Spotify’s Shuffle Button and the Meaning of Purim

February 28, 2022

3 min read


Adele was really on to something.

Do you know why Spotify changed their automatic shuffle setting?


She didn’t like the shuffle option.

Adele wrote them, “Our art tells a story and our stories should be listened to as we intended.” She felt that an album tells a tale and changing the order of the music would mean missing the rich depth of the artist’s message. In order to appreciate the full beauty of a collection of songs, the listener should trust the order of the composer for the music’s complete emotional journey and follow the path the artist created.

The shuffle button used to be Spotify’s most accessible option – now it is virtually hidden, thanks to Adele.

As we approach the holiday of Purim, the idea of music playing out of order strikes a chord. As the events of the Purim story unfolded, they seemed random, haphazard, shuffled. A fickle king, a greedy adviser, a dead queen, a Jewish queen. A few feasts, a few fasts. An overheard treason plot, a page in the king’s chronicles. The rise of Mordechai, the gallows, and the downfall of Haman. Who could have understood the interaction of the many complex, interwoven pieces of this Divinely-constructed jigsaw? At the time, God’s presence was hidden. Everything seemed random. No one could see the hidden hand of God conducting the events on the Persian stage from behind-the-scenes.

Beneath the surface there was indeed a rhyme and reason to the clashes and chaos. The was an underlying beauty waiting to be revealed through the Divinely crafted order of events.

But beneath the surface there was indeed a rhyme and reason to the clashes and chaos. The was an underlying beauty waiting to be revealed through the Divinely crafted order of events.

“And it was reversed, the Jews dominated their enemies” (Esther 9:1). Everything was overturned, inside out. Suddenly, there was an orderliness to the chaos. A script for the dramatic events. A flash of light in the post-prophecy world. The Jews were living after the destruction of the 1st Temple. They lacked the closeness and clarity of God’s presence the previous generation enjoyed. They were living in Shuffle mode. But the beauty of the Purim story is that even when life looks like a pur, a lottery subjected to the whims of chance, there is a Master Conductor pulling all the strings. There is a Divine symphony being played; we just need to find the right frequency to hear it.

God is referred to as a rock. (‘There is no rock like our God” [Samuel I 2:2].) The Talmud teaches (Megilla 4a) that the Hebrew word for rock, “tzur”, is linguistically related to the word Hebrew word for artist, “tzayar”. God is the Ultimate Artist, even greater than Adele. He weaves the disentangled threads of our lives into a masterful tapestry, composing the stand-alone notes of our lives into a majestic symphony.

Right now the tapestry is facing backwards, we can only see the ugly, chaotic backside. The album sounds shuffled, the chapters seem incomplete.

But Adele is right. Every work of art tells a story and it’s presented in that order for a reason. The listener needs to play the album through, track by track to appreciate the depth.

The music of our lives is ordered to perfection, crafted by the Master Designer, arranged by the loving Composer. We have to trust that His composition is in perfect order. To see the artistry in the complex design, we need to attune our ears to hear the full brilliance of the music.

We wait for the day when the tracks we’ve been playing since the beginning of time will be heard as one symphony. On that day, the Shuffle button will disappear and the discordant notes of our lives will come together and all will be revealed.

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