Rav Avigdor Miller on Pur, Purim and the Holocaust



If Purim got its name על שם הפור, because of the lot that Haman cast, why isn’t it called Pur instead of the plural Purim?


Pur means a lot, the casting of lots. The Persians used to throw dice among to find an auspicious date. So why Purim? The yomtiv should be Pur. That’s the question.

The answer is Purim means two kinds of lots. One is the lot that Haman threw. And one is the lot that Hakodosh Boruch Hu threw. Haman chose a date that was auspicious for him but Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “That date is auspicious for Me too; this happens to be a good date for Me too. That’s the date I want that the Jewish nation forever should sing and dance and drink a little bit and eat and remember what happened on that day!”

What does that mean? It means this. It could have been Pur! Don’t think that the whole thing was just a frame-up, just a show or an empty demonstration.  It could’ve turned out like Haman wanted! It could’ve turned out like it turned out in Europe.

The truth is, it was also possible to be Purim in Europe. Only that in Europe there was no Mordechai. In Europe, the few Mordechais that were present, were not able to talk. The press wasn’t theirs. The newspapers didn’t belong to them. The Jewish people didn’t listen to their leaders anymore.  The Jewish people listened to the misleaders. There were reform rabbis and socialists and extreme secular Zionists. They were the ones who led the Jewish people in Europe. Did anybody raise the banner of teshuva in Europe? Maybe somebody, a rebbe in his shtiebel somewhere, but nobody saw it. There was no call to the national conscience of the Jewish people to do teshuva and that’s why it didn’t turn out Purim; it tuned out to be a Pur.

But here it says ומרדכי ידע את כל הנעשה – Mordechai knew all that was taking place. And the gemara says ידע על מה נעשה – he knew why it was taking place. Mordechai understood that they were getting a little too close to the gentile. “You’re fraternizing with gentiles! You see that in Persian Empire you have full equality and you’re forgetting that your destiny is to be separate. Ah, if that’s the case then you better change your ways.” And because Mordechai gathered them all together and for three days, and they wept and prayed for three days; they didn’t eat or drink for three days. Try that! Try it sometime, just for fun. They did it!

And they accepted the Torah all over again from the bottom of their hearts without reservations. Ah! The Pur changed into Purim – there were two faces to that Purim. Oh yes, it was a chosen date, but instead of being what Haman wanted, it turned out to be what Hakodosh Boruch Hu wanted. That’s why it’s called Purim, על שם הפור.

But unfortunately, in Europe there was no Mordechai and it wasn’t a Purim. It was nothing but a pur. And a very poor kind of a pur it turned out to be.

We have to learn from that. Oy, it could’ve been another Purim. Hitler you know finally was burned. I remember the day Hitler was burned. It was splashed all over the world. His picture was on the front page and the Yiddish newspapers said  א שיינע ריינע כפרה. It was a big headline: א שיינע ריינע כפרה. You know what that means? “An atonement for the Jewish people.” But it’s a big pity it was so late. If they had done what they were supposed to do, it could have been different. The Jewish people had always listened to the Torah leaders. But now – if only they hadn’t accepted Stephen Wise, yemach shemo, rasha m’rushah. You know Stephen Wise; recently a woman reporter reported that she once went to interview him so he raped her on his desk. That’s the leader of the Jewish people in America! And the second time she met him a couple of years later, ditto. He tried a third time, but she didn’t go this time. That’s the leader of the Jewish people in America. He was the one who had the ear of the President and all the Jews of America listened to him when he broadcast on the radio. So with such a leader, he changed the Purim into Pur.

And in Europe who were the leaders? The Bundists. The socialist were the leaders. Atheists were the leaders. The rabbanim and the roshei yeshiva didn’t have a word. Nobody listened to them and that’s why there it turned into Pur.

And that’s one of the great lessons of Purim! We have to remember why this Purim turned into Purim. It was because we had Mordechai; we had Esther too. Esther was very important in this. It was Esther’s idea to fast three days and to do teshuva!

And therefore if we’ll dance and sing this Purim and we’ll also give money to the poor; poor bnei Torah, poor lomdim in Yerushalayim or elsewhere, and we’ll invite them to our tables wherever we can and we’ll talk about this great lesson that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is running the world and there’s nothing of chaos in our history. It’s all purposeful and it’s all connected from the beginning till אחרית הימים. We have to learn that and stick to the chain. And any Jew who tries to break away from that chain will go lost. Only אתם הדבקים בהשם אלקיכם חיים כולכם היום.
TAPE # 209 (February 1978)