Wednesday, February 25, 2015

466 - Purim

In the midst of a war, government officials often need to relay messages to a confidant planted in enemy territory. One of the tactics used to accomplish such a feat is to send him a letter which, superficially seems to convey nothing more than a friendly hello, while in fact it contains top-secret information. Only a trained eye has the ability to decipher the letter's subtle implications.

Divine Providence is the spiritual manifestation of this allegorical secret letter. The Ramban (Parshas Bo) writes that Hashem's interaction with the Jewish people is in essence a continuous series of miracles; albeit hidden ones. The fact that it rains if we perform His mitzvos or a person dies early as a result of transgressing one of His precepts, is in reality a wonder no less awe-inspiring than an outright miracle. However, these "miracles" are all hidden and masterfully woven into the tapestry of nature, making them hard to discern to the untrained eye. The Jewish People were the ones given the ability to decipher the true intent behind the seemingly unrelated events occurring throughout the world. 

Accordingly, the pasuk (Tehillim 60:6) which states, "You have given those who fear You "neis l'hisnoseis" a banner to be raised high," can be explained differently: "You have performed for Bnei Yisrael miracles in order to elevate them." Every time we decode a miracle concealed behind the fa├žade of nature, we literally sense Hashem talking to us. The feeling of such a relationship with the Creator has the ability to elevate a person to great spiritual levels.

Chazal tell us (Shabbos 88a) that although Bnei YIsrael were to some extent forced into accepting the Torah by Har Sinai, nevertheless, they willingly accepted the Torah upon themselves during the reign of Achashveirosh. Rashi explains that their willingness to accept the Torah was prompted by, "The love of the miracle performed for them." While most would have explained that their salvation from death is what triggered their willful acceptance, Rashi emphasizes an aspect which is tangential to the actual salvation. They not only rejoiced in their salvation; they had a great love for the miracle itself, and that is what brought them to accept Hashem's yoke. While the chain of events spanning nine years seemed to be nothing more than random unrelated occurrences, the Jewish people successfully deciphered Hashem's handwriting and connected the dots. They acknowledged the miracle and recognized that despite the prevailing hester panim, Hashem was clearly communicating with them. This elevated them to such a great extent that they willingly accepted Hashem's commandments.

Furthermore, Bnei Yisrael were condemned because they indulged in Achashveirosh's party. They forgot their inherent importance and they disregarded the very essence of the Jewish Nation which is one that "dwells in solitude" and which due to their nobility they do not mingle with the other nations. By way of a hidden miracle, Hashem also made them cognizant of their greatness. They are the "shoshanas Yaakov" - by way of their middos tovos they are compared to a rose which is the most gorgeous looking and beautiful smelling flower. (Da'as Shlomo)

By paying attention to the hidden miracles that abound, one can distinguish the hand of Hashem. Moreover, every year on Purim, Hashem reignites the spiritual spark that radiated in the time of the miracle, thereby allowing for all future generations to tap into the spiritual wellsprings experienced by our forefathers. Thus, Purim is a once a year opportunity given to us to acknowledge and appreciate our unique connection to Hashem and our own inherent greatness and spiritual beauty. Focusing on these ideas will elevate a person for a long time after the wine wears off!

A Freilichin Purim!

No comments: