REVEALING THE HIDDEN
Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman
With all the fun and frolic of Purim, we sometimes forget the many lessons to be derived from the Book of Esther and their applications to our daily outlook on life.
With all the fun and frolic of Purim, we sometimes forget the many lessons to be derived from the Book of Esther and their applications to our daily outlook on life. Like all the books of the Bible, the Book of Esther was written with ruach hakodesh (Divine inspiration). Besides its historical importance, it teaches us valuable lessons no less applicable to our lives today than it was at the time of its composition thousands of years ago. One of the lessons of the Book of Esther is that the real causes of events in history are often far different than those that are apparent at first glance.
In the story of Purim, it would seem that the stubbornness of Mordechai not to bow to Haman was the cause of our peril and the edict of destruction. However, the Talmud teaches that the real cause of Haman's decree was that the Jewish people participated in the king's feast described in the first chapter of the book. The king's feast celebrated his belief that the destruction of our holy Temple was permanent and that it would not be rebuilt. It also signified that the Jewish people no longer needed to look to Jerusalem in hope, but rather they should realize that Persia is their new home. Although participation seemed to be a diplomatic necessity, it was in direct defiance of Mordechai's orders not to attend, thereby creating a breach in the unity of the Jewish people.
At the time, almost the entire Jewish population blamed Mordechai for the danger and decree that hung over them. It was only when they recognized that their sin was the true impetus of their present danger, and subsequently repented, did the hidden miracles of Purim take place.
A great lesson of Purim is that we must seek the true underlying reasons behind historical events, rather than settling for the superficial direct causes. In Hebrew, the word "megillah" shares the same root as the word "reveal". By contrast, the name "Esther" comes from the root word meaning "hidden". Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther), therefore, translates to mean: "Revealing the hidden." It teaches us a powerful lesson about cause and effect that we can carry with us wherever we go. We must not be satisfied with superficial evidence. Rather, we must delve into the root cause of the issues that we face.
In Persia, disaster turned into redemption by joining and uniting together in prayer and repentance. Today, it is no secret that our long exile is the result of baseless hatred - a lack of unity. Let us inculcate the lesson of Purim into our lives. Let us unite in brotherly love, turn to Hashem in prayer and repentance, and transform this long exile into a complete and eternal redemption.
Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman writes from Atlanta and is currently working on a book about the festival of Purim.
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