The Purim Story

On Purim, we read the Megillah – the Megillat Esther (Book of Esther). The Megillah tells the story about how the wicked Haman, who was second to the king, plotted to exterminate all the Jews, and how his plot was miraculously foiled. If we pay close attention to the Megillah, we will see how its story is full of various incidents which contributed to the downfall of Haman and the salvation of the Jews. There are no supernatural miracles mentioned in the story of the Megillah. There are numerous events, which during the time they happened would seems to be minute and insignificant or even detrimental to the salvation of the Jews. Only in the end, after everything came together, do we see the tremendous precision with which God orchestrated every single factor. For example, Haman prepared gallows to hang Mordechai, the leading sage of the Jews. The gallows then served to hang Haman upon them. This turnaround of events came about because, years earlier, Mordechai apprised the king of a plot that his guards had to assassinate him, and “coincidentally,” he was never paid back for this favor. The time this was brought to the king’s attention was precisely when Haman came to ask the king to have Mordechai hung. The ultimate salvation came about through Esther, who was the queen, imploring the king to save her nation. This all took place many years after she was taken against her will to marry the king. God had orchestrated this in advance, in order for her to be in the right place, at the right time, to be able to save the Jews.

A Lesson for Life

The story of the Megillah is not just an interesting and entertaining story. It is a lesson for life for every person. As Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteiman once told someone, the purpose of the Megillah is to ingrain in ourselves the understanding that God is running the world. Every person has things in life which he does not understand. The Megillah teaches us how we should trust God, that everything has a plan, a purpose and a reason. We might be able to look back after many years and see how different experiences contributed to the larger scheme of things, but we might not see the bigger picture in our lifetime. The attitude we ought to gain from the Megillah is to strengthen our trust in God. Even when there are confusing events on our lives, there is a much bigger picture we don’t see. God is always meticulously arranging everything to happen for our ultimate good. We don’t have control over the many turns our lives take, and we must learn that God knows better how to take care of us, and He is constantly involved in ensuring everything turns out for us for the best.

Hindsight is 20/20

When I was in eighth grade, I had applied to a three high schools, but was not accepted to either of my top two choices. My only option was my third choice, which I only applied to as a backup, but didn’t really want to attend. I was not expecting the rejection, nor did the faculty members of my school. They had me convinced that I would easily be admitted to these top schools. I was very disappointed. I did not think at all that I would have a chance to succeed nearly as well at the school I was accepted to, as I would at the other two. It wasn’t until over six years later, after I graduated from the post-high school program, that I realized how good it was for me. Looking back, I saw clearly how there was no way I would have developed and succeeded the way I did, had I gone to either of the other schools. It was amazing to look back and see how God steered me to the perfect school for me.

The Bigger Picture

The Torah forbids us to turn to sorcerers and psychics or connect to the dead to find out what the future will bring, or to make decisions based on superstitions. At the conclusion, the verse says (Devorim 18:13), “You shall be unassuming with God.” Rashi says this means to accept everything that happens from God, instead of trying to manipulate your destiny based on the predictions of unnatural sources. Rabbeinu Yonah says (Sha’arei Teushvah 3:17) that this is a mitzvah to have Bitachon – to trust the God knows what he is doing, and he is taking care of us in the best possible way. We all have things in our lives which came about as a result of a combination of various events we were unaware of and did not appreciate at the time they took place, but only appreciate in retrospect. Just like in the story of the Megillah, we ought to utilize these insights to strengthen our reliance on God. This way, we even when we do not understand why things are happening to us, we will have the strength to recognize that God is running the world, and that God knows what He is doing.

By Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber

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