G-d is in the Scene Even if Unseen - Purim
Encyclopedia Britannica defines Purim as follows: “Purim, (Hebrew: “Lots”) a joyous Jewish festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who, in the 5th century BCE, were marked for death by their Persian rulers. The story is related in the biblical Book of Esther.”
Life in Israel During Purim
Growing up as a Jewish boy in Israel, it was a common scene to see boys dressed up as “King Achashverosh” (Ahasuerus) or “Mordechai” and the girls dressed up as “Queen Esther”, as well as other characters from the Book of Esther. Others dressed up as policemen, soldiers, firefighters, and so on.
During the reading of the Meggilat Esther (The Scroll of Esther) at the synagogue, or in kindergarten, or school, I couldn’t wait to make the allowed and expected noise, either booing or using the rattle, at the mention of the name of Haman the evil one.
Purim is a very joyful celebration, and contrary to what some people might think, it has nothing to do with the carnival or Mardi Gras.
Purim – Lots or Lottery – celebrates the fact that the enemies of the Jewish people in Persia (Iran of today), cast a lottery to choose the date on which they would kill the Israelites. But the plot was discovered and the evildoers ended up being executed.
What is Purim?
This is the brief chain of events: Queen Vashti disobeyed her husband the King as she didn’t want to be shown around as an exhibit. The King, angry and humiliated, searched for a new queen. The king eventually chose a young Jewish girl named Hadassa (aka Esther) to become his new queen. Esther’s uncle Mordechai had previously saved the King from a plot to kill him. When Mordecai learned that Haman, the King’s high Minister, wanted to kill all the Jews, he asked Queen Esther to do something about it. She asked the people to fast with her for three days. She came up with a great plan that resulted in the unmasking of the horrible Haman before the King. Haman, and all his household and fans became the victims of their own weapons. The Jews were delivered from Haman’s diabolical plot to kill them. The Jews of Susa (the Capital of Persia) then rejoiced and celebrated by dressing up and sending baskets of food to each other.
According to tradition, in Purim everything is “upside down”, NAHAFOH-HOO. The phrase, after all, comes at the moment in the Purim story when fate is reversed: “… the very day on which the enemies of the Jews had expected to get them in their power, the opposite happened [v’nahafoch hu].” (Esther 9:1). Another great Purim tradition is giving gifts to the poor, whether it’s food, or money, or other necessities. The goal is to have everyone joyfully celebrate the Feast.
The Book of Esther is the only book in the entire Bible in which G-d’s Name does not appear – not even as a riddle. But His actions and intervention are very much present and seen. Only He could expose the wicked plot to massacre His people; only He could use the result of the “lottery” against the very ones who cast it. G-d is the One who caused the young Jewish girl to rise to power as queen and become the leader of her own people.
The National Leadership’s Role
Here at the National Leadership Center, we are nurturing the future leaders of the Nation of Israel. Perhaps we’ve already helped raise the next Mordechai or the future Queen Esther!
Times aren’t easy for anyone in any kingdom nowadays. But the resilience of a kingdom depends on its leaders and their values. There is no doubt that there is a sense of urgency in preparing ourselves for the future. We can be ready to step into G-d’s call to action and hear Him say to us the same words Mordechai told Esther: “…for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
So, grab your rattle, and let’s read the Book of Esther together, proclaiming that we’ll be ready for Him, “for such a time as this.” No matter what the plots of the enemies of Israel are, G-d is in the scene even if unseen.