Friday, March 18, 2011

Purim - The Holiday of Hidden Miracles

Purim is right around the corner. This year, our most joyous occasion is tinged with immeasurable sorrow. Among the mitzvos (obligations) of Purim, we find matanos l'evyonim (sending gifts to the poor). Remembering the less fortunate has always been an inherent component of Jewish celebration. Accordingly, I encourage everyone to either contribute to those less fortunate in our own community or to our extended family, the Fogel family in Itamar Israel, the family that was brutally murdered a week ago in Israel (please click here to see a moving video about the family) or to the countless victims in Japan (our local Federation is collecting for the victims in Japan, please click here for details).

The very name Purim comes from the word meaning "lottery." Some call that a game of pure luck, the winner determined by random inexplicable forces that have no rational basis. Faith however allows us to understand that in a world governed by an All-seeing God there cannot be room for blind chance. A lottery is far more than luck; it is allowing the Director of the universe to decide the outcome while hiding in the background.

There is a Hebrew word in the book of Esther central to the story of Purim that captures this idea best: V'nahafoch -- it was turned around. Everything that seemed like a misfortune at first was in retrospect recognized as a Divine miracle. Because there are miracles, unlike those in the Bible, that come camouflaged as seeming coincidences, as natural events, as incidents that "just happened," but that in reality are the products of heavenly intervention in the affairs of mankind.

Purim is the holiday that harps on what people call coincidence. It reminds us, as the proverb has it, that "coincidence is God's way of choosing to remain anonymous."

Purim has many miracles in its story. Not the kind of miracles that override the rules of nature. Rather the miracles that happen so much more frequently in our own lives. The miracles that we so often discount because God chooses not to shout but rather to whisper. It is His still small voice that we have to attune ourselves to hear as He turns tragedies into blessings. And that is why the festival of Purim, with its message of miracles camouflaged as coincidence, will outlast every other holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Please accept my wishes for a joyous, healthy and safe Purim. May the families of all these tragedies, the Jewish people and the entire world be comforted and spared future such calamities

Inspire yourself to inspire others...
Shabbat Shalom and may God bless you.


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