Post-Purim is not too late to talk about Purim! First of all, the posuk says, “And the month which was transformed for them from sorrow to joy and from mourning to a yom tov.” So we have the whole month! And indeed, the statement, “From when Adar arrives, marbin b’simchah” refers to the entire month of Adar. Then, again, Rashi (Ta’anis 29A) explains that very statement, “[Because] they are days of miracles, Purim and Pesach.” We see that Rashi connects Purim and Pesach, thus giving us quite a bit of time to talk about, and understand, what it is we have just celebrated.
The phrase “Es kol asher karahu―the events which happened to him” appears twice in Megillas Esther. Yet the events it describes stand at opposite poles in terms of the story. One event is Mordechai describing to Esther the events leading up to Haman’s decree. The other is Haman’s describing to Zeresh the events leading up to him parading Mordechai around Shushan with great honor, announcing and calling out that Mordechai is a man worthy of such prestige. Surely it is not a coincidence that the exact same phrase appears at such diametrically opposed points of the story. And what are we to make of the use of the word “karahu”? The root of this word is “mikreh,” which is usually taken to mean an event which occurred “on its own,” without direction or intention on anyone’s part.
“Al ken karu layamim ha’eilu Purim, al shem hapur—therefore we call these days Purim, in commemoration of the lots [which Haman drew].” As we all know, the name of something represents its true essence. Is the drawing of lots so significant that this name is given to the yom tov on which we celebrate the salvation of the entire Jewish Nation?!
And we say in the piyut following kri’as Megillah, “ki pur Haman nehepach l’pureinu—for the lot which Haman drew [and thus determined the propitious day for the carrying out of his evil plans] has changed and has become our lot,” meaning that Haman’s “good luck” has become our own good fortune. Luck? Good fortune? Yet that is what the name implies!
We kid ourselves every day. We think, act, and react to events as if we are the ones making things and events happen. We live our lives as if we are in control of what happens to us through our energies and efforts to bring it about. We get angry at people because we perceive them to be the source of the developments of our lives. We pay lip service to our belief in Hashem’s omnipotence, yet we go about our business bowing to the god of what we (piously) call hishtadlus, as if that is the magic wand which justifies the frantic pace of our involvement in every aspect of our connection to olom hazeh: our successes, our failures, our achievements, our failings, our ascents, our plunges.
Yet, in truth, it is all an illusion. Yes, Hashem wants us to go through the motions which would seem to be bringing things about. That, and nothing else, is what hishtadlus means—going through the illusory motions. They are illusory in the sense that they are not truly the cause of the events of our lives. Our Sages tell us, “Hakol b’y’dei Shamayim, chutz m’yiras shamayim—all is decreed and is happening at G-d’s behest only, except for our free-will choices.” We choose between doing good and doing evil. But the actual happenings, results, and materializations—why, they might as well be a mikreh, a random event, in terms of our actually bringing it about.
Purim—lots! A lottery, a goral, a coincidence, good luck! What could be more random, what can more obviously shed the delusion, the misconception, the fantasy of bringing about the mikrim (plural of mikreh) of our lives than a goral, a lottery? “Es kol asher karahu”—certainly! From the perspective of human endeavor, it’s all a mikreh! It’s all a goral! It’s not Haman, It’s not Achashveirosh, it’s not Esther! As the Chinuch states in explaining the rationale of the prohibition against taking revenge, “That a person shall know and internalize that all that occurs to him, whether good or evil, is a decree which Hashem has decreed upon him, and no person can affect you or your life one iota unless it is so decreed by Hashem. And thus if your fellow harms you or otherwise causes you pain, realize that it is a decree from Hashem unto you. Your sins have brought about this result. And so do not consider taking revenge, because the true cause is you yourself and your actions…”
It’s not your human endeavors which are the cause, rabbosai and ladies; it is all decreed from Heaven, based on your free-will choices of good and/or evil.
It’s all a pur… We see the political machinations of a Haman and a Mordechai. Look beyond and see what’s really happening.
And this introduces us to the chag which is the source of our belief system: Chag Hapesach.