All beginnings were from Pesach
In Lesson 74 of the second part of Likutey Moharan, Rebbe Nachman tells us the following:
“For initially, all beginnings were from Pesach, which is why all the commandments are a commemoration for the Exodus from Egypt. But now…[the Rebbe did not finish the sentence.]”
Rav Natan adds in here by way of explanation that “Now, all the beginnings are from Purim.” What does this mean? Rav Natan writes in a number of places about what Rabbenu was really getting at, when he told us this.
Let’s take a closer look at this idea. Firstly, let’s explore what ‘Pesach’ and ‘Purim’ really are. We know that each chag, each festival is a reminder, as it were, to some historical spiritual ‘awakening’, when some sort of order and rectification was created throughout all the spiritual worlds.
The holy energy of Pesach comes down each year
The Arizal tells us that each year, the holy energy of this ‘order and rectification’ returns, in the same way that is was present on that initial occasion. The Arizal continues that this spirit of holiness returns each year on the same date, and this is what effectively creates the chag. So practically speaking, the chag is determined according to the order of the ‘upper lights’ that it creates in the higher spiritual world.
When Pesach comes around again, this is not some arbitrary decision, that on the 15th of Nisan we have to do Leil Seder. Rather, they are doing Leil Seder, seder night, in each and every one of the spiritual worlds. This means there is a seder shalem – there is a whole seder, or order, or spiritual rectifications going on.
Now, things start from Purim
Rabbenu says that once, all the beginnings were from Pesach, but now they are from Purim. So what is the essence of Pesach, and what is the essence of Purim? The Gemara in Masechet Megilla tells us that we have to ‘join’ one geula (redemption) to another. The intention here is that we should ‘join’ the redemption of Pesach to the redemption that occurred on Purim.
Practically speaking, Am Yisrael experienced two redemptions: the first redemption of Pesach commemorates the exodus from Egypt, when the nation of Israel was born as a nation of slaves, and all of the miracles occurred in Egypt. And the second communal redemption occurred on Purim, 957 years after the exodus from Egypt.
The story of the Megillah takes place after Am Yisrael had already arrived in Eretz Yisrael, and already built the first temple, which was subsequently destroyed when the children of Israel were forced into exile in Bablyonia.
The Second Temple Period
Haman was hung three years before they began the rebuilding of the second temple, so this was really an additional redemption for Am Yisrael. They came up to Eretz Yisrael, built the second temple, and so began a completely new stage in the history of the Jewish nation. This period was called: ‘The Second Temple Period’, and it was completely different from what had come before.
Rabbenu says that all the beginnings used to be from Pesach, but now, they are from Purim. Rav Natan explains the depth of this observation, and tells us that the exodus from Egypt created a new reality where Am Yisrael were firmly connected and bound to Hashem, both communally and individually. This is what Hashem wanted, and this how the process of spiritual rectification and coming closer to Hashem worked at that time.
But now, Am Yisrael couldn’t continue to serve Hashem in that manner any more, which is why the first temple was destroyed, the nation was dispersed into exile in Babylonia, and the whole story of Megillat Esther had to occur.
All of this created a ‘new order’, a new way of coming closer to Hashem.
This is what Rabbenu is telling us, that once all the beginnings started with Pesach. I.e., the whole way that we would draw closer to Hashem used to have to be modelled after what had occurred during the Exodus from Egypt. But as we’ll see in the next installment, after we were saved from Haman’s decree, everything changed.
Translated and based on the writings of Rav Ofer Erez in the Ohr HaDaat Newsletter, #121.