1. The present date, the eleventh of Adar, is explicitly mentioned in the Mishnah which relates: “The Megillah may be read on the eleventh, the twelfth, the thirteenth, the fourteenth, and the fifteenth [of Adar].”

The Talmud explains that, according to law, the Megillah should be read on the fourteenth of Adar (in unwalled cities) and on the fifteenth of Adar (in walled cities) for these are the days on which Purim is celebrated. Nevertheless, the Sages desired to make it easier for the people living in outlying villages who have difficulty collecting a minyan to hear the Megillah read communally. Hence, they allowed them to read the Megillah on either the Monday or Thursday before the holiday, a day when they would, regardless, be gathering together in a city to hear the reading of the Torah. These Mondays or Thursdays could be either the eleventh, twelfth, or thirteenth of Adar depending on the year. (Although the primary obligation is to read the Megillah on the fourteenth and fifteenth, the Mishnah mentions the eleventh first, beginning in chronological order.)

Important lessons can be derived from every precise detail in Torah, particularly when applying these concepts to our spiritual service. Thus, in regard to the date, the eleventh of Adar, the Shaloh and the Tzemach Tzedek note that eleven is numerically equivalent to the letters, vav and hay, the last two letters of G‑d’s name. The first two letters of that name, yud and hay, are numerically equivalent to fifteen. Thus, by coupling together the first and the final day mentioned by the Mishnah, G‑d’s name Y‑H‑V‑H is spelled out. This relates to the Megillah which, on one hand, does not explicitly mention the name of G‑d, but on the other hand, contains many allusions to G‑d’s name through gematrios and acronyms to the extent that its holiness surpasses that of all the other prophetic works. Indeed, our Sages declared that all the works of the prophets and the sacred writings will be nullified in the Messianic age except the Megillah.

The holiday of Purim and the reading of the Megillah is connected with the giving of the Torah as our Sages commented on the verse, “And the Jews carried out and accepted:” At the time of Purim, the Jews “carried out” what they had “accepted” on Mount Sinai. Our Sages explain that, at the giving of the Torah, G‑d “held the mountain over them like a barrel,” telling them, “If you accept the Torah, it is fine. If not, this will be your burial place.” Thus, there was a question regarding the Jews’ acceptance of the Torah. Nevertheless, when the Jews affirmed their acceptance of the Torah during the time of Achashverosh, showing a commitment of self-sacrifice despite the darkness of exile, they resolved any questions that could have possibly existed and demonstrated that their acceptance of the Torah was genuine.

On the contrary, in this context, the meaning of our Sages’ expression, “held the mountain over them like a barrel,” becomes transformed into a positive statement, with each of the words having significance. The Hebrew word translated as “held,” kaffoh (כפה), literally means “forced,” i.e., the Jews are forced, without being able to act voluntarily.

“The mountain” refers to the yetzer hora which, as our Sages relate, “appears as a mountain” and prevents the Jews from accepting the Torah. It was “above them,” referring to an encompassing power. “Like a barrel,” i.e., not just above them, but surrounding them and enclosing them on all sides. All this refers to the efforts of the yetzer hora to prevent the Jews from accepting the Torah with a complete, heartfelt desire.

The service of Purim, however, reveals for the Jews of all time — retroactively affecting even those who actually received the Torah — a positive interpretation of this expression. Kaffoh refers to the service of iskafia, subduing one’s personal desires. “Upon them” implies that the service is of a transcendent nature, too powerful to be enclothed within the Jews’ conscious powers, above their intellect. This implies that our approach to Torah as a whole even those mitzvos which are mishpatim, able to be understood by the intellect,1 will be fulfilled with a commitment that transcends intellect.

The transformation of the meaning of this phrase into a positive statement reflects the service of Purim which, in general, is one of transformation. This applies not only to the day of Purim itself, but the entire month of Adar which is described in the Megillah as, “the month which was transformed.”

There is a halachic dimension to the latter statement. If it is impossible for a person who is leaving on a journey to take a Megillah with him, the Jerusalem Talmud relates that he is able to read the Megillah not only on the eleventh, the twelfth, and the thirteenth of Adar, but from the beginning of the month because, “the month was transformed.”

There is added significance to the above this year when the Fast of Esther is not held on the same day as it is normally. There is a difference in this regard to other fasts. Generally, when Shabbos prevents a fast from being held on its appropriate day, the fast is held on the day afterwards. In contrast, in this instance, the fast is held beforehand. An explanation for this has been advanced, based on the concept that our Sages did not postpone the observance of any of the practices associated with Purim until after the fifteenth of Adar. Thus all the practices associated with the fast, including the giving of the half-shekel,2 are observed today.

May this lead to the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies mentioned in the Haftorah. Since this year is 5750 (תש"נ), “a year of miracles,” it should contain the greatest miracle, the coming of the Mashiach, and other miracles before and after his coming.

May we have unbounded rejoicing, reaching the level where we “do not know the difference between ‘Cursed be Haman’ and ‘Blessed be Mordechai.’ ” This will be in the Messianic age when all the undesirable elements associated with “Cursed be Haman” will be transformed through our service into “Blessed be Mordechai.”3