Once the Baal Shem Tov had a spiritual vision of a calamity that was to be visited on an outlying Jewish community. He traveled there with his students and for several days and nights engaged in spiritual activities that were able to arouse G‑d’s mercies and avert the decree.

Afterwards, his students asked him: “Why did you have to travel to that community? You could have carried out the same spiritual activities in your home town.”

The Baal Shem Tov answered: “If I could not save them, I would share their fate.”


The Purim saga centers around two people: Mordechai and Esther. Certainly, the sequence of events reflects a series of Divine miracles, but these two were the ones who set the example and provided the catalysts to call forth those miracles.

What was so unique about their conduct? The Megillah relates that Mordechai informed Esther of Haman’s decree, stating: “And Mordechai told [her messenger] of all that had happened to him.” The decree was against the Jewish people as a whole. As the king’s counselor and the cousin of the queen, it is highly probable that Mordechai would not have been included in it. But he had no thought of that. The decree “happened to him.”

When Esther at first hesitated to take action, he told her: “Do not imagine... that you will be able to escape in the king’s palace any more than the rest of the Jews.”

Mordechai’s response touched Esther’s core. She took the initiative and risked her life for her people.

Esther and Mordechai weren’t absentee leaders, the type who sit in the back and give advice on how to deal with difficulties. When their people were in danger, they felt their own lives were on the line and they risked everything. Why? Because the most important things to them were their people and their people’s mission in the world.

For a true Jewish leader, there is no difference between the fate of his people and his own personal fate. On the contrary, he has no thoughts of himself at all. He thinks about his own destiny as it is intertwined with theirs.

Such an approach has an effect on the people, jarring them out of their self-concern and involvement in their own petty private affairs and pointing their attention to their national mission. When a person sees a Mordechai giving up all his private concerns for the people as a whole, that person realizes that he too can and should focus on a goal in life that is greater than his individual self.

And as that aspiration spreads within the Jewish people, G‑d creates an environment that allows it to happen, even bending the natural order — if that is what is necessary — for that to happen. This is the core of the Purim story.

Looking to the Horizon
Celebrating Purim with Mashiach

Our Sages relate that during the era of Redemption, all the festivals will be nullified with the exception of Purim. The commentaries question this statement, for the Torah is eternal and unchanging. They explain that in the present era, the festivals represent revelations of G‑dliness that transcend the ordinary pattern of spiritual revelation. Hence they stand out with prominence. In the era of Redemption, by contrast, the revelation of G‑dliness will be an ongoing aspect of our existence. Therefore, the festivals will not be considered unique. They will be observed and all the laws will be kept; but the spiritual nature of the days will not stand out.

This is not true in regard to Purim. Even within the setting of revealed G‑dliness that will characterize the era of Redemption, Purim will be special. Not only will we observe the laws of the holiday, its unique spiritual significance will stand out prominently.

What is the reason for this difference? All of the other holidays came about because of a revelation of G‑dliness from His initiative. Purim, by contrast, came about in response to the self-sacrifice of the Jewish people. It was they who took the first step. Despite the challenges of exile, they powerfully reaffirmed their commitment to their Jewish heritage. Therefore they were rewarded with a festival whose light will continue to shine even in the era of Redemption.