My apologies for the length of this Dvar Torah. I usually like to keep it short, but PURIM? So much to talk about, I think it’s worth reading the whole thing.
With every holiday and Shabbos, there is a concept of “Half for Hashem, Half for You” (with the exception of Shavous, which is a different topic). The simple explanation is that not only should you eat enjoyable foods and drink over the holiday (for you), but you should also be sure to learn Torah during those times and be involved with other mitzvos (for Hashem).
So, Rav Pincus asks, where’s the “Half for You” on Yom Kippur? All day, we are fasting and are davening! It seems that it’s “All for Hashem." He answers that Purim is the “Half for You” and Yom Kippur is the “Half for Hashem,” both being connected to one another.
There are many such connections between the two holidays, one of the famous ones being the names “Purim” and “Yom HaKIPURIM." One of the other connections is that both days are days where we receive life. On Yom Kippur, we come out of the holiday cleansed from sin. Our neshama is in pristine shape. On Purim, we, as a nation, were slated in Heaven to be wiped off. However, there is a small difference between the two in this regard. Yom Kippur comes at the end of 40 days of intense teshuva and working on oneself. As a result of our hishtadlus, our actions, to do teshuva, Hashem accepts it, and cleanses us. However, on Purim, we don’t see the same thing occurring.
Yes, the main sin that brought about our potential destruction was the fact that we happily participated in the banquet of Achashverosh. Yet, we see two interesting things occur. When Esther tells Mordecai to take off his sackcloth and put on regular clothes so he can come and plead to the King, Mordecai refuses, and instead tells Esther that she needs to go on a suicide mission to see the king herself. He is, in essence, turning down the opportunity to do proper hishtadlus and tells Esther to go on a mission doomed to fail. Then, instead of instructing everybody to do teshuva, he takes the young children, who did not sin, and directed them in davening for three days and nights. So, where’s the mass teshuva that will come to save the nation?
Purim is the time where Hashem says, “Step Aside, I’ll take care of this." Throughout the year, we work on ourselves and daven that Hashem should help us accomplish our goals in life. In general, He follows the principal that what we do below affects His reaction Above. If we learn, daven, and do mitzvos with a full heart, He responds in kind. However, on Purim, things are different. We were WRITTEN and SEALED for total annihilation. No amount of hishtadlus was going to help. There wasn’t even room for teshuva. The only thing we could possibly do was to beg Hashem to treat us with mercy and to save us, not because of any credits we might have had, but simply because He is our Father in Heaven.
On Purim, hishtadlus, doing your best to make things happen, has no place. It’s a day, where Hashem brings down bracha for those who want, not based on whether or not we deserve it, but simply because of His love for us.
When a person comes asking for tzeddakah, we do have a right, in general, to suspect whether or not the person is lying. However, on Purim, we waive that “right” and give to whoever asks. Not only is this true between man and man, but also between Man and Hashem. On Purim, we simply need to ask for help; we don’t need to “do extra” (while that is certainly a good thing to do nonetheless) to serve as merit.
Purim is not only a time that we survived physically, but also spiritually. It’s a time of taking a sealed death decree and turning it into new life.
I would like to add a personal thought that I came up with. We know that Pesach serves as the birth of the Jewish nation. Shavous serves as our Bar Mitzvah, by accepting the Torah. Perhaps Tisha B’Av is our "teenage years” (That I never learned, just an idea). Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur represent our wedding to Hashem. Sukkos is the Sheva Brachos we have after the wedding. Simchas Torah is the day we start building our lives together. Chanukah represents the time we get back together after a fight in the marriage.
So, what is Purim? I think that Purim represents the death of the nation. It’s the end of the year, hence the end of the person’s life cycle. However, our life cycle is not a circle. Rather, it’s like a strand of DNA twisting upwards. Perhaps Purim is not only the death of the person, but like Purim itself, it’s the techias hamasim (the resurrecting of the dead) of the Jewish nation. Yes, we were slated to die, but Hashem gave us new life. He saved us from Haman, and shortly after gave us the second Beis HaMikdash. Perhaps, Purim, on a nation level is our death and resurrection to begin anew. And by properly using this day, we can start anew one month later on Pesach, when we are “born again." But this time, it’s not only another Pesach like last year, it will be a Pesach on a higher level than that of last.
Have a great Purim!