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When God is Hidden: The Meaning of Purim

March 12, 2019 | by Slovie Jungreis-Wolff

Finding meaning and hope in times of darkness.

“These days will be remembered and kept in each generation, in every family, land and city. These days of Purim will never be abandoned by the Jews, nor shall their memory die out among their children.”

Every year the Scroll of Esther must be read aloud in public, usually in the community synagogue. All adult Jewish men and women are given an obligation to hear every single word to fulfill the mitzvah.

Why? Don’t the other Jewish holidays have miracles far greater and wondrous? And why is Purim uniquely celebrated specifically through reading the Megillah?

Here is the message that sears into the heart and soul of every Jew throughout the centuries. The message that whispers to us in the silence of the night: “Do not be afraid. Even if it feels as if I am so far away, hidden and concealed. I will never abandon you, My dear children.”

The miracles of Chanukah and Passover, the shelter of Sukkot all speak openly about the hand of God in our lives. Divine intervention swooped down and saved the nation of Israel. We sing about the revealed miracles. There is no denying the obvious. How could one not believe? A scroll is not necessary.

But what happens when there is miracle after miracle yet no one seems to see the explosion of God’s mighty hand in this world? When God’s voice is masked by nature seeming to take its natural course?

Purim’s miracles were intentionally hidden. Esther happened to be chosen. She happened to be Jewish. Achashverosh happened to be taken by her. We had one of our own in the palace and wow, were we lucky! Mordechai happened to hear the plot to kill the king. Haman happened to erect the gallows upon which he was eventually hanged.

There is no luck or coincidence here. It’s all meant to be, directed behind the scenes by God’s guiding hand.

The name of God is nowhere to be found explicitly in the Book of Esther. It is only alluded to, hidden, waiting to be found. God purposefully concealed His name to teach us that there are times that great miracles are camouflaged, waiting to be discovered.

We all go through times that we believe that we are alone, on our own. Sometimes they are moments of great success. We think it’s all about being at the right place in the right time, karma, or our very own abilities.

We are ignorant or indifferent to God’s mighty hand in our lives. Propelling us forward, showering us with blessing. It is up to us to truly see and recognize the Source of life in our days.

Then there are those moments of darkness. We are bewildered. What happened to me? How am I ever going to get out of this? Where is God? I feel so abandoned. Why is God hiding?

Our people thought the same when the holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. We were sent into exile. Dispersed as the smoke and fire rose over our once glorious Temple. Fear spread from one to another. Can it be that God has abandoned us forever?

The Book of Esther teaches us that even in the darkness of exile, even in the looming shadows, we must never fear. God is watching over us. Perhaps His hand seems hidden. Perhaps the healing seems to be taking forever. We wonder, does God even care?

Beneath the heavy clouds is the hand of God, tenderly watching over us.

I was born upon the ashes of the Holocaust. My birth and the birth of my siblings were all hidden miracles. And each day we must only look to see God peering at us through the curtains of the heavens. Guiding us. Protecting us. Calling out to us. Granting us life.

We each have our own personal scroll to write. Purim gives us the message of courage and strength to seek the hidden hand of God through the dark clouds. This is the true definition of faith.

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