Purim will be celebrated eternally, even when the Messiah comes

At first glance, this seems to be a very strange observation.

Rabbi Berel Wein,

Judaism Purim Sameach from Israel!
Purim Sameach from Israel!

The book of Esther promised us that the days of Purim would not pass from the Jewish people for all of its generations. The rabbis of the Talmud even stated that all of the holidays of the Jewish year would not necessarily be celebrated in the messianic era but that the holiday of Purim would remain eternally.

At first glance, this seems to be a very strange observation. Purim ostensibly symbolizes the miraculous survival of the Jewish people throughout ages of persecution and genocide. In the messianic era such cruelties will no longer exist, for nations will not bear swords against one another nor shall they continue to teach and train for war.

In such an idyllic situation, why should we continually be reminded of past difficulties and tragedies? Even if we should recall our deliverance and salvation, recalling what we were saved from also forces us to remember the dangers that we were in and the terrible challenges that we had to face. Recalling deliverance always means recalling what we were delivered from.

As such these types of memories are at best bittersweet and at worst still frightening and damaging to our psyche. It seems obvious that the rabbis intended to remind us that even when danger is past and deliverance is constantly at hand, we should never forget what our experiences in history have been. Even in the messianic era the Jewish people will be shaped by the experience of the exile and its burdensome effect on Jewish tradition and spirit.

Many times in life it is not the destination that we reach that is as important as the journey that we took to reach it. No messianic era can be appreciated without recalling the process and story as to how it was achieved. Without such recall and memory the messianic era would be quite bland and dull.

Purim is exciting and joyous for us because of our near escape from annihilation and destruction. I remember, as I am sure many of you do as well especially if you are of my generation, the joy and relief that was experienced by the Jewish people at the successful and what was then seen as miraculous victory of Israel over mighty Arab forces in the Six-Day War of 1967.

It was the fear and trepidation, the danger of annihilation that gripped the Jewish people for the weeks before the war that made the Israeli victory so meaningful and memorable to those of us were fortunate enough to be alive at that time. The same thing will undoubtedly be true of the messianic era. People take everything for granted and rarely stop to think about the events and the consequences of our behavior.

The messianic era cannot occur in a vacuum. It is a process built upon past experience and history. It certainly cannot be placed into context and truly understood and contemplated by humanity if what led to it is ignored or unknown. Purim remains as the eternal reminder, the necessary preface to understand and appreciate deliverance and messianic blessing. Until the full arrival of the messianic era, Purim serves to remind us as to the precarious nature of the world that we live in.

During the Passover Seder night we will remind ourselves of the bitter fact that in every generation there are enemies who seek our destruction and that it is only through Divine intervention that we have survived till this day. This is a reinforcement of part of the Purim message to us.

Haman is not a one-time phenomenon and so many times in history these plans have been foiled and all of the Hamans themselves meet a bitter end. There always arises someone else to take his place and to follow his murderous policies. It is beyond my ability to explain this or to understand it, yet it is one of the clearest and most repeated facets of human history on record.

There are many reasons given both in the Jewish and general world for the persistence of anti-Semitism, the most ancient of all diseases in society. None of them are rational on their own but that has nothing to do with facts or reason. As such it is unlikely to expect that in the pre-messianic world that we live in, anti-Semitism will disappear of its own accord. But we Jews can take heart from the story of Purim that all will be well at the end and that the joy of Purim will never depart from us and our descendants.