Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Purim 5631 First Ma'amar
The Essence of Purim
Why the Holiday is Called Purim/Lots
“עַל־כֵּן קָרְאוּ לַיָּמִים הָאֵלֶּה פוּרִים עַל־שֵׁם הַפּוּר .../Therefore these days were called Purim/Lots because of the lot…” (Esther 9:26) The name of a holiday usually indicates something very significant about and central to the essence of the day. It seems strange, therefore, that this holiday is called Purim/Lots commemorating the lots that Haman cast to determine the day on which to execute his dastardly plan. How are Haman’s lots central to the essence of Purim?
Thinking about the name of the holiday, another question presents itself. Why is the name of the holiday plural? If it commemorates Haman’s lots, it should be the singular, “Pur/Lot” as the pasuk states, “... הִפִּיל פּוּר .../… He cast a lot …” (Esther 3:7) Why is it, “Purim/Lots”?
The Sfas Emes explains that Haman’s lot relate both to Haman and to us. The lot of the Persians was to destroy the Jews. However, since the Jews are eternal and cannot be destroyed, our lot was that the Persian decree should be overturned. Of course, to merit God’s salvation, we needed to pray and supplicate. Their lot, in effect, caused our lot. The paytan/liturgical poet hints at this in the piyut/liturgical poem Asher Heini that we say after we read the Megillah. “פּוּר הָמָן נֶהְפַּךְ לְפוּרֵינוּ/Haman’s lot turned into our lot.”
Drawing lots gives completely random results. There is nothing more natural than this. The fact that we were saved, that the result of Haman’s lot did not come to fruition, indicates that the events that transpired were in fact miracles God rendered to save us. Haman’s lot could only have become our lot through Divine intervention. Therefore, the name of the holiday Purim/Lots is directly related to the essence of the day – God’s hand in our salvation.