web analytics
August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Megillat Esther: Revealing the Hidden


Reading Megillat Esther

Reading Megillat Esther
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

‘When the month of Adar enters, we increase our joy.’ But what if one doesn’t feel like celebrating?

Today marks the 7th anniversary of the tragic death of my beloved student, Ari Seidenfeld, a 9th grader who perished in a house fire together with three of his siblings. I remember getting the call on an early Tuesday morning, before school began. “Ari passed away,” began the broken voice of the principal on the other end of the line. As a new teacher, in my first position as a High School Rebbe, I struggled to cope with the loss while being a source of strength and support for the other students, dealing with their own grief. The Talmud compares the teacher-student relationship to the parent-child relationship. Ari was so funny, he had a joy for life, and just hours before the fire we were dancing and singing, in preparation for Purim. For me, Purim that year felt like Tisha B’Av.

Last year, we were all left shocked and speechless by the brutal murder of the Fogel family of Itamar. Walking back from Har HaMenuchot, together with the over twenty thousand who attended the funeral, I wondered how we would muster up the strength and joy required for Purim. I was left sad, confused and angry.

The same confusion and anger I felt after the senseless death of eight precious, holy souls, gunned down in Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav while studying Torah in the library on Rosh Chodesh Adar, the day that ushers in the festivities.

The joy of Adar is tempered by pain. How do we make sense of it all?

Purim is a holiday that struggles with this very question.

Purim means a lottery, a reference to the lot that the wicked Haman drew. The name of the holiday itself implies fate and chance the roll of the dice, the luck of the draw. At first glance, the story of Purim appears to be a series of coincidences. The narrative is written like a great piece of classical literature: Heroes and villains, high drama and suspense. The plot thickens with all of its twists and turns. But behind this ‘storybook drama’ lies something profound.

According to Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, one of the lessons of the Purim story is that man is vulnerable. One minute everything is fine and the suddenly, without warning, the Jewish People, across the entire Persian Empire, are confronted with the threat of destruction. Is the story merely a string of events strung together with no meaning? Is life just a series of events? Are we merely subject to the whim of an evil tyrant? A pliable king?

Megillat Esther is one of the books of the Bible, but God is not mentioned once. According to our tradition, He is hiding. The Talmud (Chullin 139b) asks, “Where is [there an allusion to] Esther in the Torah? ‘And I will surely hide (haster astir) My face from you.’ ” The Talmud cites the verse from the Torah’s admonition that speaks of hester panim, God seemingly hiding His face amidst Jewish suffering.

And yet, there is a tradition that in the book of Esther, “the King” is an allusion to God, the King of Kings. On Purim, we are challenged to see God, the King, in the narrative. He appears to be ‘hidden,’ but He is pulling the strings behind the curtain. The name of the book itself Megillat Esther (the Esther Scroll) can be understood to mean, “revealing the hidden.”

But it’s not enough to see God in the Purim story, we are challenged to see God in the narrative of our lives: In our trials and tribulations, in the vicissitudes if life – the ups and downs. We are even challenged to see God’s hand in tragedy and in history as it unfolds before our eyes.

Purim is a topsy-turvy day. Everything is upside down. We hide behind costumes to remind us that to truly see is to peel back the layers of perception. We drink in excess to access a deeper reality, one beyond logic or reason. We recognize that redemption can come in places we least expect it and that the plans and schemes of our enemies can be foiled just as quickly as they were hatched.

Being human, we are limited in our ability to understand. Tragic events seem senseless, without a rhyme or reason. World events can seem confusing, with the future uncertain. On Purim, we recognize that God’s Hand is guiding it all. The King is working behind the scenes, pulling the strings. We may not understand all of the twists and turns of the narrative, but we know the Author. All we have to do is put our trust in Him.

Purim celebrates the turnabout from “from sorrow to gladness and mourning to festival” (Esther 9:22). May it be so!

About the Author: Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel lives and teaches in Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Megillat Esther: Revealing the Hidden”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Grafitti on the walls of the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in June 2015.
6 Months’ Jail Without Trial for Jewish Teen Linked to Church Arson
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

By internalizing the Exodus, it is as if we ourselves were redeemed from Egypt.

Neihaus-073115

Each Shabbos we add the tefilla of “Ritzei” to Birchas HaMazon. In it we ask Hashem that on this day of Shabbos He should be pleased with us and save us. What exactly do we want to be saved from? Before we answer this question, let’s talk about this Friday, the 15th of Av. Many […]

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Amongst the greatest disagreements in Judaism is the understanding of the 1st of the 10 Commandments

Daf-Yomi-logo

The Day He Heard
‘One May Seek Revocation Of A Confimation’
(Nedarim 69a)

The director picked up the phone to Rabbi Dayan. “One of our counselors lost his check,” he said. “Do we have to issue a new one or is it his loss?”

Six events occurred on Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av, making it a festive day in the Jewish calendar.

Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Snow in Jerusalem! For many New Englanders like me, snow pulls at our nostalgic heartstrings like nothing else can.

Man has conflicting wishes and desires. Man has forces pulling him in competing directions.

Perhaps the admonition here is that we should not trivialize the events of the past by saying that they are irrelevant to the modern Jew.

One must view the settlement of Israel in a positive light. Thinking otherwise is a grievous sin.

Reaching a stronger understanding of what Moses actually did to prevent him from entering the land

Anti-Zionism, today’s anti-Semitism, has gone viral, tragically supported globally & by many Jews

More Articles from Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel
The Vilna Gaon

All secular wisdom is essential for our Holy Torah and is included in it.

Nadel-050313

A flag with the Star of David hung prominently in the synagogues of Prague since the mid-14th century, with the approval of their great rabbis.

Minutes after candle-lighting, sirens rang out in Jerusalem, disturbing the peace and tranquility ushered in by Shabbat. Earlier that day, my wife and I assured our parents that we are far from the rockets in our home in Har Nof, a quiet suburb nestled in the Jerusalem Forest.

In February, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the Tal Law discriminatory and unconstitutional in a vote of six to three. The law, which provides exemptions for young men studying in yeshiva full time, has been the subject of much criticism and controversy.

The message of the Biblical account of the Spies has tremendous relevance today, here in the modern State of Israel. With a nuclear threat from Iran, enemy states on its borders, the ever-constant fear of terrorism, and pressure from the International Community, Israel is not without its challenges. But it’s also the ‘Start Up Nation,’ with a healthy, growing economy when most of the world’s economies are failing.

In the early days of Statehood, when Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the famed Chazon Ish, and other leading rabbis reached a compromise with David Ben Gurion to provide military exemptions for yeshiva students, only some 400 students were exempted. Writing about a Milchemet Mitzvah, the Chazon Ish himself recognized that “if there is a need for them, they must come to the aid of their brethren.”

It has been said ‘It is easier to take the Jew out of the Exile, than to take the Exile out of the Jew’. While in Egypt, the Jewish people could not even hear Hashem’s promise of Redemption because of their “shortness of spirit.” Their bondage wasn’t merely a physical bondage, but a mental one. And so, while still in Egypt, Hashem began the process of taking the Jew out of the psychology of Exile, ridding him of his slave mentality.

With thousands of Haggadot in print, it can be overwhelming to decide what to buy and what to use at the Seder. Just like kashering the home for Pesach requires preparation, so too the material for the Seder. And according to the investment is the return. Below are twenty of my favorite Haggadot.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/megillat-esther-revealing-the-hidden/2012/03/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: