Guest Writer – Rivka Conway – The Mystique of Purim – A Miracle Unmasked

Miracle; noun a miracle is defined by the Oxford dictionary as an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and therefore attributed to a divine agency.

Most of us go about our usual business unappreciative or even unaware of the daily miracles that occur to make life easier and smooth. They are there bubbling beneath the surface, and occasionally – just occasionally something – a baby born, or just the weather; in all its glory and scenery or even just the regular function of our body, are really all being orchestrated by an Unseen Hand Up Above.

This will make us stop and think, remarking – ‘this truly is a miracle a neis’. The word neis strictly means a ‘banner’ meaning it’s a banner to the world when nissim -miracles happen.

It is through these nissim that we learn how the world functions in the most miraculous of ways. From animals to technology, it’s all proof to Heavenly Footprints that we humans could not ever duplicate. Studies of nature and other subjects establish this; bringing proof of a one and only Creator.

Close exploration and explanation of our planet and indeed the solar system leave us no room for us to doubt the existence of God, yet He chooses to hide Himself within nature. The gematria, Hebrew calculation of the Hebrew word teva meaning nature, is 86 the same number as the word elokim, God.

This proves the presence of God within nature. Indeed, Judaism has blessings for many different types of phenomena such as a rainbow or unusual people.

But how appreciative are we of daily miracles? Until something goes wrong or something out of the ordinary happens, we could just attribute it to ‘mere coincidence’.

The story of Purim is one of hidden miracles, victory over the oppressor. God, behind the scenes, brought success for the Jewish people over Haman’s evil plot to kill all the Jews. All this happens through our heroine – Esther’s self-sacrifice for her people – and her uncle Mordechai, yet God’s name isn’t mentioned once in the Megillah.

All these events were brought about by the One Above unseen ‘as a seemly mere coincidence’. As believing Jews we know of course that there are no ‘mere coincidences’- however hidden.

Now we can understand why Purim is the festive holiday of ‘hidden behind the masks’ as the miracles were hidden even though they were obviously brought about by the Almighty. Just like each and every day natural events conceal God’s presence so too the name of Hashem is totally hidden in the Megillah.

There is a famous story of someone; let us call him ‘Chaim Yankel’ who had an enlightening dream where he saw two footprints imprinted in the sand by the seashore. He then saw that the footprints faded out to one set as he carried on. It is understood that the two footprints were Hashem walking side by side with Yankel.

But what happened to the second set of footprints? There, God as if ‘invisible’ was carrying Yankel through the hardest periods of his life, a ‘hidden miracle.’

If we delve deeper into the details of this topic of ‘Divine miracles’ it seems that even the normal ‘everyday’ events are miracles even if they are hidden.  Miracles, such orchestrated in an ‘unseen’ way are still miracles even if they are less ‘open or explicit’. To expound further on this topic; the message of Purim elaborated, is that there really isn’t anything ‘natural about nature’ at all but it is simply to say merely G-d’s way of ‘concealing’ Himself in this world.

Indeed, in the Amidah that we pray three times a day, we say and thank God in Modim, the Thanksgiving tefilla, a testament to God’s faith and blessings that always envelope us. It says, ‘for Your miracles that are with us every day’. Nachmananides explains further the difference between a ’hidden’ and a ‘revealed’ miracle. Revealed miracles occur outside of nature, whilst hidden miracles happen within it. Part of our Jewish tradition is to see God not only present in signs and wonders but hidden in everyday events; to see miracles within the very universe that govern the laws of nature.

On reflection; I suppose one of the ways to appreciate the miracles in our lives hidden or otherwise is to start a miracle diary of all the major and minor miracles that happen over the course of months or even years. Try it and let me know how you get on.

My own experience and existence alone has proved miraculous from a tiny preemie to recovering from cancer a short while ago. Let’s see what you can come up with, it will certainly give you an enhanced appreciation of the miracles of life.

From a simple miracle; being in the right place at the right time to more complicated health miracle or otherwise. It’s all controlled by the One Above who enables us to make a tiny movement and even more. However ‘hidden’ or ‘revealed’ big or small it’s up to us to appreciate and thank Him for His constant kindness towards us.

Purim is a day of rejoicing where hidden miracles came to the fore, making us appreciative of the bigger or indeed any other miracles in our lives. The mitzvas of the day include, hearing every single word of the Megillah, Matanat leavyonim, Mishloach manot and Mishteh.

Some have the custom to dress up, a symbol of the hidden quality of Purim’s miracles – ‘behind masks.’

These awaken us to the miraculous nature of Purim where miracles occurred within nature bringing us to appreciate the wider picture of miracles itself.

Let us think for a moment – back to the topic of disguises and masks. There are many times in our lives where Hashem acts hiddenly as if in disguise, but it is our job to look behind the scenes – ‘the masks’ as we see God at work and recognize Divine Providence – miracles to the world. From miraculous occurrences to seemly simple events one comes to conclude that there is no such thing as coincidence, nothing is by chance, but rather a ‘miracle unmasked’!

Rivka Conway is an emerging writer that has written nationally and internationally. She is also currently writing a book “Dispelling The Clouds” about her brain tumor battle.