G-d's Disappearing Act

Friday, 28 February, 2014 - 12:22 pm

The Levy twins, Mike and Danny, were the worst behaved kids in Hebrew School. One day, after they were sent to the Rabbi’s office for the hundredth time, he decided to put the “fear of G-d into them.” He calls Mike in and in a booming voice asks, “Where is G-d?” Mike just stared at him in a fearful manner. After a few moments of silence the Rabbis says, “Go call Danny and tell him to come in.” Mike runs outside and says to Danny, “Oh boy, now we are really in trouble. G-d is missing and they think we stole Him.”

Purim is just two weeks away. In the book of Esther G-d pulls an actual disappearing act. His name is not mentioned once during the entire story. For a book of scripture that is almost scandalous. The commentators explain, that the miracle of Purim was orchestrated by the hidden Hand of Hashem in a way that is had a naturally developing feel to it. A Jewish queen, the Rabbi saved the king’s life years before, Haman’s ego getting too big for the king’s taste. Each of these phenomena can be written off as natural or coincidental. One has to look beyond the surface to behold the hidden Hand of G-d directing the play.

Chassidic teachings take this to the next level. The reason why Hashem’s name is absent from the Megillah is because the G-dliness manifest in the Purim miracle is one that transcends the level of a name, even the name of Hashem. Names are very important and are often indicative of the nature of that which bears the name. However, after all said and done, a name is only needed when relating to something outside of self. A name is needed so that another person can call me or address a matter relating to me. For myself I don’t need a name. To myself I am just me.

We find this in the opening word of the Ten Commandments. Anochi – I am the L-rd your G-d. G-d relates to the Jewish people with His very essence – Anochi. The miracle of Purim came from such a lofty place that no name of Hashem could be applied to describe it. Hence the absence of any name of G-d from the book of Esther. Yet this “disappearing act” actually represents a greater and deeper presence of Hashem than any other book of Tanach. This is why Purim is such a unique holiday with such unique customs. Our relationship with Hashem on Purim is deeper than any other time of the year. Let us make sure that we make the most of it!

I want to take a moment to talk about our brethren in Ukraine. One of my colleagues from Kharkov sent us an update and things are very tough there right now. Due to the tense and volatile situation in the Ukraine the past few weeks, the Ukrainian Jewish population is living in a state of real fear. The Jewish communities there are in urgent need of independently hired security, armed guards, as well as humanitarian aid. Today more than ever they need our generous support. Your tax free donation can be made here: May G-d protect the people of Ukraine and throughout the world, and may we soon enter the era of global peace and harmony, when "One nation shall not lift a sword against another, and art of warfare will no longer be taught.”

Our heartfelt sympathies are with Lou and Nanette Furman upon the passing of his mother, Mrs. Esther Furman. Esther was just a few months short of her 100th birthday, a moment for which she planning at the time of her passing. I had the pleasure of meeting her once on a visit to New Orleans for the high-holidays. The Torah describes Avraham before his passing as being old and getting along in days. The Zohar interprets this as “every day was full and purposeful.” Mrs. Furman definitely lived up to this. She made the most of her years and days and left a wonderful legacy for her family.

Our condolences to Harry and Tova Borowski upon the passing of his grandmother.

Mazel tov to my parents, Rabbi Zelig and Bluma Rivkin upon the birth of a grandson to Devorah Leah and Meir Chaim Posner.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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