Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The story of Purim contained in the scroll-megillah-of Esther is considered by scholars as not entirely historical; as a matter of fact, most serious students of the Bible understand this work as an expression of the Jewish people's perception of its precariousness in exile and the relief provided by the miraculous turn of events that conferred defeat upon Israel's enemies and victory for the Jewish people. The story is entertaining, melodramatic, suspenseful and illuminating ,all at the same time.
Perhaps its lesson can be extracted from the theme of unpredictability and reversal as a natural part of life's unfolding.
If we examine each character in the story-Haman the villain, Mordechai and Esther,the hero and heroine respectively, the larger background cast of players-the Jews of Persia, we discover how the end of the story marks a total reversal of each one's status from the story's beginning.At the outset, Haman is elevated in rank. At the conclusion he is ironically elevated as he swings from the gallows fifty cubits high; Mordechai and Esther are anonymous Jews in exile; by the end of the Megillah they are celebrities; the Jewish people finds itself as victim in the throes of imminent catastrophe as the narrative unravels; they are victors and celebrants at the story's close.
Is life not like this? Witness today's economic realities; only a short while ago, affluence was certain and growing; homes skyrocketed in value, the stock market's gains only burgeoned in size and third world economies were exploding with prosperity.
Today, the world economy is in the doldrums; amidst confusion, anger and fear, we find ourselves victims of phenomena over which we had no control and of which few had any understanding .
The story of Purim and today's world coincide to inform us painfully and dramatically that life is indeed invariably a process of ups and downs, reversals and changes.
Perhaps if we were to consider Purim's message more carefully , we would be more inclined to prepare and protect ourselves against upheavals that occur as a natural component of the workings of the natural world.
Awareness of this unpredictability could cushion us emotionally and spiritually so that at the end of the day we could have the strength and the hope to recognize that the gifts of "Light, joy, gladness and honor" is a God-given gift in all the circumstance of our existence.
Purim thus reminds us to be thankful for this understanding and awareness.
Happy Purim

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