Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, author of Ben Ish Chai (1832-1909)

On Shabbos Chol Hamoed Pesach we read the Haftarah about the dry bones resurrected by Yechezkel the prophet (Yechezkel Chapter 37). This story took place in Tishrei, so why do we read it in Nissan? Because our Sages (Sanhedrin 92b) tell us that these were the bones of the men of the tribe of Ephraim who forced the end and left Egypt before the foreordained time, and were killed by the Philistines. Since we hope for our future redemption in Nissan more than in any other month, as our Sages say, “In Nissan we were redeemed and in Nissan we will be redeemed” (Rosh Hashanah 11a), we read this Haftarah as a warning to the Jewish people not to force the end, as Scripture says, “Do not arouse or awake the love before it is desired” (Shir Hashirim 2:7). (Yedei Chaim, Laws of Prayer for Chol Hamoed Pesach, Section 9)

He also wrote: Why do we mention the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt every day, but not the miracle of Purim? It was a very great miracle, in which the entire Jewish people was saved from death! The answer is that regarding the future redemption, Scripture states, “I have adjured you not to arouse or awaken the love before it is desired” (Shir Hashirim 2:7). We are forbidden under oath to force the hour, to make any effort toward the redemption and the coming of mashiach. This is why our Sages say that mashiach will come only when we take our minds off him (Sanhedrin 97a). This is the meaning of the verse, “I will show wonders like in the days when you went out of Egypt” (Michah 7:15): the future redemption will be similar to the Exodus, which happened when we took our minds off it – Israel did not force the hour, nor did they make any efforts toward the Exodus. They continued their labor and affliction until G-d sent Moshe, His chosen, to take them out. This is why we remember the Exodus every day, to teach that the future redemption will be similar to the Exodus. Israel will not force the hour or take any physical action toward the redemption, but rather everything will be done on its own, an act of Heaven. In the miracle of Purim, on the other hand, Mordechai forced the hour by sending Esther to the king in violation of the law, thus endangering her life, although there were still many months left before the fulfillment of Haman’s decree. Perhaps Jews would learn from this story that now as well, we must force the hour and take action to bring mashiach by force. Therefore, we do not mention the miracle of Purim daily. (Ben Ish Chayil, Parshas Zachor Drasha 4)


Rabbinic Quotations