Monday, March 9, 2009
Rambam- What Does Megilas Esther Teach Us?
The Rambam tells us at the end of his halachos pertaining to Purim, "All of the books of the prophets and writings, when the Messiah comes, will become null and void except for Megilas Esther. Megilas Esther is just as important as the five books of Moshe and the Oral Torah since none of them will ever be null and void." The question here is, why does the Rambam say that the Megila is just as important as the five books of Moshe and the Oral Torah? What is the Rambam telling us about Megilas Esther?
To explain this ponderous statement in the Rambam we can bring the Gemorah in Nedarim (21B) that says, "If the Jews never sinned then there would only be the five books of Moshe and the book of Joshua because it tells us how to divide up the land of Israel." It seems like the rest of the books of the prophets and the writings come to teach us about repentance and that this message will no longer be necessary in the times of the Messiah. Still, this only tells us what the message of Megilas Esther is not, but what is the message?
The Maharal in his book on Purim (Or Chadash) tells us a unique idea behind the story of Purim. He says that the pasuk in the Megila of "The Jews undertook upon themselves" (kimu vikiblu) comes to teach us that the Jews reaccepted the Torah that they had originally received on Mt. Sinai. Therefore, the significance of Purim connects to the significance of the accepting of the Torah. It is as if the Jews began accepting the Torah and its commandments on Mt. Sinai and completed their acceptance during the story of Purim. This is why Megilas Esther will never be nullified just like the Torah, but the other books, the prophets and writings, will be. However, why would the Jews have to re-receive the Torah, what was wrong with how they accepted it at Mt. Sinai?
The Maharal answers this question up very nicely. He says that during the original acceptance of the Torah G-D forced the Jews to accept the Torah out of fear. This is because, the Maharal says, according to the Midrashing, that G-D was holding the mountain above them saying that if the Jews did not accept the Torah then He would drop the mountain on them. Therefore, the Jews did not make a complete acceptance of the Torah at Mt. Sinai since they only had an acceptance of fear. However, the only way to have a true acceptance of Torah is to receive it through fear and love. This is where Purim comes in, during Purim the Jews reaccepted the Torah through love of G-D.
This is why Rambam says that Megilas Esther will never be nullified, because it is part of the original acceptance of the Torah. Rambam believes the Oral Torah, along with the two parts of the written Torah, is the full acceptance of the Torah. These are the three aspects of the Torah that will always be eternal and this is why the written Torah, Oral Torah and Megilas Esther will forever be an important part of Judaism even after the Messiah comes, but the rest of the prophets and writings will be void. The other prophets and writings come to teach us about repentance and avoidance of sin, but when the Messiah comes these messages will no longer be applicable. However, the Torah and its ideas will forever be important to the Jewish people.