So we all know the great story of Purim. It goes like this: the King of ancient Persia (modern day Iran), Achashveirosh, was swayed by the wicked anti-semite, Haman, to wipe out all the Jews. Lo and behold, a series of crazy and ironically coincidental events that some would call luck “happened”, and the beautiful, Jewish Queen Esther managed to reverse the horrible decree with the help of her righteous Uncle Mordechai. The Jews were saved–Yay!! Let’s celebrate and say L’Chaim!
Wait–but what’s the big celebration??
Ah–I knew you would ask. So here’s the scoop. The miracle of Purim is all about recognizing the hidden element of Divine Providence within Nature that is the driving force behind the grand scheme of things. When we are not cognizant of this, our world is fraught with fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Hence, our job is to merge the two tracks.
Track 1: Everything that happens in my life is a direct result of my efforts and abilities, with perhaps a little luck factored into the equation. So really, it is all up to me–that is the “natural” course of life.
Track 2: G-d runs the show. And not only that, but Nature is a miracle that happens so often we actually call it natural. So everything that “naturally” happens to me is really G-d’s guiding hand and part of His grand plan that is entwined with fate and destiny.
Very often, we start out with thinking along Track 1 and attribute everything to our own talents and hard work. But when things go south, we automatically shift gears and say, “Hey, why would G-d do this to me?” So by merging with Track 2, we acknowledge that there actually does exist a Supernal Being and a predetermined plan that is running the world, i.e. Divine Providence hidden within Nature.
So too with Purim: It is the acknowledgment that the miracle of Purim occurred due to a detailed chain of events enclothed in a natural process that was responsible for the salvation of the Jews of Persia.
Now, let’s apply this lesson to our present-day situation. We have so much news coming at us all day and night;1 mask, 2 masks, 3 masks, flatten the curve, stay at home, open stores, close stores, school, no school and so much more. What to do and whom to trust?
While the natural process must evolve and we need to heed the advice of the professionals, we are still fearful; our trust is shaky. Do the “experts” really know? Are they the final authority? What about conflicting opinions?
But when we realize there is a Supernal Being that is navigating the ship and we are but passengers, then we can yield to a Higher Entity and leave the fear behind. Relax–G-d is in control. And this is the message of the Purim miracle: When we realize that G-d has a grand plan, we can let go of our worry and just watch things play out while doing what we’re supposed to do within the natural process.
The great heroine of Purim is Esther. In Hebrew, her name is synonymous with the word “hester” which means “hidden”. Yes, G-d is hidden in nature, but in turbulent times such as these, let’s recalibrate our hearts and minds, take a deep breath and remember that throughout all the hype and fear, the natural process is truly in G-d’s hands. While our job is to handle our situation as best possible under the circumstances, ultimately our trust should lie with the Creator of the world and no one else.
A happy, healthy and joyous Purim to one and all!
Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas