Parshot Festivals

Reading the Megillah from beginning to end

The Talmud states that “one who reads the Megillah backwards did not fulfil the mitzvah [commandment]”.
by Rabbi Ari Kievman | Mar 05, 2020

Why would anyone consider reading the Megillah, or any book for that matter, out of sequence?

The Baal Shemtov (1698-1760) explains as follows: in every generation, there are modern-day, contemporary Hamans who conspire towards our demise and annihilation. Each year, when reading the Megillah, we are reminded how G-d miraculously rescues us.

If you read the Megillah out of order, thinking that the Purim story is one of ancient history with no contemporary bearing, then you have missed the point.

We have all experienced in our personal lives moments of dismay and turmoil, when the Hamans from within and without have breached our personal territory. While reading the Megillah, we must recall Haman’s plot to destroy us. As Haman maligned the Jewish people, he told King Achashverosh, “There is one nation, dispersed and separated...” Commentators explain this to mean that they were in total disharmony, divided without unity. To amend this, Esther instructed Mordechai, “Go gather all the Jews together” – bring unity, peace, and harmony upon them.

The saying, “United we stand, divided we fall” has profound relevance. The only way to get salvation is through unconditional harmony. Sometimes we get so caught up in the smaller differences between groups of people, we forget that we are all human. And, as part of G-d’s plan, we can better fix the world through mutual understanding and working together. If that seems impossibly utopian, then let us at least try to reduce our own baseless hatred of others.

Let this year’s Purim resolution be that together, we can promote more unconditional love and appreciate that which others in our community also contribute to our society.

  • Rabbi Ari Kievman is the director of Chabad's Goodness & Kindness Centre.

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