Purim 08

This weekend we celebrate the festive day of Purim, as Jews throughout the world read the Megilla of Esther, and enjoy the festive Purim meal. What is the meaning of this holiday? Why do we celebrate in such a festive manner? Why don’t we have a similar type of party on the Torah Holidays of Passover and Succos? Shouldn’t they have as much rejoicing as Purim which is only a Rabbinical Holiday?

Rav Yitzchak Hutner, the late Rosh Yeshiva of Chaim Berlin explained that there are two different types of joy: When a person is saved from danger, or rescued from a difficult situation, they certainly have feelings of happiness. The greater the danger that they were in, the greater the feelings of joy that they have.

If someone had an incident of depression, on the other hand, then the celebration that they have will not just be a way that they mark the salvation that they had. The more they are able to lift themselves and to rejoice, the more they will get out of their depression.

When Amalek affected the Jewish people, the word the Torah uses to describe the incident is karahu. Literally, this means that Amalek met us. The Sages, however, tell us that the root of this word – Kar (cold) - indicates that Amalek had managed to “cool us off”. This means that Amalek had managed to inject into the Jewish people a loss of warmth for the Torah and Mitzvos that they had. Having just experienced the Exodus, getting read to experience the revelation at Mount Sinai, the Jews were certainly very conscious of their relationship with Hashem. They certainly felt a warmth, excitement, and a vibrancy in it. When Amalek came and fought with the Jews, they were giving a very definitive message: Your relationship with Hashem does not make you special. This inserted a coldness into the relationship that the Jews had with Hashem.

When we celebrate Purim, the joy we feel is not just because we were saved. We are actually correcting the damage inflicted by Amalek and Ahasveros. The more we rejoice, the more excitement we feel, the greater we have rectified our relationship with Hashem. This is the essence of the joy we have on Purim – feeling how special it is to be able to do mitzvohs and to connect to the Almighty. The more we feel this joy, the more we celebrate, the more have have established our relationship with Hashem.