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Is G-d Missing?

by Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles

  

Library » Holidays » Purim » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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As a Safed writer, I was once asked by a secular Israeli publication to contribute an article about  Kabbalah, Chassidut, meditation, etc. - all those special elements of Judaism which are identified with the city of Safed. I did so. The feedback was that the mysticism and "spirituality" in it was excellent, but "there is too much mention of 'G-d'".

"The name G-d is never mentioned...."  

I could crack a few good jokes here, but I'll refrain. Instead, in the spirit of the season, I'll simply say, if that comment reflects your feelings too, dear reader, do I have the book for you!

It Chronicles a series of events and circumstances that would seem to have been conspicuously effected by divine intervention, but the name "G-d" is never mentioned. And yet, it is one of the twenty-four books of the Holy Scripture! Did you figure it out yet?

If that comment reflects your feelings too, dear reader, do I have the book for you!
That's right. The Scroll of Esther, read publicly evening and morning on the festival of  Purim.

"Even if G-d is not in the text, He can never be removed from the picture!"

Many reasons have been offered to explain this anomaly. Among them: perhaps Esther was concerned that her book would not be accepted as Holy Scripture. Or that when the Persians translated it for their official annals, they would substitute the name of one of their deities.

But it goes deeper. A main motif of the Scroll of Esther, the Megillah, is disguise - things not being what they seem to be. Even the name "Esther" in Hebrew connotes hiddenness and invokes the theme of G-d's concealment from us: " Anochi hastir astir panai" - "I shall surely hide My face."1

This is certainly appropriate, as one of the striking things about the incredible succession of events is how easily (for a biblical book) they could be rationalized as a series of natural coincidences. Indeed, with the exception of Esther and Mordechai, it took years until people gained enough perspective to realize the extraordinary extent of G-d's involvement.

So, just because you don't see Him or recognize Him or think of Him, it doesn't mean He is not there. That is why in this case I didn't mind re-writing the article. The bottom line is: even if G-d is not in the text, He can never be removed from the picture!

Reprinted with permission from www.kabbalaonline.org

Footnotes

  • 1. Deut. 31:18.

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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.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Chassidut
The teachings of the Chassidic masters. Chassidut takes mystical concepts such as G-d, the soul, and Torah, and makes them understandable, applicable and practical.
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.
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.
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.
Chronicles
The final book of the Bible. This book summarizes the events described in the first 23 books of the Bible, from Creation until the destruction of the 1st Temple.
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.