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Lesson to Be Learned: The Divine Is Around Us

February 25, 2010 By:
Rabbi Elliot Kopel
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The story of Purim plays out like a Hollywood film, with devious plots and sudden twists of fate. But like every great movie, it has a wonderful ending.

Readers of the Purim story notice a powerful number of coincidences. The story, told in the book of Esther, takes place in the year 369 BCE, when King Achashverosh of Persia, in a drunken stupor, sentences his wife Queen Vashti to death after she disobeys his command to attend a party he is throwing.

This makes for the introduction of Queen Esther, who is chosen to become the next royal bride. But Haman -- Achashverosh's evil prime minister -- is angered by the refusal of Esther's uncle, Mordechai, to bow down to him and decides to annihilate the entire Jewish nation, gaining approval from the king in less than a day. He chooses "lots" (purim) to determine the day in which all the Jews will be killed.

Meanwhile, Haman's arch enemy, Mordechai, the leader of the Jews, overhears a plot to assassinate the king.

He informs Esther, who reports this conspiracy to the king in Mordechai's name, thereby saving the king's life. After a sleepless night, Achashverosh asks for the book of remembrances; "coincidentally," the page opens to the point where Mordechai saves the king and is never rewarded.

Just then, Haman "coincidentally" enters the palace with plans to destroy the Jews.

Achashverosh asks him what can be done to the man whom the king wishes to honor.

Haman arrogantly thinks the king is referring to him, so he tells the king to parade this man on the royal horse, wearing the royal garments.

This is the dramatic turning point of the story, for the king informs Haman that he is to personally carry out all that he had said for Mordechai the Jew.

Soon after, Esther reveals her true identity as a Jew, and accuses Haman of plotting to eradicate her entire nation. Within days, the plot is foiled, Haman is hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordechai, and his prime target is promoted to replace him.

This story can be viewed as a chain of random events: a little politics, a little luck and a lot of drama. Or one can realize that there is a divine hand behind it all. According to Jewish law, the Megillah scroll needs to have lines under each sentence. This teaches us that just as the two ends of the line will continue on endlessly, so, too, the Jewish nation will continue on forever.

The name of God is not mentioned in the entire Megillah scroll to teach us that our creator is involved behind the scenes of our daily activities.

One of the vital lessons to be learned here is that God is guiding us and involved in all aspects of our daily lives, even the seemingly insignificant moments. The Purim story ends with Jews celebrating with a feast of wine and delicacies, to promote unity and joy over the realization of this divine relationship.

Rabbi Elliot Kopel is a religious leader at Aish Philadelphia.

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