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When all  Lights Went Out... Drasha for Purim

03/15/2022 11:20:51 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin


When the Messiah comes, says the Talmud, and all the crooked paths are made straight and the worm of hate in the heart of humanity has been excised at last, all of the festivals will be abolished.  No more Passover or Yom Kippur.  No more Shavuot or Chanukah.  Why?  Because the holidays are all like candles of holiness burning in the darkness of this darkened world.  But when the dawn of salvation finally comes and the world is filled with light, there will be no more need for candles.  When G-d's Presence is restored to earth, the festivals, G-d's whispered voice in the darkness, will be superfluous.

Only one festival will still remain.  Which one?  Purim, as it is said in the Megilliah itself: these days of Purim will never pass from the Jewish people.

But what is so special about Purim that it will last even into the Days of Messiah?  

There are those who say that Purim is different.  All the other holidays celebrate G-d's Presence in the world.  Passover is filled with the miracles of the Exodus.  Shavuot is infused with the miracle of the Revelation of the Torah.  Sukkot celebrates the miraculous clouds of glory that sheltered our journey.  Chanukah's menorah celebrates the miracle of the victory and the oil.  Only Purim celebrates not G-d's Presence but G-d's absence.  G-d is missing from the Megillah.  No one prays in the Megillah, no one calls upon G-d's mercy.  G-d is absent.

And yet, hidden in the serendipitious events of the Megillah is G-d's hidden Presence.  The rejection of Vashti, the choseness of Esther, her arrival at just the right time, the sleeplessness of the king and the random recitation of how Mordechai saved the king just as Haman burst in to ask that Mordechai be killed... Coincidence after coincidence leading to salvation and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.  That is what we are celebrating on Purim.  Even when G-d is gone, G-d is present.  Even the darkness derives from the divine.  And that is why Purim will never pass from the calendar: for if the holidays are candles, Purim is the Presence of G-d even without light.  A holiday for eternity.

But it seems to me that this is incomplete. The salvation of Purim was no coincidence.  It was an act of will by the courageous and compassionate Hadassah bat Avigail, Queen Esther, seizing the initiative, storming heaven and the throne room of Persia by her hope and her faith and her action.  

The Torah was given to Israel amid the cataclysm of the Exodus.  The Midrash has Mount Sinai being lifted into the air and hovering over the heads of the Israelites: Choose Torah, choose freedom, or perish!  

So we chose Torah, but out of fear.  That was the first time we accepted Torah.  Because we were compelled to by that moment of liberation.

In the Megillah it also says that we accepted the Torah: They established what they had previously accepted.  But this time, rather than accepting the Torah out of fear and awe, we accepted it out of love.  

And that is why Purim is eternal.  Because love is eternal.  Esther dared all, hoped and fasted and acted, out of love.  

So when we give each other Purim baskets and gifts to the poor and even when we hear the Megilla being read, let us all be motivated and uplifted by love, the candle of G-d's light that is the ultimate uplift, that is the path and the practice of at last, bringing Mashiach, of the restoration of the world.  Chag Sameach! 

Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784