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Posted on February 23, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

And Mordecai inscribed these things and sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, both near and far, to enjoin them to make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and the fifteenth day thereof, every year, as the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day-to make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews took upon themselves what they had commenced to do and what Mordecai had written to them. (Esther 9:20-23)

Then Moshe wrote this Torah, and gave it to the priests, the descendants of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of HASHEM, and to all the elders of Israel. Then, Moshe commanded them, saying, “At the end of [every] seven years, at an appointed time, in the Festival of Sukkos, [after] the year of release. When all Israel comes to appear before HASHEM, your G-d, in the place He will choose, you shall read this Torah before all Israel, in their ears. Assemble the people: the men, the women, and the children, and your stranger in your cities, in order that they hear, and in order that they learn and fear HASHEM, your G-d, and they will observe to do all the words of this Torah. (Devarim 31:9-12)

We might think that a Prophet is needed only to foretell the future but it is becoming increasingly clear that a Navi – a Prophet is necessary to tell us what just happened. To understand history accurately and learn the correct lesson we need people with prophetic stature. So much can become distorted almost immediately and certainly over time without hearing the true story from an utterly reliable source.

In a world where historical revisionism rampant and where the victor writes their version of events, how can we be certain that a given occurrence actually happened? The Kuzari states a principle that it is possible for someone to convince others and even masses that he experienced some advanced mystical state or arrived on a magic carpet or whatever but he could never convince a group of people that this is what they experienced when they really didn’t. Otherwise, Moshe took a giant risk at the end 40 years in the dessert when he declared the following:

“For ask now regarding the early days that were before you, since the day that G-d created man upon the earth, and from one end of the heavens to the other end of the heavens, whether there was anything like this great thing, or was the likes of it claimed? Did ever a people hear G-d’s voice speaking out of the midst of the fire as you have heard, you, and you lived?” Moshe tells the Jewish Nation assembled there – then and for all all-time that no one will ever match or attempt this historical claim of a nation of 600,000 adult males between the ages of 20 and 60 hearing The Almighty speak directly to them. He emphasizes the word YOU. While some may claim magical powers but no one can tell others that this is what they experienced, if it didn’t happen. No such claim has been made since!

There is another type of historical event that cannot be denied or disputed. Let us take for example the Magna Carta in 1215 and the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In both situations there was a serious legal document that was approved and signed by an assembly of representatives. That document was transcribed and widely distributed to a mass of constituents whose daily lives were seriously altered by the laws and commitments contained in that document. After it was distributed and spread out, to alter one letter, would require changing every extant copy of that document. That’s not impossible!

So, it was with the Megillah of Esther. The amazing happenings of Purim were written down contemporaneously, at the time of the actual event and that Megillah was spread out to the Jews all over the world. It describes and prescribes the laws and behaviors for Jews for all time. And so, we adhere to these laws and read that exact same scroll every year on Purim. The book and the people are as two witnesses testifying about the veracity of those events 2,500 years ago.

The Torah too was written and distributed and we keep its laws till this very day, and so says the Navi, the Prophet Isaiah (43:12), “ATEM AIDAI NEUM HASHEM” – “You are My witnesses, so says HASHEM.” By observing the laws in the Torah and celebrating on Purim we are actually HASHEM’s living witnesses to His Story.