Purim Revealed

Old Megilla Scroll

The only Book in Tanach [Scripture] that does not mention Hashem's Name is Megillat [scroll of] Esther. In fact, there isn't even any inference at all. This is the key to understanding the whole Purim saga: Lurking behind the dramatic scene is a miracle that will eventually be revealed in the end.

Things are not always as they may seem. Although Purim looks on the outside to be a wild holiday with a licence to do anything in the name of fun, it has an essential theme of "hester panim" [hiddenness; lit. "hiding of the face"] throughout. This is alluded to by the name "Esther" itself. Queen Esther's Hebrew name was actually Hadassah, but then again, nothing is as it seems! However, our predecessors weren't having such a quaint time.

Jewish history was not going so well at the time of Esther. The Nation had been exiled after the destruction of the first Temple. Jewish Nationality was not a popular interest. Everyone was scattered, and disunity among Jews prevailed. As a result, an ominous deadly fate was knocking at Queen Esther's door. Extermination of the entire Jewish nation- genocide- was swiftly being planned by the wicked Haman. The outcome seemed so imminent, everyone was going to die!

At the last moment of gloom and doom, the whole situation is turned completely around to have the totally opposite result: The wicked Haman who plotted to exterminate the Jews ended up being hanged himself instead! Was it just by chance that Esther became queen? Was it simply a fluke that Mordechai was in the right place at the right time to overhear the plot to kill King Achashverosh? In this we see how Hashem works without our knowing what is going on, guiding all events, so that when we least expect it, His Mercy shines through divulging His extreme love for Klal Yisrael [the Jewish Nation].

Now we can start to understand the secret of our relationship with Hashem in exile. The peoples of the world think that Hashem has abandoned us. Feeling a sense of dejection, we tend to loose enthusiasm about our religion. It's a repetition of when the Amalekites attacked our forefathers when they were going out of Egypt. (It is no coincidence that Amalek was the great grandfather of Haman.) Despite the miracles that our ancestors witnessed, they started to doubt Hashem. Moses endured, and kept his hands raised in prayer. Only then did they prevail.

Our strength is an innate ability to see Hashem's involvement in the world, even when He is "hiding His Face". The twist of events for our ancestors is a classic example of Hashgacha Pratit [Divine Providence]. As history unfolds, one realizes how seemingly disconnected occurrences become critical key factors in the end. Ultimately we will see that there is always a Guiding Force watching over us, even when the chips are down and all seems to be lost. As it is written, "Behold the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps" (Ps. 121:4).

So what did our ancestors do to merit this Divine Intervention? They overlooked their differences and came together. Perhaps this is one reason why we often dress up in costumes on Purim, "hiding" our identity. We are less likely to to have a negative bias towards someone behind a mask. When we all pull together and get along, Hashem no longer has any reason to leave us in exile. If we choose to overcome our inclination to dislike others- overlooking our differences, Hashem likewise "overlooks" our imperfections and treats us favorably.

The bottom line is this: It's all up to us to get along. Instead of sending mishloach manot [food gift packages] to our friends within our social groups, why don't we send it to fellow Jews that we may not necessarily agree with? Chassidim giving to Misnagdim, Orthodox to Reform, Secular to "Frumies", etc., and visa versa. None of these groups "bite", notwithstanding an occasional "bark" here or there! Lighten up, we can all sincerely be friends, irrespective of any differences we might have. This is the ultimate manifestation of our ability to see the hidden- the good in every Jew!

Purim Sameach [Happy Purim],
The Jewlight Staff.

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