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Hide and Seek on Purim

The costume party is in full swing. Everybody loves to hide behind a different persona. To don a costume so convincing that nobody will recognize him. The star of the Purim story also loves to hide. And who is the star of the Purim story? It is the Holy One, Blessed Be He. As the prophet says, “Yes You are a God Who conceals Himself, the Savior God of Israel.”[1]

God hides and it is upon us to find Him. He leaves clues all along the way.

Revealing the Concealed

Let us open with Megillat Esther (the Scroll of Esther). Here is the first clue: Megillah can also mean “to reveal.” Esther can also mean “hidden.” The sages say that Esther is alluded to in the verse “And I will surely conceal (haster astir) My face on that day.”[2] God hides His face – He does not openly appear. Now, look for God’s Name in the entire Megillat Esther. You will not find it even once!

Let us compare Purim to Pesach. In the exodus from Egypt, God upended the laws of nature time and again, and revealed Himself through His miracles – making it clear to all Who was running the world. On Purim, however, all remained within the boundaries of nature. True, Megillat Esther keeps us in suspense as we learn of the palace intrigues. But everything that takes place is in keeping with the rules of Persia and Madai, sealed with the ring of the king. It is all seemingly a matter of politics…

Hence, we do not say the Hallel prayer on Purim. Hallel is for times of revelation, such as Pesach, when God’s great light was so obvious that even Pharaoh had to acknowledge it. On Purim, conversely, we are still deep in the darkness of exile. We still remain subservient to Ahashverosh! The main player remains hidden behind the scenes, moving the actors on the stage without ever showing His face.

Why then, are we so happy on Purim? Precisely because of the concealment! We already know that God can break all the rules. On Purim, we pay homage and rejoice in God’s Divine Hand within the laws of nature. We sense the hidden miracle in the garb of mundane reality, the hidden hand inside the palace intrigue. We read Megillat Esther, reveal the concealed dimension of Purim, and rejoice in it.

Who is Hiding Inside Me?

What is the word in the Megillah closest to God’s Name Havayah (yud – hei –vav – hei)? Yehudi (Jew). They both share the letters yud – hei – vav. Additionally, we can draw the final two letters of Yehudi, dalet and yud די, so that the yud is inside the dalet, creating the letter hei ה – the final letter of God’s Name Havayah. In this manner, Yehudi equals Havayah.

What does this mean? It is idol worship to say that a person is God. God is lofty, infinite, and incomprehensible, as opposed to the lowly, limited human being who is here today and gone tomorrow. Nonetheless, just as God hides behind the screen of nature, so He hides inside us. A Yehudi acknowledges (modeh)  God and rejects idol worship, like Mordechai, who refused to bow to Haman. God conceals Himself within this point of Judaism, the pintele Yid, inside every Jew.

This is expressed in the fact that Jews have a concealed love for God within. It is a profound connection to God, to the Torah, and to the Jewish People. Jews even have a point of Mashiach within: their aspiration to do their part to bring redemption to the world. Behind the screens and the masks, the routine and the mundane, we want to be Yehudim (Jews) in the most consummate way. This is our secret. And if we don’t manifest this daily,  a glass of wine on Purim will reveal it. L’chaim!

[1] Isaiah 45:15.

[2] Deuteronomy 31:18.

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