Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is Why We Call Our Holiday Purim

Megillas Esther 3:7 “In the first month, which is the month of Nissan, in the twelfth year of King Achashveirosh, pur was cast in the presence of Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.”

“Tanna: When a lot was pulled from the month of Adar, Haman was incredibly happy. He said, ‘I picked a lot that represents the month that Moshe died.’ He didn’t know however that on the 7th of Adar, Moshe died and that on the 7th of Adar he was also born.” – (Megillah 13b)

Why was it such a great thing that Moshe was born in Adar, regardless he also ultimately died during that month? Also, why is the holiday called Purim, don’t we usually name our holidays based off of the miracle that happened to us; the Pur was the key to our supposed downfall?

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l explains in the introduction to his work Darash Moshe, that the other Nations of the world believe that there are specific people who are considered to be ‘holy’. These people wear distinct clothing, they don’t get married, and they don’t drink alcohol. All of this however is fake holiness. Using this system, the rest of the people can respond that only the holy people have to keep the commandments of morality and trust but normal people are free to do whatever they please. Not only that but if by chance one of these ‘holy people’ slips and sins all of their observers will rationalize that because this clergyman can sin, so can they. The rules of modern society are thus dictated by these ‘holy people’ who can toy with the rules as they please.

The Torah however is not like this. The Torah tells us that everyone must abide by the same laws and moral code. We are all on the same level. This can be learned out from Moshe Rabbeinu who was born and who had a wife. He matched everyone else. Every person whether they be great or simple has the same laws. From this it can be that a great person learns from a simple person and vice versa. For both of them were born and their present stature is only a testament to the amount that they have worked.

As a result of this, if a great and knowledgeable Torah scholar slips from the path of the Torah, people do not follow his ways because they realize that all of the scholar’s greatness is from the Torah. Once this person leaves the path of the Torah he is no longer considered to be a Gadol. (As discussed in, “A Nation of Mordechais”)

Now we can understand why Haman was ecstatic to see that the lot fell in Adar. Haman was of the understanding that since Moshe, the great leader of Klal Yisrael had died their grasp of the Torah had weakened as well. The truth however was the complete opposite. Just like Moshe died during this month he was also born. Each and every Jew, from the moment of their birth has the potential to be great like Moshe. Moshe’s death was just a reminder to the Jewish people that Moshe was not supernatural but that he was a great person. Not only that but when people see that a great Talmid Chacham has died they feel the need to fill this void with more Talmidei Chachamim. A Tzaddik’s death only strengthens Klal Yisrael.

We therefore see that when Haman picked the “pur” and it was the month of Adar, He made a tremendous miscalculation. This miscalculation was our fortune. This is why we call our holiday Purim.


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