PurimBurst, 1991 / 5751
Sarah Yehudit Schneider

Based on a teaching by R. Mordechai Yosef of Ishbitz[1]

“He has remembered his mercy and faithfulness to the house of Israel, all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of the Lord” (Psalms 98:3).  Because it uses the word “seen” instead of “heard”, Rebbe Yochanan  relates this verse to the days of Mordechai and Esther. (Meg 11b).

The miracle of Purim is qualitatively different from all other miracles in Biblical history.  The common theme to all miracles is that G‑d makes His Presence unequivocally known through that event.  Thus it says, “You are a G‑d that does wonders.  You declare Your strength among the nations”.[2]  In the moment of miracle, the nethermost extremes of physicality must admit the truth of G‑d.  The outer, physical senses witness the Almighty’s hand, and all the doubters in the world must confront the fact of His existence.

Yet in all the miracles before Purim, HaShem disrupted nature.  The sea parted, the sun stood still[3], the mountain of Sinai was smoking[4], the manna fell from the heavens[5], the water gushed from a rock[6].  In each instance, when the miracle ceased, nature was restored.  The memory of the miracle and the spreading of its news could only happen through word of mouth.  All evidence was gone.  The sea now looks like any sea, Sinai like any mountain[7].  For this reason the language of speech (instead of sight) is used in this second verse, as it says, “HaShem declares His strength.”

The miracle of Purim is different.  The veil lifted. HaShem revealed that nature itself is nothing but an instrument for His conscious and compelling desire to bestow good.  The most mundane level of existence became miracle on Purim in the sense that HaShem made His Presence known through the ordinary.

In the Purim story each event, in itself, was no wonder at all.  That the king threw a feast, that his queen found disfavor, that Esther won the beauty contest, that Haman was promoted, that he hated Mordochai and sought to destroy the Jews, that the king couldn’t sleep . . . all this was totally within the course and bounds of nature.  The whole wonder of the story of Esther and Purim was that the underlying design, though absolutely hidden was crystal clear.  By the end, no one could deny that it was the Hand-of-G‑d inside the glove of nature that had brought redemption.  The mundane level of existence became miracle on Purim for HaShem made His Presence visible through the ordinary.

On Purim the fact that nature itself is miraculous was revealed.  The world will never be the same.  The evidence remains before us.  Each and every instant of each and every day we can see that nature is not blind.  “All the ends of the earth have seen [and forevermore will continue to see] the salvation of the Lord.”  It is not something we must hear and accept on faith.  It is happening now before our very eyes.

Tradition teaches that the end of days will be marked by constant revealed miracles. [8] Most say they will not be of the sea-parting type but of the Purim story type.[9]  In other words, we will all be writing our own Book of Esther, or Book of Susie, or Book of you and me.  Our spiritual vision will be so clear that we will see every circumstance of our lives as a revealed miracle.  Look at your life and the lives around you.  It is happening now.  You are a miracle in the making.  [10]נהפוך הוא—Everything will turn upside down.  As surely as Haman was hung on the gallows, so all your pain will be turned to joy and everlasting bliss.

[1] R. Mordecai Yosef Lainer of Ishbitz (The Mei HaShiloach), Likutei HaShas, Mesechet Megilla, 11.

[2] Psalms 77:15.

[3] Rashi on Exodus 17 (7):12.

[4] Exodus 19:16-25.

[5] Exodus 16:13-27.

[6] Exodus 17:6.

[7] Tanna d’bi Eliyahu Zuta, 19.

[8] Bereshit Rabba 95:1.  TB Shabbat 30b; TY Sanhedrin 10:1; TY Shekalim 6:2; Avodath HaKodesh 2:38; Sheni Luchot HaBrit, Beit David 1:32a.

[9] Rambam, Mishna Torah, The Laws of Kings 12:2.

[10] Esther 9:1, 9:22.199

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