Purim celebrates the eternity of the Jewish people. Despite exile and dispersion, genocidal enemies and those willing to turn a blind eye to such, the Jewish people are here forever. When Esther sent a letter to the Sages, “kitvuni ledorot,” write me down for the generations (Megillah 7a), she was proclaiming that the story of the Megillah is the story of the Jewish people for all time. Its inclusion in the Biblical canon, after a protracted debate no less, marks the stamp of eternity on the story, the story of survival against all odds.
One of the fiercest debates amongst Biblical commentators of the medieval period was to what extent, if at all, parts of the Torah may be seen as allegorical. No less a personage than the Rambam claimed that stories such as the three angels visiting Avraham, or Yaakov’s struggle with an angel, were prophetic visions that did not actually occur. As one can imagine, views such as these—and more radical ones, which allegorized such mitzvot as the “sign on our arm”, i.e., tefillin—met with vociferous opposition.
"Where is Haman recorded in the Torah?" So asks the Talmud (Chulin 139b), in a seemingly incomprehensible question. Surely one would not expect to find Haman, living approximately 1,000 years after the close of the Torah, to be mentioned there. The Talmud, seemingly undisturbed by the question, has no problem locating Haman in the Torah, in a verse in Parshat Breisheet: "And He said: Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten of the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?" (Breisheet 3:11).
What should one do when the needs of the Jewish people conflict with the needs of Judaism? When the only way to keep our people Jewishly involved is to bend (or perhaps break) the norms of a traditional way of life? The Jewish people have been debating this question since the Enlightenment. With the ghetto walls crumbling, most Jews sought out new ways to express their Jewishness, unwilling and perhaps unable to maintain traditional frames of reference.
"He shall surely be put to death".
"They shall be pelted with stones and thus stoned to death".
"He shall be burned with fire".
"His soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel ".
"Both shall bear their guilt and die without children".
"Have him flogged with lashes".
“When Adar enters, we increase our joy” (Taanit 29a). Presumably, the increased joy is due to the upcoming Purim festivities, the most joyous of Jewish holidays. Yet somewhat surprisingly, Rashi explains that our increased joy is due not only to the miracles of Purim, but to those of Pesach as well.
“Kol Yisrael Areivim zeh lazeh”, all Jews are guarantors for one another. While we may not always live up to this ideal, the non-Jewish world understands this principle all too well, attributing the actions of one Jew to all Jews. If Mordechai will not bow down to Haman then all Jews are to be killed. While this may be unfair it is part and parcel of the covenant G-d made with the nation of Israel.
Purim celebrates the eternity of the Jewish people. Despite exile and dispersion, genocidal enemies and those willing to turn a blind eye to such, the Jewish people are here forever. When Esther sent a letter to the Sages, “kitvuni ledorot", (Megillah 7a) write me down for the generations, she was proclaiming that the story of the Megillah is the story of the Jewish people for all time.