Reading Between The (Head)Lines

There is a fascinating Rambam (Hilchos Megillah 2:18) that states that in the days of Moshiach all of the sifrei Nevi’im will be abnegated except for one. Only Megillas Esther will continue to exist. The question is, how can Megillas Esther be compared with the Chumash and the Torah Sheb’al Peh, which are eternal?

The Rambam continues to explain that the memory of all the other trials and tribulations of the Jewish people will all be forgotten. But the days of Purim will never leave the Jewish people. What is it about Purim and the tzaros and redemption at that time, which allows it to be studied and celebrated even when the other sefarim and redemptions will be forgotten?

Many years ago, I heard a fascinating explanation in the name of Harav Yitzchok Hutner, zt”l. He starts with a mashal.

There once was a blackout. All electricity was out. All power lines had shorted and the city was in total darkness.

Two homeowners in the city had very different experiences.

There was one (I guess he was shomer Shabbos) who had a large supply of candles. He felt his way to the closet in which he stored his candles and, with a conveniently placed match, managed to light one of the candles. He was able to place a candle in each room in his house and identify people as they walked in and out. It wasn’t the greatest light, but under the circumstances, it would work.

The second homeowner wasn’t quite as lucky. He didn’t have any candles or flashlights to shine even minimum light in his house. He sat in darkness. When someone entered his home, he had to figure out from the voice or sometimes even from the footsteps who had entered. Sitting in the darkness though, he became proficient in identifying sounds.

When morning arrived, the sun shone bright. The homeowner who had lit the candles blew them out, for when you have the sun you don’t need candles. He had not learned any new skill from the experience. The one who was less fortunate, though, had actually gained a new skill during the night. He had gained an ability to discern people and things based upon his sense of hearing.

Rav Hutner continues: The Geulah of the future, when we will be brought together from the four corners of the Earth, will be far greater in magnitude than the Geulah of Mitzrayim. When on Pesach we want to celebrate a Geulah, Yetzias Mitzrayim will be like a candle when compared to the bright sun of yemos haMoshiach. When we want to recognize Hakadosh Baruch Hu protecting us, the ananei hakavod of the midbar will be dwarfed by the protection that Hakadosh Baruch Hu will provide for us at the time of Gog Umagog. The hisgalus Elokus of l’asid lavo will be greater than at Har Sinai.

There is one skill we learned in the darkness that even bias haMoshiach will not be able to supersede. That is what we learned at the time of Purim — that we can hear Hakadosh Baruch Hu even when it seems that He has forsaken us.

I sometimes wonder, though; did we really learn that skill? When we read the newspapers, do we take seriously the headlines, the analysis and the commentaries?

Can you imagine the fictional Shushan Times and how they would have reported the intrigue which ended with the death of Vashti? Was it a misunderstanding or a rebellion? Was it a battle about women’s lib or just Vashti politically posturing — claiming that the crown really belonged to her?

How about the competition to be the first to interview the new Queen Esther? The investigative reporters were trying to find out her true heritage. She wasn’t giving interviews, but Haman was. He proudly was claiming the position of number two in the country. A full feature story would no doubt have been dedicated to his predictions of how this powerful country would be run.

Do you think there would have been any articles defending the underdog Jews who were slated to be destroyed? More likely there would have been articles by Haman and his advisors as to why the Jews were destructive elements in the country. How about the Mordechai-Haman debates? Those who sided with the powerful Haman against those who supported the Jew who had saved the king’s life? Everybody had their interpretation of what was happening and their opinion as to how it would end.

One thing is certain. Nobody, except possibly Mordechai, would have written that this was a punishment for the Jews having gone to Achashverosh’s party. Nobody even thought that Hakadosh Baruch Hu was preparing the refuah before the makkah, when Esther was chosen as the Queen. Nobody was writing that Hakadosh Baruch Hu was connecting all the dots to prepare the victory of Purim that the Jewish people will celebrate even in the times of yemos haMoshiach.

In short, nobody but Hakadosh Baruch Hu knew what was really happening. And everybody acted as if he knew. With hindsight, we know that people thought that everything was a joke and had no relationship to what was really going on.

Does it sound familiar? Do we still open the newspaper today and think that anybody has any idea about what is really going on? When, for instance, the Prime Minister of Israel is invited to speak in the United States Congress and the President of the United States objects, how many gallons of ink are used to discuss what this really means? The exceptions are the Mordechais of today and they are saying that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is talking to us and urging us to prepare for big things that will be happening, hopefully soon.

Purim was a test for our national emunah — our resolve and trust in Hashem. We must use it as opportunity to realize that everything that we are experiencing is orchestrated by Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Let us learn to listen in the darkness.


 

The author can be reached at rabbisbloom@gmail.com