ישיבת כרם ביבנה

A Megillah of Concealment

הרב מרדכי גרינברג
נשיא הישיבה

The Rambam concludes Hil. Megillah (2:18) as follows:

All the books of the Prophets and all of the Writings will become void in the days of Mashiach, except for Megillat Esther ... as it says, "These days of Purim should never cease among the Jews." (Esther 9:28)

Midrash Mishlei also states that all of the holidays will become void, but the days of Purim will never become void. This idea is extremely puzzling. Why should it be that all of the holidays, which are ordained by the Torah, should become void, and specifically Purim, which is only of Rabbinic origin, should remain forever?!

Furthermore, Chazal comment (Chulin 139b): Where is there a reference to Esther in the Torah? It says, "Ve'anochi haster astir paniy bayom hahu - I will surely have concealed My face on that day." (Devarim 31:18) On a superficial level, this allusion to Purim is based on a word play of "Esther" -- "astir" (I will conceal). However, it is clear that Chazal meant something much deeper, which stands at the very essence of the Megillah and of the holiday of Purim.

We clearly recognize the Divine revelation expressed in overt miracles, as the Torah writes regarding Yetziat Mitzrayim, "So that you will know that I am Hashem in the midst of the land." (Shemot 8:18) The Ramban comments at the end of Parshat Bo (Shemot 13:16) that for this reason it is important that we transmit that which we saw to subsequent generations, since G-d will not continue to perform miracles in every generation to refute the disbelievers. However, the Ramban emphasizes that the goal of overt miracles goes far beyond this. The ultimate goal is so that:

From the overt and famous miracles, a person will acknowledge the hidden miracles, which are the basis of the entire Torah. For a person has no share in the Torah of Moshe Rabeinu unless he believes that all of our events and happenings -- whether on a communal or individual level -- are miracles, not just nature and the way of the world.

The nations of the world also believe in the existence of G-d, but they think that it is not befitting His honor to look after the lower realms. The Malbim explains in this way the pasuk, "Hashem is great in Zion and is exalted above all people." (Tehillim 99:2) The difference between "great" and "exalted" is that "great" extends from the bottom upwards, whereas "exalted" expresses something lofty that is found in the heavens and is detached from the lower worlds. The Jewish concept of G-d is that there is no difference for Him between below and above, "Hashem is great in Zion." However, according to the nations he is found only above, and, therefore, "He is exalted above all people."

The notion that there is no Divine involvement in this world is represented by Amalek, and therefore the expression of "happened" is found repeatedly regarding him. The Torah writes about the battle of Amalek, "that he happened upon you." (Devarim 25:18) Chazal comment on the pasuk, "Mordechai told [Hatach] all that had happened to him" (Esther 4:7), that Mordechai said, "Go and tell her: The descendent of 'it happened' came upon you." (Esther Rabbah 8:5) Amalek succeeded in planting this doubt in the mind of Yisrael as well. Therefore, adjacent to the pasuk, "Amalek came and battled Yisrael in Rephidim," it says, "and because of their test of Hashem saying, 'Is Hashem among us or not?'"(Shemot 17:7-8) Those who deal with the allusions of the Torah point out that Amalek in gematriya is 240, as is "ram" (exalted) and "safek" (doubt).

Megillat Esther comes to remove the veil from the natural world, and to show how Divine Providence works within the secrets of nature. For this reason the name of Hashem does not appear explicitly in the Megillah, but Chazal state that every mention of "king" refers [indirectly] to the King of the Universe, as it says, "The heart of a king is in the hand of Hashem." (Mishlei 21:1) Therefore, the Megillah is alluded to in the pasuk, "I will surely have concealed My face on that day," since this pasuk says that even in a situation of great Divine concealment, there still exists a possibility to reveal the Divine Name.

Rav Hutner zt"l provides a parable of two people who are walking in the dark. One is holding a candle in his hand, and in this manner sees his way. The other person has no candle, and is forced to learn and to get used to finding his way even in the dark by sharpening his senses. In the morning, the first one extinguishes his candle, and it would seem that now both are equal. Not so! The second person actually gained, since he acquired for himself a new ability and is no longer afraid of the dark.

It says "anochi" ("I") twice in the Torah in reference to G-d. The first is in the Ten Commandments, "I am Hashem your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt" (Shemot 20:2), which highlights the miraculous manner of Divine revelation through Yetziat Mitzrayim. The second time is in the aforementioned pasuk, "I will surely have concealed My face on that day," which highlights the concealed manner of Divine revelation. The overt miracles are points of lights that illuminate the darkness, and in the future there will no longer be any need for them, since everything will be light. Because of this, the other holidays, which commemorate G-d's overt miracles, will become void. However, whoever learns to recognize the "anochi" through concealment, as on Purim, acquires for himself a new ability, to recognize the Divine revelation inherent in the world. This idea will remain forever, and therefore, Purim will never become void even in the days of Mashiach: "These days of Purim should never cease among the Jews."

 

 

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