Friday, February 26, 2010

Purim - The Holiday of Hidden Miracles

This coming Saturday night is the beginning of the holiday of Purim. It ends Sunday night.

Everyone knows the basic storyline -there was a king (Achashverosh) and his evil minister (Haman). Haman hated the Jews so much he decided to murder all Jewish men, women and children. By happenstance, Esther the Queen happened to be Jewish. Through the intervention of Mordechai and Esther the Jewish People were saved. Amazing story - but why do we bother with it year after year? After all, the name of G-d isn't mentioned at all as our savior.

This is the exact point to be made. In the Purim narrative, G-d doesn't save the Jewish People through open miracles (like in Egypt) but rather is behind the scenes creating situations for the Jewish People to be saved through "natural" means.

I like each of our holidays for different reasons. About four weeks after the holiday of Purim - we have Passover. I like Pesach because G-d came into our lives with a strong "hand" and outstretched "arm" and with great wonders... and we were saved.

I like Purim because it's more along the lines of our lives today. We don't see G-d's hand so easily in our everyday affairs. (I wish we did sometimes.) We take the "coincidences" and "lucky" moments that permeate our lives for granted - rather than see the finger of G-d helping us choose the right direction to head in.

Take a moment this Purim to think about those "coincidences" and "lucky" moments. Let us realize that we are not alone in our lives.

On Purim we have four mitzvot (commandments).

1. The mitzvah of hearing the megillah (story of Esther) read.
It's important to know why we are celebrating. It's also important to note that we gather as a group rather than individuals. We are all part of the Jewish People. Haman wanted to destroy us all - men, women and children. It's important that all of us realize we're all in the same boat - no matter the philosophy a Jew may subscribe to.

2. The mitzvah of giving mishloach manot - gifts of food.
We are required to give at least one package of ready made food (two types) to a friend. This is a way of connecting with one another.

3. The mitzvah of matanot l'evyonim - monetary gifts to the poor.
Yes, there are poor Jews out there. It's important on this holiday to give money to organizations that help our People in their time of need.

4. The mitzvah of seudah - eating a festive meal.
Eating good food is a huge part of the holiday. Haman wanted to physically destroy us. On this day we enjoy our physical body by eating, drinking and having a good time (within Torah guidelines).

All of these mitzvot are geared to bring the Jewish People together. It's important that we show love for one another, and by showing love for G-d's creations - we are also showing love and appreciation for G-d, our Creator.

This Purim realize that Queen Esther was not alone when she approached King Achashverosh to ask for the lives of the Jewish People, and realize that we are not alone when we are faced with problems that seem insurmountable.

Chag Sameach!
Happy Purim!

For more on Purim - click here!