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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 25, 2005 / 14 Adar II, 5765

Purim: Secrets behind the holiday mask

By Rabbi David Aaron


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Purim celebrates the salvation of the Jews from the wicked Haman's scheme to exterminate all the Jewish men, women, and children living in the Persian empire in the year 357 B.C.E., which essentially meant all the Jews in the world. Some of the commandments of Purim, such as hearing Megillas Esther, which recounts the Purim story, and enjoying a festive meal, are obvious ways to commemorate this deliverance.


Other commandments and customs have no apparent connection to what happened on Purim. Why are we required to give charity to the poor, send two food items to a friend, and get so drunk that we do not know the difference between Haman, the villain, and Mordechai, the righteous hero of the story? (This last commandment, I understand, is very rigorously kept in college dorms all year round.)


What is behind the customs to dress up in costume and to eat hamentaschen, delicious, sweet tarts named literally, "Haman's hat"? In Hebrew, the tarts are called "Haman's ears." Imagine that you didn't know that much about Jewish culinary customs and you walk into a bakery before Purim, and the Chassidic guy in front of you orders, "a dozen of Haman's ears." Over the counter they hand him something with black stuff in the middle, which he gives to his little children. And the kids munch away happily, saying, "I love these Haman's ears." Doesn't that sound sick? Why would anyone want to eat a part of the cruel anti-Semite Haman?


The scroll of Esther, the Purim story, in Hebrew is called, "Megillas Esther." "Megillah" comes from the root word meaning, "revelation." The name Esther is related to the Hebrew word for hiddenness. So Megillas Esther suggests "the revelation of hiddenness."


The hiddenness that is revealed on Purim is the hiddenness of G-d's oneness. You see, the oneness of G-d is such that G-d can create a being who has free choice, yet, mysteriously, that free choice cannot oppose G-d's will and plan. It can do other than G-d's will, but it won't in any way interfere with G-d's will and plan.


We see this paradox illustrated throughout the events of the Purim story. The Jews of the Persian Empire are assimilating. The evil Haman decides to destroy the Jewish people, and proceeds to execute his plot, making his moves toward the final solution of the Jews. The irony of the story is that everything he does to destroy us, destroys him-and saves us. By threatening our existence, Haman indirectly initiates a renewal in the Jews' commitment to Torah, reversing the tide of assimilation that is always the greatest threat to Jewish survival. And Haman digs his own grave, or more accurately, builds his own gallows, for the gallows he had built to hang Mordechai are used for Haman's own execution.


In the Purim story, there are no miraculous interventions, no sea splitting. In fact, G-d's name is not even mentioned in the Book of Esther. This is a tremendous revelation of G-d's oneness. The greatest revelation of G-d's oneness is that G-d does not have to interfere. This is the revelation of hiddenness: that within the natural world, within the free choices of human beings, G-d's plan is being completely fulfilled, step by step.


G-d has written a script, and we are the actors in that drama. The question isn't whether we are going to play our parts, but how we will play our parts-whether consciously and willingly, or obliviously and with resistance. Whether we choose to work for G-d's plan of growth, love, and oneness, or against it, is our choice.


Again, we see this illustrated dramatically in the story of Esther. Esther, who is secretly Jewish, has by a strange set of circumstances married the King of Persia. (Sounds like fate at work?) But soon after, Haman the Prime Minister begins to execute his plot to destroy the Jewish people. So Mordechai, Esther's uncle, says to her: "We've got to save the Jewish people. Perhaps G-d has orchestrated things in this very manner so that you could be queen and in a position to save the Jewish people."


But Esther isn't convinced. She tells Mordechai, "You know the rules of the palace. If I go to the king without being invited, he could have me killed!"


To that Mordechai says something bizarre: "If you don't do this, Esther, the salvation of the Jews will come from someplace else."


What kind of argument is that? I mean, if you want to get somebody to do something what method do you use? Guilt! Mordechai should have said to Esther, "If you don't do it, the Jewish people will be destroyed. This will be the end of Jewish history."


Instead he says, "If you don't do it, the Jews will be saved anyway, but you'll lose out on the starring role."


Mordechai was teaching Esther the secret of choice: In terms of G-d's great plan, it doesn't make a difference what you do. But in terms of your own life, it makes all the difference in the world. Do you want to actively, consciously participate in G-d's plan, or not? If you don't sign on, it will still happen. But you'll lose out. You can be the star, or an extra on the set. That's your choice.


And Esther decides to do it. The Jewish people are saved, with Esther in the starring role, because she chose to play her part.


On Purim we try to get to a drunken state where we don't perceive a difference between "Blessed Mordechai" and "Cursed Haman." In gematria, the numerical equivalent of each phrase is the same: 502. In what way is the evil Haman equal to the righteous Mordechai? Because they both serve the Divine plan, Haman, with all his foul machinations, initiated the process of repentance which saved the Jewish people from assimilation and eventually made them worthy to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Temple. Now you'll understand why the sweet treat of the holiday is "Haman's ears." Because that bitter, destructive man turned out to be the source of sweetness and nourishment for Jewish survival.


That's Haman's greatest punishment: to realize that he saved the Jewish people. The Talmud teaches that G-d's praise comes out of Gehenom (hell) as it comes out of Gan Eden (paradise). In other words, the evil ones also end up serving G-d's plan, albeit against their own will.


On Purim, we're celebrating that everything is going according to G-d's plan. Whether we see it or not. On Purim, we recognize G-d's hiddenness, and celebrate that hiddenness. That's why we dress up in disguises. We are emulating G-d, who is the Master of Disguise, the Master of Hiddenness. G-d's plan disguises itself even as the evil people in the world. On Purim, we see that it's a disguise. There is only one Actor, playing a myriad of roles. G-d is One.


In our ordinary consciousness, we do not see this transcendent oneness. But on Purim, with a little Jack Daniels, it's amazing what we can see. So, I wish each of you an incredible Purim. And if you happen to see a drunk redheaded rabbi that looks like me wandering around the streets of Jerusalem's Old City on Purim, please send him home. His wife and children are waiting for him.

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JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron is the founder and dean of Isralight, an international organization with programming in Israel, New York South Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has taught and inspired thousands of Jews who are seeking meaning in their lives and a positive connection to their Jewish roots.

He is the author of the newly released, The Secret Life of G-d, and Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power , Seeing G-d and Love is my religion. (Click on links to purchase books. Sales help fund JWR.) He lives in the old City of Jerusalem with his wife and their seven children.



© 2005, Rabbi David Aaron