Mystical Meaning of Purim


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Secret of the Megillat Esther

By Avi Lazerson

        The secret of the Megillat Esther is deduced from its name. The word Megilla has two meanings and the word Esther has two meanings. Megilla traditionally is interpreted to mean a rolled document such as the scrolls that were rolled up in the ancient and medieval periods of history (before the invention of paper). The second meaning of the word is to expose, from the word in Hebrew, . The word Esther is traditionally interpreted to mean a women's name. The second meaning of the word is concealment, from the Hebrew word to hide, .

        Using the second meaning of each word Megilla Esther literally means to expose the hidden.

        In the Megilla itself we find a very interesting phenomena. This is the only book in the twenty four books of the Bible, the five books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Holy Writings which does NOT have in it, even one time, the name of G-d. Yet it is included as a Holy Book. Why is it that not only the name of G-d is not mentioned, but even a hint of the existence of G-d is not mentioned?

        To understand why this is, it is necessary to understand miracles. What is a miracle? Very simply speaking, we say that a miracle is a change in the state of nature for a specific event. As an example, the splitting of the Red Sea, when the Jewish People left Egypt was a miracle. Why? Simply because the nature of the water is not to stand upright but to fall down until it reaches the lowest place possible. When the Jewish People left Egypt, the sea split in half. Each side stood like a wall, and the sea floor became a dry path. This existed only as an escape route for the Jewish People at that time. This is called a miracle. This was a suspension of the laws of nature for a particular time and purpose.

        Another example was the turning of the water of the Nile into blood. A large body of water like the Nile (picture the mighty Mississippi) with all it's tributaries suddenly turning into sickening blood! It's not natural. Yet this was also a suspension of the laws of nature for a particular time and place.

        Now one of the most popular questions of today seems to be: If G-d did miracles for the Jewish People then, why doesn't he do it for us now? It's a good question. The answer is this: The truth is that there are two types of miracles: the hidden miracles and the open miracles. What is the difference between them? Simply, the open miracles are like the examples above. The hidden miracles are different. A hidden miracle is one that happens in the guise of nature. The event that G-d wants to take place, takes place, but in a totally natural manner, in a manner that can be called a "coincidence".

        As an example of a hidden miracle. A person can need money and be deeply in debt. Suddenly he is offered a high paying job that alleviated his financial problems. This may look like an extra-ordinary coincidence, but in reality, it is G-d's way of getting done what he wants to be done.

        Why do we need both types of miracles? There are several marked differences betweenbetween the two miracles. First, from the eyes of the person involved in the miracle. The open miracle is seemingly unrefrutable. It is obvious to all. The hidden miracle is not clearly a miracle. It requires much closer examination. It may become apparent to the person involved only after investigation and contemplation, but the spectator is rarely convinced. Even more important: The open miracle requires NO prior belief in G-d. Through the suspension of the laws of nature we see that something supernatural happened and that can only be related to this higher power that we call G-d. The hidden miracle, on the other hand is more subtle. It requires a prior belief in G-d. It also requires a certain understanding and acceptance of situations as being impossible and it also requires the ability to see the true hand of G-d in them.

        Now we can begin to understand the secret of the Megilla Esther. The whole story of Purim is that of a miracle in which the hand of G-d was evident only through nature. It requires our investigative qualities to uncover it. King Achasverous's anger and the subsequent execution of his wife, Queen Vashti. The swift rise of Hamen to power. The unexplainable hatred of Hamen towards the Jews and the subsequent decrees to kill all Jews. Then the overturn of the decrees and the execution of Hamen. All of these events, and more, as written in the Megilla Esther, are all seemingly natural events. But that is the lesson of the Megilla Esther. Not all miracles are obvious suspensions of nature. Miracles can be embedded in nature. This is the lesson of Purim. It is for us to investigate into our own lives to see the miracles that have come into our lives.

        Why is it necessary to have hidden miracles? The truth is that all of our life is bound up with G-d's miracles. We are blind and callous to the true miracles around us. It is necessary for us to develop a spiritual sensitivity to appreciate the working of G-d. Open miracles require no spiritual sensitivity, they require no effort on the part of man. G-d does the work and man sits as a spectator at a football game. With hidden miracles, man must play the active role. This develops in him a spiritual side. He becomes aware of G-d in the world and in the every day events and in his own personal life. This is of crucial importance. This is the message of Purim. Don't think that miracles are the big earth shaking events like the splitting of the Red Sea. True, that is a miracle. But the life we live and the events that surround us are filled with miracles that are waiting to be revealed by you!

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