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Purim in the Spring
by Rabbi Heschel Greenberg

The miracle of Purim came about through Esther, the Jewish queen, who bravely approached the king to plead on behalf of her people. The Midrash states, “Before he knew that she was Jewish he spoke to her through an interpreter. Once he discovered that she was Jewish he began to communicate with her [directly].”

Why did Achashverosh become closer to his wife when he found out she was Jewish? Furthermore, why would he not speak directly to his queen before her disclosure?

**

When a Jew tries to hide his or her Jewishness, the non-Jew senses that there is something amiss. A Jew who is a product of exile conditions is a walking contradiction. On the outside he or she is like everyone else, but on the inside he or she is a Jew. Achashverosh sensed contradiction and tension in Esther and could not communicate directly.

Only after Esther shed her facade and fully revealed her Jewish identity did he feel comfortable communicating directly to her.

The question arises, though. Why do we ourselves not feel conflicted when we live a dual life?

Exile has been likened to a dream, a state of mind that allows opposites to coexist. The dreamer does not feels the conflict, and is not even aware of the contradiction. An outsider granted the ability to watch another’s dreams would be baffled at the inconsistencies that he would observe.

On a deeper level, the reference to King Achashverosh and Queen Esther is a metaphor for G-d and the Jewish nation, respectively. The Midrash dissects the name Achashverosh into three words, “Acharis v’reishis shelo” -- the end and the beginning are His, which applies to G-d.

G-d also has two ways of communicating with us. In times of exile, he speaks to us through an “interpreter.” We do not receive direct commands from Him, but we must find Him hinted in nature and in Divine Providence.

The Book of Esther is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The entire Purim saga occurred when the Jewish people began to lose their own Jewish pride by participating in a lengthy, orgiastic celebration designed to humiliate the Jewish people. As our Sages teach, Achashverosh threw this huge party when he felt confident that the Jewish hope for the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash had been dashed. When we lack self-respect, G-d, too, uses indirect means to communicate with us. The Jewish community was shrouded in misery and confusion in the days of Esther.

However, when a Jew demonstrates his or her “chosen”ness, G-d (King Achashverosh) speaks to us directly. We see miracles and we have an open relationship with Him. When Queen Esther finally divulged her true identity, the Heavenly King (just as the human monarch Achashverosh) changed His whole attitude towards the Jewish people.

As we stand on the causeway that links us to the future period of Geulah, we are witness to two related phenomena: On the one hand there are many Jews who —due to no fault of their own— are slumbering. They are the casualties of galus and we must do our part to save them from being lost to the Jewish people. On the other hand, our generation has been exposed to unprecedented miracles, where G-d’s “hand” is clearly visible, and we have begun to see G-d communicating to us directly.

Accordingly, we have a dual responsibility. While we cannot forget those whose Jewish identities are suppressed, we must also recognize, focus on and celebrate the new revelations of G-dliness in the world. We must, as the Rebbe exhorted us, “open our eyes” to the new realities and share this with those whose vision is still clouded by galus lenses. This is a sure way to getting rid of the remaining vestiges of negativity in the world.
 

 


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