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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Connecting Purim and Pesah

The following is something I wrote off the blog last year at this time. Let me know your thoughts on it.

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The גמרא in מגילה1 brings down an argument between two opinions regarding a leap year of two Adars - whether פורים should fall out on אדר א or אדר ב. The first opinion holds that it should fall out on אדר א due to a universal halachic concept of אין מעבירין על המצוות - we never pass up on a מצוה – so the first possible time to celebrate פורים is on אדר א. The second opinion holds that it should fall out on אדר ב. This latter opinion concedes that אין מעבירין על המצוות is important, and would have applied here, except that in this case, we have a special rule that supercedes אין מעבירין על המצוות. That rule is that we want to be מסמך גאולה לגאולה – we want to make the redemption that happened on פורים and the redemption that occurred on פסח as juxtaposed as possible. We therefore place פורים on אדר ב which would make it only 30 days away from פסח, as opposed to 60.

The question that bothers me is “Why?” Why must we put these two holidays as close as possible? What’s the connection between the two holidays that forces us to do away with such a universal halachic concept of אין מעבירין על המצוות?

When one starts to think about it, however, there are numerous connections between the holidays of פורים and פסח:
  • Both involved evil rulers who wanted to destroy us (פרעה wished to destroy us by killing the males, while המן wanted to kill every single Jew).

  • Both included great miracles of Hashem to save us (although פורים was a hidden miracle, while פסח was an open one).

  • Both holidays have the aspect of drinking wine (פורים to symbolize how the miracle happened through wine, while פסח’s 4 cups show freedom based on the 4 expressions of redemption).

  • Both holidays have a special צדקה associated with the holiday – which we don’t find with any other holiday (מתנות לאביונים on פורים, and קמחא דפסחא a.k.a. מעות חטים for פסח).

  • The first battle the Israelites fought after יציאת מצרים was against עמלק, at which time Hashem told us of our multi-generation battle against עמלק. The wiping out of עמלק, the ancestor of המן, is a central theme of the פורים story.

  • 50 days after יציאת מצרים, we received the תורה at Mt. Sinai. It was the Jewish people’s acceptance of the תורה out of fear. During the פורים story as well, we accepted the תורה a second time – this time out of love of Hashem’s miracle2.

  • In the year following יציאת מצרים, we built a משכן. Shortly after the פורים miracle, the 2nd בית המקדש was built.

  • Much of the פורים story actually took place on פסח.


OK. All this is nice and good, but it still doesn’t answer why the redemptions must be placed close to each other, and forego the halachic concept of אין מעבירין על המצוות.

Perhaps we can go in a different direction. In the הגדה, we bring down an argument between ר’ אלעזר בן עזריה and the חכמים regarding what is learned from the word “כל” in the verse3 “למען תזכר את יום צאתך מארץ מצרים כל ימי חייך” – in order that you will remember the day of your exodus from the land of Egypt – all the days of your life. The former learns (based on בן זומא’s expounding of the verse) that it tells us to recite יציאת מצרים even at night, while the latter hold that it teaches us that we will be reciting יציאת מצרים even during Messianic times. One may ask: if the future redemption will overshadow יציאת מצרים, why would the חכמים tell us to talk about יציאת מצרים even in Messianic times?

The answer must be because without יציאת מצרים, we would not have merited a future redemption. We would have been lost in the 50th level of impurity, from where it would have been impossible to emerge, were it not for יציאת מצרים. Hashem said4 “כה אמר ה’ זכרתי לך חסד נעוריך לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה” – So said Hashem: I remember the kindness of your youth – your going after Me in the desert in an unsowed land. We will merit a future redemption in part because of יציאת מצרים.

We also know that the future redemption from our current exile will mimic יציאת מצרים in its miraculous stature. This is learned from the verse5 “כימי צאתך מארץ מצרים אראנו נפלאות” – like the days of your exodus from the land of Egypt, I will show him wonders. This tells us that the future redemption will have all the markings of the redemption from מצרים. Everything we know about יציאת מצרים will repeat itself in our future redemption.

The ירושלמי6 tells us that פורים is the only holiday that will remain with us during Messianic times, based on the verse7 “וזכרם לא יסוף מזרעם” – and their remembrance will never stop from their children. Perhaps a reason for this is that, as we mentioned earlier, a central theme of פורים is wiping out עמלק, which the 8רמב”ם says is a prerequisite for the rebuilding of the בית המקדש.

We therefore want the גאולה of פורים, with its concept of destroying עמלק, to be put as close as possible to the גאולה of פסח, which is the parent גאולה of our future redemption. Why must it be so juxtaposed? We are trying to show Hashem that we just got finished destroying עמלק during פורים, and we are now ready to welcome the משיח and rebuild the בית המקדש for our current גאולה. It must be done as soon as possible. We can’t wait any longer. This is also why we learn about the laws of פסח 30 days before פסח – which falls out on פורים! We want to show that we are ready for the coming of משיח, symbolized by the laws of פסח – its parent גאולה – since we just destroyed עמלק. This connection is so important that it even supercedes the concept of אין מעבירין על המצוות.

May it be Hashem’s will that we will merit the destroying of עמלק and the coming of משיח which should come במהרה בימינו אמן.




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1) 6b
2) בבלי שבת פח. ע”פ פירש”י שם
3) דברים טז:ג
4) ירמי’ ב:ב
5) מיכה ז:טו
6) מגילה פ”א ה”ה
7) אסתר ט:כח
8) הל’ מלכים פ”א ה”ב

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