Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Tetzave
To dedicate this lesson

Holiness & Hiddenness


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Adar 10 5780
So many events happen in our frantic world that it’s almost impossible to keep up with them: Elections in Israel (oy, again?!) as well as in America; the Corona crisis, the Peace Plan & on and on. Are these random events or are they pieces of a bigger puzzle? Should we be scared, or should we be celebrating? Purim has something to say about all this.

The underlying theme of the Purim story is hiddenness. Esther hides the fact that she’s Jewish – that’s why she’s referred to as "Esther" – which means "hidden" - and not by her real name, Hadassa. Mordechai, too, hides the fact that he’s related to Esther (& certainly that he is married to her!) for otherwise Achashverosh would certainly have known her lineage.

Hashem, too, is "hiding, in a sense, because this is one of only two books in all of Tanach (along with Shir HaShirim) where G-d’s outright name is absent. In fact, the visible hand of Hashem is nowhere to be seen; nothing at all supernatural occurs in the Megila. Things just…happen:

- Esther "just happens" to be crowned Queen at not one, but two beauty contests; - Mordechai "just happens" to overhear a plot against the king, & his act "just happens" to be forgotten until exactly the right moment; - Haman "just happens" to build a gallows in eye-view of Achashverosh, so there is a convenient - & ironic – way to dispose of the madman when the time comes.

As these various events transpired in "real time," no doubt they seemed by the local public to be disconnected & haphazard, fortuitous as they may have been. But when they are seen from above – or from beyond, long after the story has ended – they form an intricate pattern that defies randomness & screams out Hashgacha Pratit, Divine supervision.

Unlike the events of Pesach, when nature is dramatically suspended & all manner of outright miracles bombard our senses, here the choice remains ours to make. Will we chalk up all these various inter-weaving occurrences to chance or to coincidence, or will we acknowledge that some overriding force – hidden & behind the curtain as He may be – is painstakingly directing the action to a greater goal?

It is far from an easy choice to make. Indeed, Esther had to plead passionately with the rabbis to include these Purim events in Tanach, & she was met with a lot of resistance. Part of that may have been due to the fact that glorifying the marriage of a devout Jewish woman to a non-Jew - king though he be - was not something they wanted to publicize. But they may also have wondered if future readers would get the message that Hashem is ever-present, even when His actions are hidden & invisible.

We generally view world events through a glass, darkly. But Purim bids us to see through the fog & spot the truth, and to confirm the adage: "Had I not believed it, I never would have seen it."
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