Photo Credit:
Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

As such, it would be fair to say that Pesach and Purim reflect two different models of salvation that are possible – the redemption that comes from Above in which our participation is negligible, and the redemption that comes from below, from our own resourcefulness, without which redemption would not come, or, at least, would come in a different way according to Hashem’s will. Thus, when the season of redemption comes upon us every spring, we have before us these two archetypes of redemption.

That analysis, though, omits one crucial factor: that the era of open miracles is behind us and was only meant to be part of the early development of our fledgling nation.


“And I will descend to rescue them from Egypt…”(Shemot 3:8). Divine miracles are a “descent,” a compromise, an intrusion in the laws of nature that Hashem created and with which He governs His world. Passivity was necessary to effect the Exodus from Egypt – a people long mired in slavery cannot be expected to act as free men capable of vanquishing the world’s most powerful empire – but passivity, submissiveness, compliance and reliance on others can never be the foundation of an independent nation, and it certainly cannot ensure that freedom to pursue one’s national destiny can be preserved. For that, our nation has to be strong – strong-willed, strong-minded, strong in its military capacity, and, above all, strong in its values, national character, and connection to Hashem.

* * * * *

In effect, the progression in the Jewish calendar from Pesach to Purim mirrors the progression in our historical development. We began as dependents of Hashem, His first-born and special creation, and we were sustained directly from His hand. But in the land of Israel and thenceforth we became responsible for our own destiny. That does not mean, chas v’shalom, that Hashem is now uninvolved; it does mean that His miracles are hidden and His Providence more subtle.

Sometimes we can see it up close but more often it is possible in retrospect – especially how a browbeaten, demoralized, and exploited people rose up from the ashes, revivified its desiccated bones, and unexpectedly – dare I say miraculously – recreated its national life after a gap of nineteen centuries, an act without precedent in history and unforeseeable to anyone who was not immersed in the ancient vision of the prophets of Israel.

The Hand of Hashem remains visible to anyone who wonders how we were able to survive in the inhospitable climates of one exile after another – and how our immediate ancestors were able to spearhead a renaissance of Jewish national life by confronting the world’s empires and overcoming their objections (even temporarily) to Jewish statehood.

In exile, we remain in the salvific mode of Purim, in which we are the actors and wherein we succeed when we follow the blueprint for statecraft, nation-building, and self-defense delineated for us in the Torah, the words of the Prophets, and the Talmud. Truth be told, the temptation to return to the reactive approach of Pesach is always alluring, especially now. The dangers are that pervasive and the hope for redemption that remote. We cannot let that happen.

With Jew hatred on the rise across the world; with communities in fear and Jews concealing their identities lest they be attacked in the street; with Israel and world Jewry targets of fanatical Muslims who yearn for supremacy over the Jews and elimination of the Jewish state; with the Western world, especially including the United States, unsure of its path and reluctant to embark on a global campaign to eliminate the jihadi threat before it acquires the capability to cause even greater harm; and with this generation’s Persians obsessed with acquiring the weaponry to carry out their ancestor Haman’s final solution, it is very tempting to want to revert to Pesach mode.


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– Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is Israel Region Vice-President for the Coalition for Jewish Values and author of Repentance for Life now available from Kodesh Press.