Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Purim and Pesach

It is said (Shemos 17:16) vayomer ki yad al keis kah milchama laHaShem baAmalek midor dor, and he said, “For the hand is on the throne of G-d: Hashem maintains a war against Amalek, from generation to generation.” The Medrash (Tanchumah Ki Seitzei 11) states that HaShem said that His Name and His Throne will not be complete until the eradication of Amalek occurs. It is fascinating to note that the Gemara (Taanis 29a) states that mishenichnas Adar marbim bisimcha, when the month of Adar begins, we increase our joy. Rashi writes regarding this: yimey nissim hayu liYisroel Purim uPesach, days of miracles for the Jewish People, Purim and Pesach.

The simple explanation of Rashi’s commentary is that we begin our joy in Adar with the festival of Purim and that joy continues into the Month of Nissan with the celebration of Pesach. Perhaps we can suggest an alternative interpretation to the words of Rashi based on the above-mentioned Medrash. We commence the Hagadah shel Pesach with Kadesh urchatz, and we enumerate the fifteen steps that will be performed throughout the Seder. The Medrash (See Gemara Megillah 15a and Rashi Ibid s.v. Yom Tov Rishon shel Pesach; Esther Rabbah 8:7, Magen Avraham Orach Chaim 490) states that Haman was hung on the first days of Pesach.

The Medrash mentioned previously states that HaShem’s Name and Throne will not be complete until the nation of Amalek is obliterated. Although it would appear that this will not occur until the time of the ultimate Redemption, the month of Nissan and the festival of Pesach certainly qualify as a propitious time for our redemption. This idea is based on the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 11a) that states: biNissan nigalu biNissan asidin ligaeil, in the month of Nissan we were redeemed and in the month of the Nissan we will be redeemed in the future. Thus, according to Rashi, the redemption commenced with the hanging of Haman, which we celebrate on Purim in Adar, and the joy continues into Nissan as the actual hanging of Haman occurred on Pesach. Haman was a direct descendant of Amalek, so it is fitting that we commence the Seder with the fifteen steps. The Name of HaShem, kah, is in gematria, numerical value, 15. When we celebrate Pesach and Haman’s downfall, we are striving to perfect HaShem’s Name and Throne by adding 15 to HaShem’s Name of kah.

It is further noteworthy that the Mishna (Avos 6:6) states that kingship is acquired with thirty attributes. Thus, the Name kah and the fifteen steps of the Pesach Seder combine to the number 30, a sign that in the month of Nissan we will merit the ultimate redemption and the fulfillment of the verse that states (Ovadiah 1:21) Vialu moshiim bihar Tziyon lishpot es har Esav vihaysah LaHaShem hamelucha, and saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esav, and the kingdom will be HaShem’s.

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