Rabbi Yair Spitz
Menahel and Principal of Yeshivat Or Chaim, Toronto
Purim is good
(but apparently not good enough)
Purim is the only Chag on which we don’t say Hallel. The Gemara brings three reasons for this;
The first being that we don’t say Hallel on Miracles that happened outside the land of Israel. After pointing out an exception to this rule, the Gemara moves on to a second answer; reading the Megila is equal to saying Hallel. This answer too, seems lacking, as although we know and understand that Hashem is indeed behind the Purim salvation, during the reading of the Megila itself – we are not praising (הלל) Hashem. If Hashem isn’t even mentioned in the Megila how can its mere reading constitute praise?
The Gemara then brings the third and final answer – אכתי עבדי אחשוורוש אנן – “we were still the servants of Achashverosh”. The story of the Megila ends on a bittersweet note. Though we are thankful our enemies failed, at the end of the story – we were still in Galut, we were still subjugated to the authority of others.
The Gemara continues to explain that Hallel, on the other hand, can only truly be said when its statement of הללו עבדי ה' (“praise, servants of Hashem”) is true. And one cannot be a true, full servant of Hashem based on survival in Galut alone. Survival in Galut has been miraculous, no doubt, and worthy of thanks. That is why we say על הניסים. But survival in Galut is not enough for giving praise.
The three answers should not be seen as mutually exclusive. We recognize and give thanks for the salvation and miracle of Purim, we remember that its occurrence has to do with being outside of Israel and we remember that its celebration cannot be complete until the physical survival of Galut finds its meaning in the sovereign, independent life of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael where we can truly be עבדי ה', servants of Hashem.
Purim Sameach to us and all of Am Yisrael!