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Don’t Be Anxious—Believe!

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil
March 5, 2020

An Iranian group is reportedly threatening to destroy what local Jews believe to be the ancient burial site of Queen Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Despite being outrageous and the responsibility of the Iranian Government to protect all religious sites, these kind of comments make us realise how relevant Purim is to us, even in “2020”!

We live in a constantly changing world, sometimes frightening at the potential outcomes.

The global economy is facing an increased risk of stagnation, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, and fragmented cyberspace threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies — all while citizens worldwide protest political and economic conditions and voice concerns about systems that exacerbate inequality. The challenges before us demand immediate collective action, but fractures within the global community appear to only be widening. Stakeholders need to act quickly and with purpose within an unsettled global landscape.

Are you worried for the future?

The Ramban (end of Parshat Bo) writes of the time of the exodus, “People were confused in Emunah (faith): There were those who didn’t believe that Hashem created the world. There were others who claimed that Hashem doesn’t know what’s happening in the world now… Other people said that Hashem knows, but they didn’t believe in Hashgachah Pratit (that Hashem intervenes with the world). But when Hashem desires an individual or a community, He changes the rules of nature to perform a miracle for them, and all false theories are disproven. The miracles proved that the world has a Creator, He knows and He has Hashgachah Pratit over everything… ” The Ramban explains that the miracles of Yetziat Mitzrayim (Exodus) were to teach us these fundamentals of Emunah.

Purim came to teach us one more essential lesson in Emunah. Purim tells us that miracles are always happening with us. Even when everything seems natural, concealed miracles are happening, hidden within the laws of nature. In the story of Purim, nothing was supernatural. It’s reasonable that Achashverosh would get angry at Vashti when she insulted him, and that he chose Esther, the most beautiful woman in the world, to be his queen. Similarly, all the other episodes in the Megilah can be explained rationally. Yet, when we take a collective look of everything that occurred, it’s evident that it was all miracles.

The Mishnah (Megilah 2) states: “The Megilah is read on the 11th, the 12th, the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th, no more and no less.” The Turei Even asks: Why does the Mishnah need to clarify, “No more and no less?” The Mishnah tells us the five days the Megilah can be read; it’s quite obvious that before and after aren’t the right time to read the Megilah!

The Brit Kehunat Olam answers: the sum total of the dates when the Megilah can be read equals 65: (11 + 12 + 13 + 14 +15 = 65) the same Gematria (numerical value) as Hashem’s Name Adnut (Ad-nai). This Name represents Hashem, as He rules the world in a natural way. The Mishnah says that we don’t read the Megilah before these days, neither after. The date before would be the 10th of Adar, and the date after would be the 16th. 10 + 16 = 26.

Twenty six is the Gematria of Hashem’s Name (Yud & Heh Vav & Heh). This Name – YHVH is the Name of Hashem that represents miracles. The lesson of the Megilah is to attain awareness of Adnut, that Hashem runs the world in natural ways. One who acquires awareness of Hashem by the name YHVH revealed miracles, and doesn’t know that even nature is Hashem’s doing, hasn’t acquired the message of Purim.

The Kedushat Levi (Kedushah Rishonah) further expands on this idea stating that the Name of Hashem doesn’t appear anywhere in the Megilah. Everything appeared natural and therefore Hashem’s Name is concealed.

Yet we are taught by the Ari Z’l that Hashem’s Name is hinted at through acronyms at the beginning and end of the words (Rashei and Sofei Tevot).

The Rashei Tevot of Yavo Hamelech Vehaman Hayom spell YHVH. And the final letters of (Vechol) Zeh Eneno Shoveh Li, spells YHVH.

Why does Hashem’s Name appear with such hints?

The Kedushat Levi explains that although Hashem’s Name doesn’t appear explicitly, it is hinted at through acronyms in order to emphasise that the miracle came about by the culmination of several episodes. The use of several words to each have a letter of His Name was because the build-up of several episodes wonderfully played together to create the miracle. This implies as is the case in present times that we don’t see Hashem per se, but we do perceive Him in the review of the many events that occurred.

The people in Shushan lived through the events of the Megilah. They were aware of Vashti’s assassination, and after that of Bigtan and Teresh. They knew that Esther became the queen, and they were aware of all the other details recorded in the Megilah. They were worried concerned at the global effect and through prayer, fasting and action were able to turn around the harsh decree. In the end all those individual seemingly uncorrelated events came together and people understood that the Hand of Hashem was leading events.

The Rambam (end of Minyan HaMitzvot) writes, “We are commanded to read the Megilah to proclaim Hashem’s praise and to relate the salvations that He did for us. And [to know] that He was close to us when we shouted out to Him… To let the future generations know that it is true what the Torah says, אליו קרובים אלקים לו אשר גדול גוי ומי’ ,who is like this great nation who has Hashem close to them, like Hashem our G-d, whenever we call to Him’ (Devarim 4).”

Are you afraid?

Were you afraid when the Iranian General was assassinated and the world media covered it for days encouraging theories of the end of the world? Are you afraid of the Corona Virus that has spread at alarming rates? Were you afraid for the future of British Jewry before the elections?

It’s normal to have fear and be prudent, but remember:

We live in a changing world. There are constant threats. Whilst we must not be complacent, we should understand that even nowadays, without a Bet Hamikdash and still in exile, Hashem runs the world. He is guiding all the events and what looks like a Pur – lottery, is really fixed by the One Above.

This Purim contemplate, pray, internalise His manifestation in the world and tap in to the power of miracles, it will help reduce your blood pressure!

Happy Purim!


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