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Finding G-d

by Rabbi Dovber Pinson

  

Library » Holidays » Purim » The Story | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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We can find G-d in Creation just as a painting is proof of an artist, and a book shows that it has an author. Yet some see only random void and emptiness, insisting that our intricate world is but a fluke in meaningless chaos.

A philosopher wrote, “G-d has written a cleverly deceptive detective story with so many clues pointing the wrong way.” Proof of the creator is scattered throughout the systems of creation, yet others dismiss it all as mere occurrence; it’s only “natural.”

Miraculous phenomena and the natural order of things may seem to be worlds apart, yet they are not mutually exclusive.

The Torah relates clearly obvious miracles that interrupted and overwhelmed the natural course of events. But there are also ‘natural miracles’ vested and embedded within the routine and ordinary.

We would be awed by an obvious miracle that contradicts conventional thinking, while a concealed indirect miracle piques our interest to look deeper. But after careful evaluation we realize that something mysterious is at work.

A philosopher wrote, "G-d has written a cleverly deceptive detective story with so many clues pointing the wrong way."
The Purim miracle was costumed by nature. A superficial glance at the Purim story reveals nothing spectacularly miraculous. A simple reading offers a tale of chance and coincidence, nothing out of the ordinary. No single event is miraculous; but together the combination of circumstances makes it so remarkable.

The story opens as Ahasuerus throws a party and wants to show off his queen Vashti, but she refuses. Angered, the king kills her and searches for a new queen; it happens that she is a Jewess, related to Mordechai who just happens to overhear a plot and saves the king’s life. Meanwhile, Haman plots to kill all the Jews in the kingdom. One sleepless night as the king tosses and turns in bed, his book of royal memoirs turns to the tale of Mordechai. Esther reveals herself as a Jew and pleads to annul the evil decree. As the king walks into the queen's chamber, he finds Haman there, and condemns him.

Unlike Chanukah’s tiny cruse of oil that burned for eight days, or Passover’s Ten plagues and Crossing of the Sea, Purim’s hidden miracle is dressed within a seemingly natural course of events.

Hide and Seek

Esther, too, is in hiding. No one knows her true identity; she doesn’t even tell the king her origins. Her Hebrew name is Hadassah but she takes on a new Persian name Esther.

The name “Esther” in Hebrew, from the root “str” is associated with the Torah verse, “I will hide (hastir astir) My face from you...1 Note the double hiding, hastir astir - profound hiding. Esther hides in her new identity and name, and the name she assumes also means hiding.

There are various levels of hiding. One is a hiding that screams to be found, while the other is so hidden that no one looks any longer; the fact that it is hidden is itself hidden.

Footnotes

  • 1. Deut. 31:18.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Purim
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
Chanukah
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Megillah
A scroll. Usually a reference to the Book of Esther, one of the books of the "Written Torah", which is read--from a scroll--on the holiday of Purim.
Haman
Descendant of anti-Semitic tribe of Amalek and prime minister of the Persian Empire in the 5th century b.c.e. Schemed to annihilate all the Jews, and the holiday of Purim was established when the plot was foiled.
Esther
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
Ahasuerus
King of the Persian Empire in the 4th century BCE. Husband of Esther, heroine of the Purim story.
Mordechai
Cousin of Queen Esther, and Jewish leader in the 4th century BCE. Played a large role in saving the Jews after Haman, the Persian prime minister, plotted to exterminate them all. The holiday of Purim was established to commemorate this miracle.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.