Around the Year With Purim
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
The Medrash (Mishlei 9:2) states "All holidays will in the future be
annulled, yet the days of Purim will never be annulled." While the meaning of
this passage shouldn't be accepted at face value, it clearly indicates that
Purim has certain unique attributes.
It is explained in the name of the Ariz"al what makes Purim unique. Purim
celebrates our deliverance from the hands of those who oppressed us, those
who plotted our destruction. This is a theme seen in the celebration of
Pesach, as well. On Pesach, we celebrate our exile from Egypt, from those who
enslaved and persecuted us. Both Purim and Pesach share the theme of
salvation and deliverance to freedom.
On Shavu'os, the next holiday in chronological order, we celebrate the giving
of the Torah to the nation of Israel. This theme is found in Purim in well.
The Talmud states (Shabbos 88a) "Said Raba . . . they re-accepted it in the
days of Achashverosh, for it is written, [the Jews] confirmed, and took upon
them,' they confirmed what they had accepted long before." The commentator
Rashi explains that in the days of the Purim story, the nation of Israel
re-accepted the Torah out of love of G-d for the miracle that He performed
for the nation. Hence, Purim is a celebration of the Torah as well as a
celebration of salvation and deliverance.
Rosh HaShana is the holiday on which we are judged for the coming year. Yom
Kippur is the day on which we fast and pray, begging for forgiveness for the
misdeeds we have committed against G-d, so that we will be sealed in the Book
of Life for the coming year. Purim contains elements of both of these
holidays. In the time of the story of Purim, the entire nation was in peril.
The nation was guilty of committing acts against G-d. We were to be judged.
Because of the fasting, the communal prayers for forgiveness, and the unity
exhibited by the nation, the nation of Israel was judged for life, and Haman
was judged for death. Purim, therefore, serves as a reminder of how we are
supposed to act in our relationship with G-d, and how He acts with us with
The Sukkah, according to one opinion, represents the Ananei HaKavod, the
Clouds of Glory. These clouds were provided to the nation of Israel by G-d.
They sheltered the nation on all sides from the elements, and protected the
nation from harm. This enveloping of the nation was symbolic of G-d's love
for the people, as if G-d literally took the nation under His wings and held
them close to Him out of love. During the time of the story of Purim, the
nation of Israel clearly saw that G-d loved them. They experienced the
protection of G-d first hand when they were allowed to not only defend
themselves but to go on the offensive against their enemies. This
manifestation of heavenly protection seen on Purim is the same as that which
the holiday of Sukkos commemorates.
On Purim, we tend to focus on those themes which are unique to the day. We
concentrate on the unbridled happiness, the feasting and gift giving which
are part and parcel of the Purim celebration. We have to step back and look
at Purim with a broader perspective, to appreciate all that we are truly
A "Freilichin Purim" to all!
For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.