More Purim Thoughts

A common and well-discussed theme of Purim is the hidden miracle.  We are not saved through any obvious miracle, but rather through a series of events which develop in consensual reality–it’s only the chain of them which, when seen in retrospect, reveal the hidden Hand of God.  In fact, of all the books of the Torah, this is the only one which does not include even a single mention of any of God’s names.  Even when the Jewish people are faced with the threat of total annihilation, God does not make an explicit appearance.

Throughout our lives, we go through periods where everything seems perfect as well as periods when all seems lost, and everything in between.  As we grow older, we begin to realize that we’re not necessarily in control of our situations.  Living with the assumption of Hasgacha Pratit, divine involvement in every aspect of our lives, we face the obvious question, why does God want me to undergo these travails?

A fundamental assumption of our tradition is מלא כל הארץ כבודו, m’lo kol ha’aretz kvodo, God fills all of reality with his presence and  לית אתר פנוי מיניה, leyt atar p’nui minei, there is no place devoid of Him.  Likewise, the holy sparks, n’tzutzot, which are our mission to redeem and restore exist everywhere.  Thus, when we’re in a safe, secure and pleasant place and when we’re in a state of pain and fear, we still have the same mission–finding and restoring these n’tzutzot which are uniquely related to our unique souls.  Seen this way, our success is less a matter of preserving a pleasant situation or escaping a terrible one, but rather how well we’ve engaged with and lifted these sparks.

Obviously, it won’t completely change our attitudes and our comfort levels, but if we refocus on these challenges, to at least a small degree we can better survive our downs and not be paralyzed with fear and insecurity with our highs.  The trips up, just like the trips down, can be seen as simply delivering us to the venue of our next opportunity.

Perhaps it was the very mundaneness of our salvation in the Purim story enabled the Jewish people to finally accept the Torah fully, as described by a number of commentators.  Believing in God and participating in the Torah is much more obvious when things are going well or when God visibly comes to our rescue.  But when we’re forced to find God even when He’s making himself hard to see, we’re finally able to understand מלא כל הארץ, m’lo kol ha’aretz (He fills all the world….) and thus have the strength and courage to face whatever comes to our lives with at least some equanimity.

Chag Purim Sameach

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