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Purim

Purim

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Lots to determine fate of a people

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 GABE DICKENS/P-R PHOTO
 Rabbi Avrohom Rimler reads the Megillah, which contains the biblical narrative of the book of Esther, during a Purim festival Thursday evening at the Chabad of Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH — Purim is printed in the calendrical block of the first Wednesday of March this year.

The Hebrew word means “lots” and is a pivotal marker for a series of events in the 4th century BCE.

The Chabad of Plattsburgh celebrated Purim starting Wednesday at sundown and Thursday as did observant Jews globally.

It is a joyous holiday created to commemorate the survival of the Jews and triumph of God’s hidden intervention during the reign of Queen Esther, the wife of King Ahasuerus of Persia.

Rabbi Avrohom Rimler read the Megillah Esther, “the Hebrew name of the biblical book that chronicles the events of the holiday contains the secret of Purim Power,” according to Rimler.

“‘Esther’ means concealment, that hidden, nameless level of divinity beyond our ken,” Rimler writes. “‘Megillah’ has the opposite meaning, revelation. Put the two together and you get the paradoxical reality of Jewish life — mission impossible, yet getting it done — revealing the essence of G‑d in the workaday world.”

The Scroll of Esther reveals a three-fold love story. It’s a story of a king’s love for his queen. It’s the story of the queen’s love for her people. Ultimately, it’s God’s love for his people but nowhere is God’s name mentioned in the book. God’s divine will is revealed through the events put into motion by Vashti, the king’s first wife, whose refusal to submit to his wishes led to her exile or execution.

Vashti’s defiance launched a search for a new, beautiful replacement for the lonely king who chose Esther, who did not reveal her true identity on the wisdom of her Uncle Mordechai, who raised her.

During Purim, Jews wear masks and costumes.

“To hide ourselves,” Rimler said. “The Megillah of Esther is the only book of the Torah that doesn’t have the name of God in, which is quite strange. It’s because God was hidden in the story of Purim. We hide ourselves because even when God is hidden, he’s the one working behind the scenes.”

PREVENTING A KING’S DEATH

Mordechai happened to be in the right place at the right time to overhear an assassination plot against the king by two of his chamberlains.

In a crucial moment of the story, King Ahasuerus commanded Prime Minister Haman to pay tribute to Mordechai for foiling the assassination plot.

The twist was the anti-Semetic Haman hated Mordechai for his refusal to bow before him.

LOTS

Haman also concocted a campaign to execute all Jews on the 13th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. He chose the day by casting lots, hence Purim.

Mordechai learns of Haman’s sinister plot, and pleads with Queen Esther to seek King Ahasuerus’s intervention.

She requests the Jews to fast for three days, after which she would approach King Ahasuerus, a risky move that could be deathly because he had not summoned her.
Queen Esther prepared two feasts for King Ahasuerus and Haman. During the second feast, she reveals Haman’s evil hand.
During the reading of the Megillah Esther, whenever Rimler read Haman’s name disruption ensued.
“We take those noisemakers and stamp our feet,” he said. “His name is drowned out with noisemakers called graggers to stamp out his name because he was an evil man.”
PURIM MESSAGE
In Rimler’s message below, he does not write out the name of God.
“God’s name is holy,” he said. “We don’t write his name out and throw it away on a piece of paper.”
Rimler said there are miracles and there are miracles.
“To me, the message of Purim is: There’s nothing natural about nature. Random processes are really anything but, and nature is just G‑d’s way of managing the details without showing off. We live our lives as if events are disconnected, as if G‑d is passively watching, maybe keeping score somewhere up above Cloud 9, while we are bouncing around in the ‘real’ world on the pinball game of life, hoping not to fall between the flippers. That’s not what’s happening.

“In reality, life is a constant dialog with G‑d. Every little event is part of an interactive master plan that has its own goal and logic, yet responds to our every move, subtly adjusting a world of outcomes in accordance with the quality of our deeds.

“This level of divine action is even greater than the hair-raising, sea-splitting interventions of a hit-and-run nature. It is more subtle, diverse and pervasive than a capital M Miracle. And it leaves us with our free choice to believe or not, to achieve or not. No Big G presence breathing down someone’s neck saying ‘Or Else!’

“This answers our question. Purim Power is a divine quality that is so exalted it defies definition in any name. Just like we can’t put our finger on the miracle, we can’t put our finger on the Divine quality that makes it happen.”

 By Robin Caudell, Press-Republican Email: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com Twitter@RobinCaudell | Email Robin Caudell: rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

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