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What is the Purim Story and What Does It Tell Us?

Those of you who know me know that I am a Christian. So why will I write about this holiday not of my culture or religion? Because the lesson is important. And you asked for it. Two weeks ago, people said they wanted to hear about spirituality. So here I am, doing as you have asked.

Queen Esther was married to a king – Ahashverosh.  She was Jewish; the king did not know that.

Esther learned that Haman, who worked for the king, was plotting to kill all the Jews.  She summoned the courage to tell the king about Haman’s evil plan and that she herself was Jewish, and thereby saved her people.

To celebrate Purim, we can:

  • Listen to the Purim story, The Book of Esther (Megillat Esther)
  • Eat a festive meal.
  • Give gifts of food to friends (mishloach manot)
  • Give support to those in need (matanot l’evyonim) and to charity (tzedakah)

But there is more to what Purim teaches us. It has taught me a great deal about how God will work in my life. Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin wrote, “Purim teaches us that God will no longer intervene for us and save us, at least not obviously and supernaturally…it says that God will be hidden but not distant, silent but not inactive.  God will work through us in our daily lives. And any one of us, every one of us, can become the instrument of God, for good and not for evil, for life and not for death.” Since we are created in God’s image, we are partners with God in controlling our own fate. While there are some things that ultimately are out of our control, we play a role in determining the direction of our lives as individuals and as a community. With this comes a responsibility to be active voices in our families and our community and advocate for the values that we hold dear.  This is one powerful message and says a great deal about how our lives are to be lived.

Perhaps the main message of Purim, is that we must reveal that which is hidden in our midst. We must make sure that we do not overlook those in want in our communities.  In this way, we can help to reveal the hidden presence of God by recognizing the spark of the divine that exists in all of us, by affirming the sanctity of each and every person.

This Purim, I encourage you to pay attention to those who have been hidden from you. Who is in need that you haven’t noticed – in your immediate community, in the greater Jewish and /or Christian community, in the global community? How can you reveal those who are hidden to yourself, and to others? How can you make their needs known, and draw in those who are marginalized?

May we all fulfill the specific commandments of Purim – listening to the stories, giving food, and giving support to those who need help, and may we do so in a way that also fulfills the spirit of revealing that which is hidden.

Blessings to you,


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