The secret of Adar is concealed behind the “mask” of Purim. The scroll we read, Megillat Esther, is one of the closing entries in the Jewish biblical canon and interestingly, has no mention of God’s name. We start the year with the Pesach Haggadah and its manifold recitations of gratitude to God for the miracles performed on our behalf. By the end of the Jewish calendar year, God is out of the dialogue and it’s all about Mordechai and Queen Esther. What has changed? Over the Jewish year, we transition from an emphasis on God’s revealed hand in our redemption (Exodus) to a focus on the action of individuals while God operates behind the scenes (Esther). The message: God is always with us, even when God’s presence is hidden. In order to retain our freedom of choice, God is precisely concealed, to the exact degree that we must strive to find God. This spiritual awareness is the engine of our enhanced joy during this special month. Megillat Esther can be translated as “revealing the hidden.” This remarkable tome serves as a lesson plan for perceiving God’s hand behind all events, for all time.
One of the central tenets of Judaism is that each of us has a crucial role in Tikkun Olam. This is emphasized at the climax of the Purim story: when Queen Esther is given the chance to be the hero by Uncle Mordechai, he warns her, “If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will come from another place” (Esther 4:14). Thankfully, she saves the day. All of us are faced with this fundamental challenge. We can opt in or relegate ourselves to the sidelines. God will get the job done regardless. I say: let’s go for it!
Purim should be celebrated with heartfelt exuberance. Take advantage of the transformative power of the four special mitzvah opportunities: hear the Megillah chanted both night and day, give substantially to the needy, offer neighbors packages of a few items of food as a token of friendship and eat a hearty meal at the end of the day
Let us apply the lessons of Purim year-round. Acknowledge the miracle of God’s stewardship behind the scrim of our lives. Be there for a friend with a gift of food, the gift of time and a patient ear. Seek out opportunities to serve the needy. Be deeply grateful for the feeling of belongingness to this remarkable nation. Share words of Torah with a lighthearted song and a smile. May we always seek to emulate the courage of Queen Esther, and may we not stand idly by with all the challenges facing our people and the entire world.
Sam Glaser is musician and writer. Visit his website at www.samglaser.com.