We can approach our yearly cycle like a ladder, with our
yomim tovim as rungs to climb to elevate ourselves to
greater spiritual heights. The year starts on Pesach, as it
says, "Hachodesh hazeh lochem rosh chodoshim," which
is the birth of Am Yisroel. Just as with a newborn one
sterilizes and carefully supervises everything the baby
consumes, so too on Pesach, we are extremely careful not to
have any chometz.
We grow until our bar mitzva on Shavuos, when we
accept the yoke of Torah and mitzvos. Succos is like the
chasunah. Just as we do teshuva and fast
preceding our wedding, likewise before Succos we do
teshuva on Rosh Hashana and fast on Yom Kippur.
Finally, the height of celebration of our unity with Hashem
is on Simchas Torah, when we dance with joy.
How does Chanukah transcend the chasunah itself?
Although the chasunah is a joyous occasion, there is
always apprehension and fear for the future. How will the
partner react once the "show" is over and "real life" begins
with its petty quarrels and differences?
When the dark, cold months bring Yovon challenging our
dedication to Hashem, commanding, "Kisvu lochem al keren
hashor she'ein lochem cheilek Be'Elokei Yisroel," and
many Jews turned to the Hellenistic culture, we found that
even in the darkest moments there was an eternal light that
preserves a connection with love. Therefore, Chanukah is even
a higher rung of unity than the chasunah itself that
took place on Succos.
However, the epitome of kedusha is Purim. Purim is the
greatest day of the year. There is so much kedusha and
closeness to Hashem with the opportunity to merit miracles in
unnatural ways. Chazal state, "Kol haposheit yad nosnim
lo" on Purim, and Hashem as well follows this rule on
In fact, Chazal say, "Ein bodkim bemo'os Purim" -- on
Purim we don't check who is requesting a donation; we just
give to all. Similarly, on this day Hashem doesn't check us
to see if we are really deserving. He just gives. Therefore,
it is a special day for tefilloh, brochos, and
bentching, more than any other time.
In order for us to know how to utilize Purim, it is important
for us to understand its uniqueness and how it caps the
progress from Pesach through Chanukah.
Purim is the day we realized our true identity. The essence
of a Jew is "Neshomoh tehoroh shenosato bi," the
breath of Hashem that is within us. That is what makes us
holy in essence. On Purim we appreciate the importance of
every Jew, and we give them monos and mo'os to
be sure to fill everyone's need, for the essence of every Jew
Many Jews have difficulty accepting the fact that Jews are
special and elevated above the nations of the world (though
anyone can join if he is sincere and committed). We get so
influenced by our environment, that we lose our identity.
Sometimes, outside circumstances can bring us greater
understanding of who we are and what responsibilities we
When Homon decreed that he would kill every last Jewish man,
woman, and child, he didn't make any conditions that if we
convert to the Persian religion we would be spared. The Jews
realized that the reason for his extreme hatred was nothing
but our very existence. It was not our philosophies, beliefs
or Jewish dress that they objected to. They weren't trying to
change us. They did not want Jews to exist because our very
existence is a contradiction and therefore a threat to
Who are we?
This situation caused introspection and, after analyzing the
facts, we realized that our physical existence is a threat to
Amolek because we are in essence holy and, since Amolek's
purpose is to conceal any vestige of spirituality and
holiness, its success is dependent upon our annihilation. The
simple existence of a Jew is an antithesis to Amolek's
In parshas Beshalach Hashem declares, "Ki yod al
Keis Koh milchomoh laHashem ba'Amolek midor dor." Rashi
explains, "Ein Shemi vekis'i sholeim." The word
"Keis" is a shortened version of Kisei, with
the final letter Alef missing. "Koh" a
shortened name of Hashem, missing the vov and
hei to complete His name. The omitted letters from
these two word (hei, vov, alef) spell "hu,"
which in Hebrew is the third person pronoun, also termed
"nistar," hidden. Amolek opposes kiddush Hashem
and works on keeping Hashem's reality hidden.
Amolek is the one who conceals and blocks out the truth of
the world by encouraging people to "believe only what you see
with your senses." They are the atheists who ridicule any
spirituality and always come up with a "scientific"
explanation for the most supernatural occurrences. Therefore,
Hashem says His Name, which is His Hanhogoh, and His
Throne, symbolizing His rule, cannot be complete until Amolek
Purim is the culmination of "mechias Amolek," the
destruction of Amolek. They work to obliterate any hint of
spirituality, emphasizing only the physical as real, and on
Purim we celebrate that for a Jew, the physical itself is
spiritual. We have a mitzva of seudas Purim, to eat.
