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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Purim - Triumph of the Hidden



The title of Megilat Esther, might literally be "The Scroll of the Hidden." It is a holiday in which no great miracle seemed to occur and no forces of nature were overturned. The sea did not swallow the enemy, a light did not burn for eight days and G-d did not appear on top of a mountain. It is a holiday of a hidden miracle.

It is a story of people being confronted by a crushing people determined to destroy them and yet emerging victorious from it. The Jewish people are often compared to the moon. The moon is mostly hidden and yet it appears revealing its light, no matter how often it disappears, it always reemerges again.

In the story of Purim, each arrogant force of power stand counter-opposed by one that is hidden and humble. Vashti is counter-opposed by the self-effacing Esther (whose name itself means hidden) and who wins the hearts of those around her with her humility and lack of adornment. She even conceals her heritage and people completing her hiddeness.

Haman, who is perpetually hungry for power. He boasts to his friends of his great wealth and possessions and power. He even demands the king's crown from the king. By contrast Mordechai sits like a beggar at the gate, his noble deed for the king forgotten and his people doomed.

Haman's glorious ascent blazes like the sun and seems unstoppable. Yet it is a hidden resistance that comes out of nowhere to topple him. Esther's sudden revelation of her origins that leaves him completely helpless. The very showy gallows that he erected to be able to see, then prove to be his undoing.

The king who is constantly mentioned, King Ahasverosh, is set against the King who goes unmentioned throughout Megilat Esther. The hidden King, who is also the King Who Rules Over Kings, G-d himself. While Ahasverosh exalts his own majesty and greatness, it is G-d who determines the outcome. While Mordechai sits covered in ash at the gate and Haman exults in his wealth, it is the true King, not Ahasverosh who will determine his fate.

In the natural order, it seems inevitable that the strong will triumph and the weak will be devoured. Miracles come from the hidden world that transcend the natural world which we cannot see because our eyes and minds are trained to the everyday and the mundane. The natural order is not a moral order, but an order of force. The hidden order underneath it and beyond it is a moral order formed by the Will of G-d. When this hidden order emerges, a miracle occurs, whether or not it appears to us to be miraculous.

Purim is such a miracle, where the miracle is not the splitting of seas or fires burning on mountains, but in the triumph of the hidden. It is the miracle of the burning bush, which burns and is not consumed. A burning bush is not in and of itself a miracle, it is that it is not consumed that is miraculous. The Jewish people throughout history have burned in the fires of a thousand persecution, it is that we are not consumed that is the miracle.

4 comments:

Keli Ata said...

Beautifully written :) Thank you. Ah, the gentle light of the moon, the soft white light that never scortches but lights up the night. Yes, that would describe the Jewish people. The gentleness, modesty, so many other adjectives.
And the moon's light always appears whiter, purer than the light of day.

We have night and day but we're never really in the dark, unless a solar eclipse, like tonight.

Keli Ata said...

Can't recall if I wrote solar or lunar. I meant lunar, like tonight.

Lemon Lime Moon said...

Nicely done.
God always wins in the end.

Keli Ata said...

Yes, He does. We can rely on that.

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