Sing a Song of Seder

The link between Purim and Pesach.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

One of our favorite trivia questions is about the Jewish inmate in prison who is allowed to choose any one day of
We hold Purim as close as possible to the month of Nissan.
the year on which he can perform mitzvot. What day does he choose?

Simple: Today! Because you cannot pass up the chance to do a mitzvah, you must do it as soon as it becomes available.

Makes sense, but there is an exception to this rule. We are told that in a leap year of two months of Adar, we "pass over" the first Adar and celebrate Purim only in Adar II. The reason given by chazal is that we hold Purim as close as possible to the month of Nissan in order to "connect" the geulah of Purim to the geulah of Pesach.

This idea requires explanation. Purim is its own, self-contained episode in Jewish history. As momentous as it was, what link does it have to the events of Pesach?

I suggest the following. Purim has the theme v'nahafoch hu - everything was topsy-turvy; nothing was as it should have been. The Jewish community assimilated into Persian society. Invited to Achashverosh's big bash, they ate and drank unabashedly. There was machloket: some Jews listened to Mordechai, but many did not. The Jews grappled with a brutal enemy, but even when he was defeated, we remained subservient to a foreign king.

The end of the Purim story tries to reverse things. We come together as one to pray and fight Haman; we fast to atone for what we had eaten; we hold our own wine-fest on Purim afternoon, reaching out to our fellow Jew.

But Purim's celebration is limited: we still had to form an army to fight our enemies; Esther remained in a prohibited marriage; and the Jews remained subservient to a foreign king.

Pesach represents the real counter-image of Purim. Here we hold a lavish celebration commemorating our independence, complete with multi-cups of wine. We welcome in our Jewish neighbors and family to toast our miraculous, Divinely-sent victory over not only Pharoah, but over every anti-Semite who "comes along in each generation to destroy us." We recall how we banded together in common purpose, language and dress to accentuate our uniquely Jewish persona.
Pesach represents the real counter-image of Purim.

This world, says the Gemara, is an olam hafuch, an upside-down version of reality. Though in truth Am Yisrael is the most praiseworthy of nations, we are constantly indicted as "illegal" by a hypocritical world. Our holy army is the most moral in the world, our cause the most just and righteous, and yet we are branded as the aggressor and the criminal. When it comes to the Jewish People, the victim is made into the victimizer, black is white, and reality is turned on its head.

Pesach comes to make seder ("order"). To remind us unequivocally that we are the beloved b'chor of HaShem, a free and noble people with a Torah to guide us and a G-d-given land to nurture us. Pesach's promise is that we shall outlast our detractors, inherit Jerusalem and welcome Moshiach.

Pesach writes the songs and rights the wrongs.