July 21, 2024
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If you were asked to rank the days in the Jewish calendar in order of importance, where would you place Purim? Probably not at the top. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah would likely come first, followed by Pesach, Sukkos and Shavuos, and only then would we include Purim and Chanukah. It is astonishing then, to read the following midrash: כל המועדים עתידים בטלים וימי הפורים אינם בטלים לעולם. In the future, all the holidays will be nullified, but the days of Purim will never be nullified.

How can we make sense of this teaching? Why is Purim, a minor chag, a mitzvah d’rabanan (rabbinic law), a day of chol (secular) lacking the seriousness of the Shalosh Regalim, to be the only one standing at the end of time? Further, aren’t the mitzvos eternal? How can the Yomim Tovim be nullified in the future?

The Divrei Hasach offers a novel interpretation. The “future” that Chazal is speaking of, is not Zman Moshiach. Instead, it refers to our own time, particularly the periods of persecution many of our grandparents experienced. As a vivid example, in the concentration camps built by the sons of Amalek, there was no Pesach Seder, no sitting in Sukkos or waving of the lulav, and surely no staying up all night commemorating Matan Torah. There was no shofar or fasting unique to Yom Kippur (their “fasting” was every day of the year). In this shadow of death, all external signs of Jewry were abolished. The Yomim Tovim were effectively all but nullified, בטלים.

Yet, one thing remained: a small but powerful spark in the Jewish spirit that gave them the strength to carry on, the will to survive and the hope for a better future. One uniquely Jewish idea passed down mi’dor l’dor, gave them a solid footing, a kiyum l’olam.

The story of Purim gifts us with an enduring lesson about Jewish survival: despite periods of overwhelming hester panim (divine hiddenness) where Hashem seems to have abandoned His people, during frightening times when evil men like Haman and Hitler, Yimach Shemam v’Zichram, ascend to the heights of power, we must remember—zachor-—that it can all be reversed, turned on its head, and be mehapech (turned around) in no more than the blink of an eye, as it says, “Yeshuas Hashem k’Heref Ayin.

When everything seems to be falling apart, the Purim message joyously lifts our spirits by reminding us—and we should never forget—that hester panim is but a disguise. At any moment, the mask can be removed, and the curtain lifted, to reveal the One who was orchestrating the show all along. And when we seem utterly helpless, we remember that Hashem is fighting our wars as His very own, “Milchama l’Hashem b’Amalek Mi’Dor Dor.” (“The Lord will be at war with Amalek throughout the ages”) (Shemos 17:16).

In the “future,” the Yomim Tovim will often be “nullified”; they may not sustain us due to the pressures of an unforgiving Galus. Yet, Purim will always be there, calling out to us with hope and joy and reminding us to remain strong for now and forever.

“These days of Purim will never leave the Jewish people and their memory will not be lost to its children” (Esther 9:28).


Donny Trenk is a practicing attorney residing in Clifton, New Jersey.

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