It is the night of Purim, as I sit down to share my weekly thoughts.
My mind wanders to exactly a year ago, when the seeds of fear for the dreaded pandemic were first sown. We withheld somewhat from any direct contact with one another, but more or less Purim was celebrated similar enough to what would be considered a normal Purim.
A year later, many of us have lost those we shared so many glorious Purims together over our lifetimes. Whether a beloved parent, a spouse, a cherished Rebbe, or a dear friend who are now just memories of happier times.
Our lives have been disrupted in a way never experienced before. Illness, death, and financial struggle are part of the cycle of challenge we endure during our lives, but the unchartered territory of an unknown and unpredictable enemy, and its impact on our families’ normal daily routines, has upset all our previous notions of what is normal in life.
Yet, for the most part we are still here, learning to survive and perhaps even thrive, adapting to the new realities we are still facing.
Part of our frustration stems from the roller coaster of emotions we face that rise with hope, and often then dive steeply into the unknown. When, we wonder, will it all resolve?
The lesson in the story of Esther, is about the hidden hand that directs that which seems so random.
The verse that foretells of a time when G-d will conceal himself from His children, ואנכי הסתר אסתיר פני — I will surely have concealed My face, alludes to אסתר, whose very name intimates something hidden.
This verse follows an earlier reference that speaks of His concealing His face in allowing much evil and distress to befall the nation, prodding the nation to regret their errant ways, and confess their guilt when they exclaim, “Is it not because my G-d is not in my midst that these evils have come upon us.”
The Ramban understands the Torah to be reporting that they truly regretted their behavior. Nevertheless, their mission had not been accomplished, as G-d would no longer have to conceal his ‘face of mercy’ as He earlier had but would now conceal the ‘face of redemption’.
Rav Wolbe explains this to mean, that we would not have to endure distress as much as face the challenge of dashed hopes. We would go from thrilling moments of longed for redemption to dashed hopes and disappointment.
If we have regretted our failures and repented why the need to hide further?
Only someone who finds happiness in His service even during the ‘dips’ and the ‘valleys’ of life, will never become stale and stagnant, and vulnerable to lapses of consciousness, succumbing to despair.
The nation rationalized all sorts of halachic compromises in dealing with the political realities of their days. They had lost their enthusiasm, even while they remained committed to Torah and its precepts.
They would come to realize their error, renewing their spirit to serve with joy and enthusiasm, knowing that only equipped with that excitement could they survive the long rock road ahead.
The famed Rav Meir Shapiro directs us to the verse immediately following this allusion to Esther and her times, that commands us to, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the Children of Israel... , the command to write a Sefer Torah.
It is no coincidence, since the Megillah is the story that teaches us not only how to write one but how to sing its message in joyous song.
The Talmud states that קריאתה זו הלולא, the reading of Megilla is the fulfillment of reading Hallel, singing His praise.
Whereas on other holidays we recite the formal Hallel, on Purim we infuse it into the Torah itself. We enthuse it with the joy and privilege of serving Hashem.
My dear friend, Dr. Edo Lavi, was offering me condolence yesterday over the loss of my mother a’h, and commented how with this past year and all its experiences, we each all have a unique, Megillah — story to tell.
Indeed, we each have a journey we have traveled, fine tuning the instruments that play exquisite music — our souls, as we conquer each challenge with purpose and a renewed closeness to Hashem, to ourselves, and to others.
May each of our ‘stories’ generate an exquisite symphony of joy, as we await that final day of redemption.
צבי יהודה טייכמאן