Purim - its laws and lessons for life
Megillat Esther is the classic work that teaches us how to see the guiding hand of
Not Missing a Word
With regard to the mitzvah of hearing the megillah, the halacha states that if a person fails to hear even one word of the megillah he has not fulfilled his obligation. This halacha holds true even if the word that he missed does not appear to make the story any less clear (see Mishna Berura 690:3 and 690:50 and Bi’ur Halacha there). This somewhat confusing halacha compels us to study it and glean the life lessons contained therein.
The second verse in Megillat Esther says: In those days when the King Achashverosh was sitting on his throne that was in Shushan. At first glance it seems as though the megillah is providing a historical fact. However, this is not so, as Chazal explain how such a small, “insignificant” statement is replete with hashgacha pratit (Divine providence). The Midrash explains that Achashverosh longed to have Shlomo Hamelech’s magnificent throne. He therefore hired artisans in Shushan to build a throne identical to the original. However, after the throne’s completion, they realized that it was too heavy to be brought to Bavel, which was the true capital of Achashverosh’s empire. Achashverosh desired this royal throne so much that he decided to change his capital from Bavel to Shushan so that he would be able to rule while seated on it (Esther Rabbah 1:12).
The Vilna Gaon points out that only by closely following the storyline we realize that
The Vilna Gaon further explains that this is the reason behind the halachah mentioned earlier. Missing even one tiny point in the megillah takes away from the ultimate goal of seeing
Reading in Order
Another halacha regarding the reading of the megillah states that one who reads the megillah out of order has not fulfilled his obligation. Similar to the above, this halacha also applies even if the change in order has no apparent bearing on the outcome of the story. What can we learn from this halacha?
The megillah says: After these events, the King Achashverosh promoted Haman, the son of Hamdata the Agagi, and lifted him, and put his seat above all the other officers that were with him (Esther 3:1).
The gemara comments: “After these events” — Rava said: “after Hakadosh Baruch Hu created the remedy before the affliction, like Reish Lakish said: Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t afflict Israel until He creates the remedy for it first.” (Tractate Megillah 13b)
The lesson learned from this is clear. In our everyday lives we may often question why certain events had to happen at times when we were seemingly least equipped to deal with them. We say things like, “If only this would have happened a week ago or in a month from now, then everything would have worked out better”. Through careful analysis of the chain of events in the megillah we learn the important lesson that everything happens only at the most opportune time with absolute precision and planning. Though at times things may seem to be anything but timely, we must remember that in