In a few weeks, in the Hebrew month of Adar, we will celebrate the uproarious holiday of Purim when we joke about all the evils we averted at the time of the evil Haman in ancient Persia.
Then, in the month of Nisan when Passover occurs, the family observance of the seder reminds us that it is as if we ourselves were slaves with our ancestors in Egypt, and that now we are free, thanks to the saving power of God.
While we get a pretty good crowd at our Purim celebrations, it is the Passover observances for which families try their best to be together year after year. So, which holiday do you think the rabbis say will be the only holiday to be celebrated after the coming of the Messiah?
Not Passover, one of the three major festivals or chagim, but Purim, a reputedly minor holiday whose basic text, the Megillah of Esther, never mentions the name of God! Any idea why?
Here is my suggestion. Purim is the one holiday that sanctions frivolity. Not only is it fun, but it is universally loved and very nationalistic in tone. After all, for once, the Jews, on the point of extinction by the machinations of a vicious anti-Semite, were saved. A triumph over persecutors and the downfall of the archetype of anti-Semitism, Haman, is nothing to be sneezed at!
Through the observance of Purim each year, we, as a people, renewed our faith in God as the saviour. Come the Messiah, God’s redemption will be accomplished. Hence, the occurrence and celebration of being saved by God will be perpetual.
So what about Passover? Is it to be relegated to a lesser status? No! Not until the coming of the Messiah. Each year, we come together as families at home on the first night, and as a community, to celebrate the ancient redemption from slavery in Egypt, and to remind us of the importance of being God’s agent in promoting freedom throughout our world.
Until the coming of the Messianic Age, Passover will continue to be that very special week in which we may grumble about eating only matzo and no leavened food, but where we glory in the miracles God has wrought for us, which keep us alive as a people to this day.
B’Shalom, Rabbi Norman Klein.