Shabbat Parshat Hagadol - Metzora - 5760
Wine Connection Between Purim and Pesach
and Pesach are related in a
variety of ways, especially in that they both represent the salvation of the
Jewish People from the threat of destruction.
Another connection is that wine plays an important role in the
celebration of each.
common element in this wine connection is that in both holidays, wine is
used to create simchah, happiness, as it says in Tehilim 104,
Vyayin yesamach levav enosh, And wine gladdens the heart of
Man. But there is an important distinction in the roles that wine
plays in each of the two holidays.
connection with Purim, the Talmud says in Masechet Megillah, A person is
obligated to drink until he doesnt know the difference between Cursed
be Haman! and Blessed be Mordechai!
Sometimes, this obligation is understood (or, perhaps misunderstood)
to mean that one should drink until he cannot distinguish between Haman and
Mordechai. But not to be able
to make that distinction - between good and evil, between hero and villain,
Amalek and Yisrael - would require a person to be inebriated far beyond the
level for which ones car is confiscated nowadays, and Judaism really
doesnt care much, even on Purim, for outright drunkenness.
the requirement is more likely to be to drink enough to reach the point
where one cannot distinguish between Cursed
be Haman, the Destruction of Evil, and Blessed
be Mordechai, the enhancement of the level of Good in the World.
In each case, after all, there is a net rise in the level of Good.
So the distinction is not all that obvious!
But in either case, the obligation is to drink until one does not
know, or has forgotten something that was once known.
Pesach, there is a requirement to drink four cups of wine.
These cups correspond to the four Expressions of Redemption that the
Torah uses in Shemot 6:6-7, in its account of the Exodus, namely I took
you out, I saved you, I redeemed you, and I took you for
Myself as a People. Some add
the fifth expression, And I brought you to the Land, (Shemot 6:8) with
the correspondence being made to the Cup of Eliyahu that, although we
dont drink it, is charged with powerful symbolic meaning for us, in its
association with the Prophet Eliyahu, the Harbinger of the Mashiach.
Purim, the drinking of wine is used in conjunction with the idea of
hester panim, of hiding the face, even as G-ds Face was hidden in
the Miracle of Purim, performed from behind the scenes; it is associated
with hiding the identity, with masquerade, with confusion
and forgetting. On Pesach,
wine is used to bring into sharp
focus the different aspects and nuances of Redemption, so that we can
fulfill the commandment to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt to our
children and grand-children.
Purim, wine is drunk to help us forget the terrible experiences of the
Exile: the pogroms, the massacres, the concentration camps - the flight and
the terror. On Pesach, wine is
drunk to raise us to an exalted level, so that we can remember and identify
with the glorious experiences of our past: we re-visit our Avot, experience
the triumphant Redemption from Egypt, are present at the Revelation of
Hashem and the Receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
We experience the beauty of Jerusalem and the Temple in the time of
Shlomo, and again when the Temple is rebuilt by Ezra and Nechemiah.
We share the faith of Rabbi Akiva and the greatness of our Torah
Sages throughout the generations.
the beginning of the Seder,
we are in the state of akati avdei Achashverosh anan, We are still
slaves to Achashverosh. But
by the end of the Seder, we are resident again in rebuilt Yerushalayim, as
indeed has become the reality for
many in our generation!
the family setting of the Seder, the drinking of wine helps us recall
transcendent Sedarim of our childhood.
We are present again at the Founding of the State of Israel in our
time, and at the great victory of the Six Day War, in which the City of
Yerushalayim came once again into our hands.
And we have vividly in our minds eye the Restoration of the Temple
and the Coming of the Mashiach,
may it be soon and in our days. It
helps us blend our prayers for past, present and future generations.
To forget and to remember are both great gifts of Hashem. Forgetting enables us to come to terms with our own mortality, and that of our loved ones. And remembering helps sharpen our self-identity and our identification with Our People across all generations.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU