.  The second luchos, on the other hand, were given under conditions of quietude and modesty and lasted.”  The question, though, is this: what was the whole purpose of the gigantic to-do of the first luchos?  Hashem obviously knew the lesson of “there is nothing better than modesty” even before the debacle of the eigel ha’zahav, so why didn’t he just do it in the quiet, modest manner right from the get-go?

What we can derive from this is that the great commotion and excitement, the kolos u’brakim was an absolute necessity.  When Torah comes into the world, it comes in with brilliant lightning bolts and crashing thunder.  This is what makes an enduring imprint on the entire creation – which stood in absolute stillness and attentive silence when Hashem appeared to His nation – that Torah has come down to this realm.  Likewise, it is what engraved the eternal impression of Torah on the hearts of the Jewish People and caused it to be absorbed into their very lifeblood.  Although the first luchos did not manage to endure because of the ayin hara that the great to-do brought about, the indescribably powerful impression that came along with them - which is critical for Torah’s perseverance – endures forever.

The underlying, fundamental characteristic of Purim is the hadar kibluha b’ahavah, the willing reacceptance of Torah – specifically Torah sheh’b’al peh – with great love and desire.  The exterior manifestation of this kabbalas ha’Torah of Purim is the great and eminently public commotion of the spectacular salvation of the Jewish People to which the whole world bore amazed witness.  This fantastic drama and fireworks is only fitting for a kabbalas ha’Torah.  Nevertheless, the reacceptance of Torah itself that occurred on Purim was completely quiet and modest.  It was hidden.  The whole world had no idea that Klal Yisrael reaccepted the Torah with love.  It was Klal Yisrael – in the private sanctum of their hearts – that took advantage of the Purim miracle’s thunder and lightning to lovingly reaccept the Torah in a way that it would remain forever engraved on their hearts.

So too is it for all generations.  The great commotion that takes place outside on Purim day is what enables each ben Torah to experience the powerful impression of Purim which empowers him to reaccept the Torah with great love.

What is further fascinating about all this is the day that was chosen to be the Yomtov of Purim for all generations.  It was not on the day that the miracle of salvation took place – which was on the day before Purim – it was the day of menucha, when Klal Yisrael rested following their victory over their enemies.  This, in stark contrast to all other Yamim Tovim that were instituted on the day that the miracle thereof took place!

The reason for this, explained my rebbi Rav Yisrael Elya Weintraub, is that the miraculous salvation is not the main thing we are commemorating and celebrating on Purim.  Rather it is the hadar kibluha b’ahavah, the loving reacceptance of Torah that is the primary cause for celebration and joy; and this took place specifically from within the state of menucha that Klal Yisrael experienced the day following their divinely orchestrated victory.

During their day of menucha – which parallels the menucha of Shabbos and is thus a taste of Olam Ha’Bah - when they were able to contemplate all that had happened and fully absorb its implications, they became so inspired by the miracle they had experienced that they were moved to reaccept the Torah with such powerful love and yearning.  This, explained Rav Weintraub, is the essence of Purim and is why Chazal instituted it specifically on this day.

(From notes of Rav Twersky zt”l and notes of a talmid)

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