Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Esther's Purim Role VS. the High Priest on Yom Kippur
Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 10:43:57 AM
Number of views: 2519

Purim comes from the word "Pur", meaning lottery in Persian. This name comes from Megillat Esther: "...therefore, they called these days Purim, because of the lottery." The method in which Purim was given this name is different from the methods used in giving names to the other holidays. The names of all other holidays incorporate, in some respect, the miracle which took place on that holiday. For example, Passover gets its name because G-d passed over the Jewish first-born when he slew the first-born Egyptians, even though the Jewish first-born were also idol worshippers.  On Purim, the entire nation, not just the first-born, was saved from extermination, yet this miraculous event finds no direct expression in the name "Purim". Why not? And why call this holiday "Lottery", just because Haman cast lots when to kill the Jews?

A clear manifest indication of Israel 's redemption and salvation was not given to the holiday Purim, since the salvation occurred by means of hidden miracles, shrouded by the course of natural events. The miracles only surface when one reads carefully from the Scroll of Esther about the events which transpired. Megillat Esther means to reveal and uncover - 'Megillah' the 'Hester'...The hidden miracles and mysteries of Purim. That's why we wear masks on Purim, to demonstrate that things are not always as they appear to be. That's also why God's name does not appear at all in the entire Megillah.

Our goal is to reveal G-d to the world, even when it appears that He is not present. Our purpose as Jews is to unmask G-d and to reveal Him in our daily affairs. That's what Purim is truly about, and why it is such an important holiday. In fact, according to Zohar, Purim is even greater than Yom Kippur. The Day of Atonement is called by the Torah "Yom Kippurim", a day similar to Purim in holiness. How can this be? And the Zohar goes on to point out striking similarities between Esther's approach to Achashverosh and the High Priest's service in the Holy Temple on Yom Kippur: The fasting Queen Esther dressed in special royal garments, entering the King's forbidden inner chamber at the risk to her life, to plead for the Jewish People's salvation. In parallel, the fasting High Priest on Yom Kippur, also dressed in special white garments, entering the forbidden inner sanctum of the Holy Temple at the risk of a heavanly death penalty, to plead for the Jewish People's Attonement. What is this incredible similarity between Purim and Yom Kippur?

The holy Ari explains that on Yom Kippur, we subjugate and neutralize our physical and material desires by fasting and praying all day, in order to reach the level of the angels. On Purim, we raise and sanctify our physical desires instead of denying and negating them, and in this respect, we are even higher than angels.

Man is made up of two opposite components, body and soul. On Yom Kippur, we praise G-d with our souls, by denying our bodies, but on Purim, we praise G-d by indulging our bodies, which is infinitely more difficult.

Thus Purim, if utilized properly, can be greater than "Yom KePurim". The lesson of Purim is that although life appears to be similar to a lottery - a "Purim" where events seem to happen by chance, that is only an illusion, a mask. Our mission in life is to unmask the "Purim" and to reveal G-d to the world and demonstrate that all events that happen are directly controlled by G-d. That's why the word for coincidence in Hebrew is מקרה, (Mem Koof Reish Heh), which re-arranged spells רק מה' (Reish Koof Me Hashem) - only from G-d!

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