A quick story and thought for Purim day…
Rav Levi Yitzchak Berditchever once stayed overnight in an inn belonging to a simple Jew. As was his habit, R’ Levi Yitzchak rose in the middle of the night to recite tikkun chatzos. As he wept for the destruction of the bais hamikdash and prayed for its final reconstruction, his anguished cries awoke the innkeeper.
The innkeeper, having had no Jewish education and being largely ignorant of Jewish laws and prayers, was alarmed and thought that something was amiss. R’ Levi Yitzchak tried to reassure him by saying that he was simply crying over the churban, but the innkeeper had no idea what he was referring to, having never heard of the bais hamikdash at all.
So, there, in the middle of the night, while sitting on the floor and mourning its loss, R’ Levi Yitzchak began to explain to the innkeeper about the glorious structure that was our temple, and about the closeness of Hashem to His people during that era. As he told him about the magnificence and the daily miracles, the innkeeper’s heart and mind were taken away, and he too sat down on the floor and began to cry, mourning deep in his heart for what had been taken away.
R’ Levi Yitzchak then began to comfort and console the man, telling him of Hashem’s promise to one day redeem His nation, and to rebuild the bais hamikdash. He explained that the anger of Hashem had been transposed, moved off of B’nai Yisrael, allowing us to survive and do teshuva, and earn the final redemption. As R’ Levi Yitzchak expounded on the miracles that would once again be when Hashem reclaimed and redeemed B’nai Yisrael, quoting the nevi’im and explaining them, the innkeeper’s sadness faded away, replaced by joy and wonder. He listened breathlessly, his heart swelling with joy, at the descriptions of R’ Levi Yitzchak. As he grew more and more joyous, the innkeeper pulled R’ Levi Yitzchak off the floor and into a merry dance, thinking joyfully of the miracles that were to come.
The noise woke up others in the inn. They came to investigate, and asked what the reason for the midnight celebration was. The innkeeper, as he danced, answered, “Haven’t you heard the bais hamikdash was destroyed?!”
“You see,” Rav Levi Yitzchak, the Berditchever Rebbe, would say when he told his students about this incident, “This is what it means to understand the possuk, אז ימלא צחק פינו: To be able look back and see how all the devastation and challenges of galus were in reality paving the road for geula, to the point that our tears will change to laughter.”
When we listen to the megillah and retell the story of Purim, the miraculous salvation of B’nai Yisrael is only seen once the entire story is told. Each detail, each sub-plot, by itself doesn’t seem to add to the geula—if anything, there are some major hurdles and plot twists thrown in that are pretty daunting!
But as we finish the megillah, and see Hashem’s hand, and how indeed the plot of Haman is turned over onto himself, we see that those scary plot twists were events to be celebrated and cheered. (Rav Nosson Wachtfogel suggests that this is why the megillah must be heard in its entirety with no hefsek, as each scene alone doesn’t allow one to see and celebrate the hidden hand of Hashem.)
We pray each day for the coming of Moshiach and the final geula, but while we weather the daily hardships and trials of galus, we strive to have a joyful positive outlook, understanding that the darkness will soon be turned around—ונהפוך הוא—and will become part of the joy of geula.
May we soon be zoche to see the Yad Hashem in our lives, so we can look back, fill our mouths with laughter, and say of our challenges, “!!ונהפוך הוא”