Rav Yonoson Eibeshitz asks the following question: In the story of Purim, there is an entire mini-story within the story, involving Mordechai; Bigsan and Seresh; the king not sleeping, having the royal diaries read to him, and rewarding Mordechai with him behing led through the city streets on the royal horse; with someone (Haman, as it turned out) leading him and calling out before him. Rav Yonoson asks, what is the point of this part of the story? The essence of the Purim story could very well have occurred without this angle: the queen invites the king and Haman to her party, and when the King asks her for her request, she says, ”Nafshi b’she’ilasi ve’ami b’vakashasi” and proceeds to accuse Haman of all that he was plotting to do. Then the King goes out to his garden. Why did that first part even happen? What was its purpose, its point?
Chazal say in Medrash Shochar Tov (a Medrash on Tehillim), quoting and explaining a posuk in chapter 22, the chapter that Esther is said to have recited upon entering Achashveirosh’s chambers, “Our forefathers have trusted in you” – this is a reference to Esther and Mordechai. “They have trusted and relied on you” – this is a reference to Esther approaching the King. In other words, Esther had to exhibit supreme bitachon in HaShem, relying on Him, as she made her way towards the King unbidden, risking her life. “They trusted and were not embarrased,” as it states, “laYehudim haysah orah v’simchah.”
Thus we see the middah of bitachon, faith and reliance on HaShem, as the catalyst of the yeshu’ah.
The Nefesh Hachaim (sha’ar 1, perek 9) writes the same about the salvation at the Yam Suf. When HaShem says to Moshe Rabbeinu, “Why are you screaming out to me? Speak to B’nei Yisroel and let them travel [into the sea],” what HaShem was saying, in effect, was that what was to happen at that point was totally dependent on their own actions. If they would travel faithfully forward, with emunah and bitachon, that in itself would cause the Yam Suf to split!
This is in consonance with what Chovos Halevavos writes at the beginning of Sha’ar Habitachon. Bitachon, besides being the obligation of a Jew, besides being an outgrowth of emunah – works! We say to HaShem, “And let us not be embarrassed, for we have relied upon you…” The degree to which a Jew truly relies upon the Ribbono shel Olam is the degree to which HaShem perfoms salvations.
Rav Avrohom, the son of the Gra, delves into the brachah of mish’an u’mivtach l’tzadikim in shemonah esrei. What is a mish’an, and what is a mivtach? These are synonyms for trust, or reliance.
He says that the modus operandi of HaShem’s salvation is to first bring a small taste of the impending yeshu’ah to the person. This is mechazek the person in his bitachon in HaShem – mish’an – and in that z’chus, the fuller yeshu’ah then comes about. This is what occurred in Mitzrayim. The miracles in Egypt allowed Bnei Yisroel to exhibit their bitachon and follow Moshe Rabbeinu into the desert, with precious few provisions, and then to actually travel towards the Egyptians when directed to by Moshe Rabbeinu. This z’chus led to the ultimate yeshu’ah at Yam Suf. So too, at the time of the Purim miracle, before Haman was hung and the Jews battled and defeated their enemies, HaShem showed them a glimmer of the yeshu’ah through Haman parading Mordechai through the streets of Shushan. This strengthened them in midas habitachon, and thus they were zocheh to the complete yeshu’ah.
And so we have our answer to the original question. The yeshu’ah on Purim coming in the merit of bitachon (as per perek 22 in Tehillim and the Medrash there) and the mahalach of that yeshu’ah being HaShem’s granting a glimpse of salvation, provide the opening for mish’an, and the ultimate salvation coming in the wake of a full-blown mivtach.
This gives new meaning to the phrases that we say and sing on Purim, as we celebrate the yeshu’as HaShem. “Lehodi’a – this (the Purim story) – shekol kovecha – all who trust in You – lo yeivhoshu – shall not be ashamed – v’lo yikalmu lanetzach – and forever shall not feel embarrassed – kol hachosim bach – all those who rely on and have bitachon in You.
Let us listen carefully to the message we are conveying as we revel in the simchah of Purim – the story, the yeshu’ah, this miracle we are celebrating, and drinking to invite complete simchah. The story of Purim teaches this lesson to all generations – lehodi’a! – that we shall extrapolate to our personal lives, to our personal needs and issues, and develop faith and reliance in HaShem, and through that be zocheh to a complete yeshu’ah!
Let us internalize this message as we make merry and revel in yeshu’as HaShem.
Ah freilichen Purim!