The Miracle of Purim: A Divine Tale in Disguise

On this day in Jewish history, Adar 13-14, 3405, the incredible story of Purim unfolds, a narrative that takes place between the destruction of the First Temple and the rebuilding of the Second (369-355 BCE). The events chronicled in Megillah Esther lead directly to the re-establishment of an independent Judea and the return of the Jewish exiles to the Land of Israel.

A Royal Drama Unfolds

The story of Purim begins with King Achashveirosh hosting a lavish party that lasts several weeks. During the festivities, the king demands that his wife, Vashti, present herself naked before the guests. She refuses, and the king is advised to kill her to prevent setting a bad example for the kingdom. With Vashti gone, Achashveirosh needs a new queen, and after a beauty contest, he falls in love with a young Jewish girl named Hadassah, better known as Esther.

Esther’s Secret Identity and the Evil Haman

Esther’s cousin, Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish community in exile, reluctantly allows her to become queen while reminding her to keep her true identity hidden from the king. Inside, Mordechai knows there is a divine purpose behind Esther’s new role. Soon after, Haman, one of the king’s advisors, is promoted to a high rank and gains the authority to pass decrees. Outraged by Mordechai’s refusal to bow down to him, Haman devises a plan to annihilate the Jewish people.

The Decree and Esther’s Bravery

Upon learning about the decree, Mordechai urges Esther to speak to the king and save her people. Despite the risks, Esther agrees and asks Mordechai to have the Jews fast and pray for three days. Afterward, she courageously approaches the king, who is pleased to see her. Esther invites the king and Haman to a dinner party, where she will make her request.

The Fall of Haman and the Celebration of Purim

At the second dinner, Esther reveals her true identity and exposes Haman’s plot to kill her and her people. The king is enraged and has Haman hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordechai. Mordechai becomes viceroy, and together with Esther, they issue a new decree allowing the Jews to defend themselves on the 13th of Adar. The Jews successfully defend themselves, and the following day, the 14th, is marked with celebration. Thus, the holiday of Purim, meaning “lots,” is established.

Hidden Miracles and the Purpose of Purim

Though the story of Purim is filled with divine intervention, G-d’s name is never mentioned. This teaches us that in exile, G-d interacts with us through hidden means, and it is our responsibility to seek and establish a connection with Him. The miracles that occur in our lives may not be as obvious as the parting of the sea, but they are no less significant.

Customs and Laws of Purim

To commemorate Purim, we fast on the 13th of Adar, listen to the Megillah reading twice (once on the night of the 13th and once during the day on the 14th), give each other presents (Mishloach Manot), donate to the poor (Matanot Levyonim), and celebrate with a festive meal (Seudah). Those of age are encouraged to drink alcohol in moderation as a way to enhance the festive spirit. We also dress differently than usual, reflecting the nature of the Purim story where things were turned upside down.


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