Sometimes, a different date is the best we can do
The Fast of Esther
Queen Esther proclaimed a three-day-fast with repentance to help us warrant to escape Haman’s genocidal plans with us unscratched. The dates? The Thirteenth until the Fifteenth of Nissan! The last day includes Pesach Eve, Seder Night! This was an emergency never to be repeated.
What did we repent for? We finally accepted all of the Torah, not because we had to but because we wanted to. We also had grown quite happy without a Temple and Redemption, outside of Jerusalem and Israel.
But what about our Calling to lead humanity to a perfect world?
We wholeheartedly repented and deserved to escape total genocide.
Yet, can we say today we are distraught that we’re without a Temple and Redemption and with the majority outside of Jerusalem and Israel? Do we care that 1B humans starve every day from greed? That our physical survival hangs in the balance (climate change)? We seem rather content.
I think we could care more. That must be a purpose for the Fast day of Esther. But we hold it the day before Purim. (Unless that’s a Shabbat. Then we will fast earlier, on the Thursday before.) And certainly not in Nissan.
BTW: We didn’t celebrate that we killed our enemy. If we would, we’d celebrate two days of Purim in Jerusalem. Rather, we rejoice because we didn’t have to kill anymore to survive. The end of the killing. Jews don’t like killing. It troubles our brain that we need to bring humanity holy messages.
NB: On the Thirteenth of Adar under Queen Esther, we also did fast. But that was the fast we always held before having to go to war. That makes it all completely unnatural. You would say: Before a battle, eat well. Moses taught us: Victory comes from G^d, not from muscle power.
The Shabbat of the Great Miracle
This was a one-time miracle on the Tenth of Nissan before the Exodus. We don’t celebrate it every year on that date but on the last Shabbat before Passover. On a weekday, it would not get the attention it deserves.
The Giving of the Torah
On the Sixth of Siwan, we should’ve received the Torah (say most Sages). Yet, Moses saw we weren’t ready and asked G^d to postpone to Shabbat morning the next day. Yet, we still celebrate this every year on the Sixth and say: This is the day of the Gift of the Torah. How can that be? Rabbi Leff explains that the language says it exactly right. On the Sixth, we realize it was a Gift, not a Demand. If it’s a gift, we may postpone it for a day.
NB: The second day of Shavuot (outside of Israel also celebrated) falls on this Seventh day of Siwan! It’s not just the second Festival day.
Karaites mistranslate Leviticus 23:15-16 as meaning: “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Shabbat.” The word Shabbat here doesn’t mean the day to stop working but to stop eating leavened food.
The Second Day of the Festivals
Often, we couldn’t tell in time, far away from Jerusalem, when the first sliver of the New Moon was seen, so when the Feast would be. The best we could do is celebrate two days. Not because we want one extra day of Passover or any other Festival. Only, to fast two days for Yom Kippur would be too much for most people so then, we only celebrate one day.
NB: The First Temple was destroyed on the Tenth or the Seventh of Av, the Second Temple on the Ninth of Av. We repent our ongoing sins that stop the rebuilding on only the Ninth because we only can do so much.
The reason is every time: This is the best we can do. The Torah was given to humans, not to Angels. We’re not asked to do the impossible.