It is not like on yom tov when the food is meant as a
means to get one besimchoh. On Purim the meal is
itself the purpose because the meat and wine are holy when
consumed by a Jew to sustain himself.
It is also customary to get drunk, and we wonder what
actually happened on Purim that causes us to behave in such
an uncharacteristic manner.
HaRav Shimshon Pincus zt"l explains the situation by
analogy to a little boy who, on the way to cheder, got
hit by a car. His worried parents rushed him to the hospital
and waited anxiously to hear the diagnosis of the professors
and the doctors. After many attempts to revive the child, the
family doctor sadly told the parents that their child had
perished. Amidst their anguished cries, a professor rushed
over and declared that he detected a faint pulse. The child
The joy and relief of the parents is unparalleled, especially
because of the turnabout. After his recovery, upon his return
home, the child is greeted with a huge spread of treats and
his room turns into a miniature toy store from all the gifts
of his grandparents and relatives. The love for this child
who was declared dead but came back to life, is
When Mordechai heard of Homon's decree, he was unimpressed.
After all, in every generation the gentiles attempt to
destroy us but Hashem saves us from their hands. However,
when Mordechai asked Eliyahu Hanovi what Hashem says to this
decree, and when Eliyahu Hanovi revealed that Hashem signed
it, then Mordechai realized that it was all over.
Teshuvoh itself would not save the Jews because now
they needed something as powerful as resurrection.
Mordechai devised a plan that figuratively "broke Hashem's
heart." He gathered all the children and prescribed a fast
for three days and nights. The painful cries of the toddlers
rose to Heaven and Hashem asked, What are these sheep I hear
bleating? When Hashem heard that it was the Jewish children
who were fasting because they were soon to be destroyed, the
Megilla relates, "Noddedoh shenas Hamelech" --
The King spent a sleepless night. Chazal say that
"Melech" in the Megilla refers to Hashem.
Hashem could not rest when His one and only child was signed
by Him for destruction.
On the threshold of sure death, the Jews realized that the
only important thing in life is their connection with
HaKodosh Boruch Hu, and they clung to this reality.
The Jewish people, realizing their true identity, returned to
HaKodosh Boruch Hu, and clung to Hashem with renewed
dedication. Then, all of a sudden, Hashem saw the possibility
of bringing Am Yisroel back to life. That moment was
so precious, there was such a burning love, that the Torah
tells us "LaYehudim hoysoh oroh vesimchoh vesosson
viykor." Hashem showered us with beautiful gifts of new
life, a new matan Torah, and even the building of the
Second Beis Hamikdosh, which was a result of Purim.
Hashem turned over heaven and earth, and gave Homon such a
bang that hundreds of years later its repercussions are still
felt in every shul when his name is mentioned.
To this day there is a great outpouring of unconditional love
from Hashem to his beloved Am Yisroel on Purim. The
celebration is because of life itself. We realized that our
very essence is holy and that is why we are the Amolek's
target. Our essence is holy because we are Hashem's nation,
and once we realized our essence, it caused a similar
reaction in heaven. True, we were deserving of destruction,
but in essence, we remain Hashem's beloved children no matter
how "filthy" we have become. And when Hashem's children are
threatened, no miracle is too great to save them.
After climbing the rungs of our yearly cycle of yomim
tovim, we reach Purim and reflect on the progress we made
with trepidation. What greatness have we attained after going
through Pesach, Shavuos, Yomim Noraim, Succos, and Chanukah?
There is perhaps a tinge of discouragement when we reflect,
"How are we doing?"
Purim is the ecstasy of just "being." We discover how
precious our life is, because our very existence is a
kiddush Hashem. Realizing our exalted identity is
truly a reason to get drunk with joy.
The drunkenness perhaps manifests the unconditional love
Hashem has for His people. Just as parents adore their
infant, who drools, burps, and is totally unintelligent,
because it is their special child, so too we discovered that
Hashem loves Am Yisroel the same way. As long as we
recall our identity and we identify ourselves as Hashem's
nation -- as reflected even in our Jewish names, speech, and
dress, and our dedication to a life of Torah and mitzvos --
we will always merit miraculous intervention.
The greatest joy of Purim is internalizing the fact that with
all our shortcomings and failures, we are always left with
our beautiful holy essence and connection with Hashem. The
epitome of kedusha is this wonderful day, when we
celebrate the joy of life itself, of just simply "being."