What does it mean that a decree has been nullified?
In many places, including the Dvar Malchus sicha of Tetzaveh, the Rebbe uses the expression that Haman’s decree was nullified. This expression is actually quite surprising. Where in the Megillas Esther do we see that the King’s order containing Haman’s evil decree was rescinded? The Megillah actually tells us the opposite: Haman’s decree was sealed with the King’s ring, and “a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be rescinded.” What actually happened was that the King issued a follow-up decree: the right of the Jews “to assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them.” (Esther 8:11). The original decree of Haman remained in full force (“cannot be rescinded”), and still the Rebbe calls this the nullification of Haman’s decree?
If we examine this, we will see how it is very relevant to the Geuloh and the sichos of Dvar Malchus.
The question is: how can Haman’s decree be considered to have been nullified? There are two aspects to the answer.
Firstly, the intention behind Haman’s decree was nullified via the issuing of the second decree. By giving the Jews in his Kingdom the right to defend themselves and despoil their oppressors, the original intent (of Haman’s decree) has been nullified and replaced (even as the decree itself could not be rescinded). The second way of explaining it is that nothing changed until the actual fighting and victory of the Jews on 13 Adar — up until that point it was all “theoretical”. Let’s look at the reality on the ground:
The greatness of Purim is explained by the Alter Rebbe in Torah Ohr as connected with the self-sacrifice (mesirus nefesh) of the Yidden over the course of an entire year. Haman’s decree to “to destroy, kill, and cause to perish all the Jews” was decreed to take place “on one day, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar”. From the time Haman’s decree was issued (in Nissan) until the following 13th of Adar was almost a full year. The sword of destruction was held over their heads for full year, and yet nobody thought to deny his Jewishness in order to save himself — this mesirus nefesh is what the Alter Rebbe praises.
However, the “nullification” of Haman’s decree took place only two months after the original decree was issued. “In the third month-that is the month of Sivan-on the twenty-third day thereof, and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded.” (Megillah 8:9). This means that the year of mesirus nefesh was for the most part after Haman’s decree had been “nullified”. Yet, the Megillah itself tells us that the second decree alone was enough to cause rejoicing — Mordechai went out in royal garments, and “the Jews had light and joy, and gladness and honor.” The ten months from 23 Sivan until 13 Adar were ten months of light and joy? Or ten months of fear and mesirus nefesh? Seemingly both together.
What does this have to do with Geuloh?
In the sichos of Dvar Malchus, 5751-52, the Rebbe explains to us that the Moshiach is here, Geuloh is here, we are in Yemos Hamoshiach. Yet the Rebbe also cries out from the fact that we are still in Golus, and Moshiach and the Geuloh haven’t come in actuality (b’poal mamash). Chassidim are still arguing whether we are living in Golus or Geuloh. But if we use the model of the Purim story, we can understand how to manage the paradox.
On the 13th of Nissan, Haman’s decree was issued. Mordechai dressed in sackcloth and ashes, crying in the street, gathering 22,000 Jewish children to fast and learn Torah. Esther made the two feasts, after which Haman was hung on the gallows and the King gave his ring to Mordechai. On 23 Sivan the new decree was sent out. Mordechai dressed in royal garments and the Jews rejoice. Ten months later the date of 13 Adar approaches. The sonei Yisroel start sharpening their weapons. The reality looks very much like Golus at its worst.
A Jew who lives with what his eyes see can be filled with apprehension and fear, “Hashem — save us!” But a Jew who lives on Mordechai’s dimension understands that Hashem’s already did his part ten months earlier! The Geuloh is already here, but it has to be realized in actuality. The Jews still have to take advantage of the 2nd decree, to actually “assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them.” Hashem did His part, now it’s up to you!
The 13th of Adar looks like we’re still in a Golus world. But Mordechai has already given us the power of Geuloh: to overcome this apparent Golus and reveal that the Geuloh became a reality back on the 23rd of Sivan. A reality, yes, but still abstract and theoretical. But one who holds by the “theory” will know what to do to make this Geuloh a reality — boldly take his weapons in hand and go out to face the enemies with confidence. One who is overwhelmed by what his eyes see will want to lock himself up in his house, shut off the lights, and hope they don’t see him. He might beg Hashem to save him, or he might think of ways to appease the enemies — either way, he remains in Golus despite the fact that Mordechai has put the Geuloh in his hands.
We are standing on the 13th of Adar! Mordechai of our generation, the Rebbe Melech haMoshiach, has already sent out the decree of Geuloh, and has also given us the weapons: Chassidus, Mivtzoyim, Hakhkel, Shlichus. And the Rebbe said “it must be done by you and by you and by you!” What is required is that each one of us understand and internalize the Rebbe’s message (the “direct path”), and through this each one will realize that he can and must do his part to bring the Geuloh from abstract theory to reality, to reveal the Geuloh b’poel mamash!