Purim = costumes, parties, alcohol, triangular cookies, candies
Well, yes and no. It’s easy to forget that there might be a deeper meaning to Purim.
For more on Purim in Israel, you can read last year’s post.
Things that make you go hmm
One of the (many) interesting things about Purim is that the story is one of the books of the Bible, but God isn’t mentioned anywhere. Traditionally, Jews read the story of Esther aloud in community events, loudly boo when the villain is mentioned, and yet somehow God got left out of the manuscript.
Here’s a 5-minute video review of the story:
Skeptics might say that the story is just a well-written, cleverly plotted piece of historical fiction about a girl who becomes queen and it puts her in a position to save the Jews. Like any good book, movie, or drama, plot points occur at just the right time to have a dramatic payoff later.
Some people would say that this story is a recounting of Jewish history in Persia. In this group, you might have your atheists and agnostics who will write the story off as a series of coincidences. In the chaos that is our real life, coincidences happen all the time and we don’t even notice them.
Accepting that there are some things in the world that are unexplainable might allow another group of people to look at the Purim story as “synchronicity” – a series of meaningful coincidences that link events together. Mordechai annoyed Haman and it just so happened that the night before Haman was going to talk to the king about this pest Mordechai, the king couldn’t sleep and just so happened to open his history book to the time when Mordechai just so happened to hear about a plot to kill the king and saved him.
And then there is the third group who see the hidden hand of God in history, nudging events to put people in particular places, but still allowing them to use their free will. This is a different God than the God of Genesis who’s in everyone’s business all the time.
I think the message of Purim reaches out to all three groups.
To our skeptical atheists and agnostics: Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t matter how you got there, choose to do something.
To our people who accept the unexplainable: A complicated series of events drew you to a particular place and time. Choose to act and follow the path.
To our believers: Even when it seems like He’s hidden, God is everywhere. You were chosen to be in a certain place at a certain time. Choose to accept your role and fulfill your destiny.
Whichever group you belong to,