Passover on Purim

The shulchan oruch (Jewish rule book) says that we should start studying about Passover 30 days before the holiday.  If you count the days on a calendar, you'll find that 30 days before Passover is Purim day.  

Why would the rabbis tell us to study about Passover in the middle of the Purim celebration?   

Here's a possible answer:  

In a way, Pesach is the completion of the Purim holiday.  It's kind of like life.  I know that I'm a good guy, at least 98 or 99%.  There's that one or two percent though, that haunts me.  My blind spot is that weak point to bring me down and ruin the most important things in my life.  

For some people it is an addiction, depression, money habits, victim-hood, lack of empathy, narcissism or a million other things.  They almost always jeopardize or ruin the relationships that are most important to us.  This is called a personal exile or Egypt (מצרים).  I know what mine is.  Do you know yours?  

The purpose of life is to shake these limitations and live life the way G-d intended it to be.  G-d made us imperfect and wants us to create the perfection we know is possible.  This is the work that brings moshiach.

You can go through decades of your life without being aware of your "personal exile", but when it hits, it's devastating.  It feels like your entire life is falling apart and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.  

Imagine an addict who comes to the realization, "Oh boy, I'm ruining my life,"  or someone with major spending habit issues who finally realizes, "I've really got a problem."  

That wake-up moment doesn't really solve any problems.  The addict is still an addict, and the debt is still debt.  The marriage is still on the verge of collapse and it will take years to fix.

Pesach is the holiday celebrating the finish line, after all the years of hard work and help from above.  It is the holiday celebrating the Exodus from Egypt and our personal liberation from our individual golus (exile).  It is the point where someone can say, I had the problem and I beat it!  I'm now a healthy person, and my marriage is healthy too, together with my spending habits and everything else in my life.  At some point, very soon, the whole world will beat the human condition, and Moshiach will come.

Purim, on the other hand,  is an "exile holiday", celebrating the wake up moment.  You still might be in the middle of your problems but Purim is a reminder that G-d is with you even before you beat your personal exile.

Everything about the holiday expresses this: G-d's name is not mentioned even once in the Megillah, and if you look at the story, there isn't any one miracle that you can put your finger on.  We don't say Hallel, the songs of praise which we say on all celebratory holidays.  Even the names "Esther" and "Purim" are Persian, not Hebrew, and the Talmud teaches the the biblical source of Purim and Esther are from the words ואנכי הסתיר אסתיר ביום ההוא-  "and I will surely hide from you on that day."  Is that the best source we can find for Purim, that G-d will hide from us?  Even at the end of the story, we didn't go back to Jerusalem and build our Temple.  We were still in exile.

This might explain why we are told to study about Pesach on Purim day.  While we are busy celebrating G-d's involvement even in the darkest part of our lives, before beating exile, we are reminded to study about Pesach, reminding us that some day, very soon, G-d will lift us out of our golus and take us back to Jerusalem!

At the same time, the Talmud teaches that when Moshiach comes, all holidays will be obsolete as they will pale in comparison to the experience of Moshiach, except for Purim.  It makes sense, too.

When the addict finally reaches the finish line and reconstructs their life to be a normal, healthy one, the day they'll likely want to celebrate is not the completion (Pesach) but the day they first woke up (Purim). 

May Hashem bless us all to wake up (Purim) and the beat our personal exile (Pesach).

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Abrams


Popular posts from this blog

America is Falling Apart, But It's OK

CPR Lesson from Snuffed Candle

Poem about Torah