(I’m stepping out of my sequence of posts on “Korbanot” to comment on Purim):

     A well-known feature of the celebration of Purim is the reading of the “Megillat Esther” – the biblical “Book of Esther” (although “megillah” means “scroll,” it’s called a “book” in keeping with other sections of the Bible).  In both the Masoretic (Hebrew) and the Protestant canons, the “Megillat Esther” is the only book of the Bible in which G-d’s name doesn’t appear at all. The Septuagint (the first Greek translation) and the Vulgate (St. Jerome’s Latin translation, based on the earlier Hebrew and Greek versions; used in the Roman Catholic Church) contain passages with a name of G-d, but these might have been later interpolations.
     Yet, even without being mentioned directly, G-d’s presence pervades the narrative.  Things that seem “accidental” at first, end up redirecting the entire flow of events.
     For example, Vashti, Ahashverosh’s queen, rebuffs his command to dance naked for his guests. To deny a king’s “request” was so verboten in that era that its very outrageousness is in keeping with the farcical quality of “Esther.” Consequently, Vashti is deposed.  Yet, if she hadn’t refused, Esther would never have become queen.  If Esther hadn’t become queen, it would seem as if there’d have been no one to defend the Jewish people against Haman’s plot to kill them.
     Yet, Esther’s uncle, Mordechai, tells her, in so many words: If you don’t take advantage of the chance to become the new queen, salvation will arise from somewhere/someone else. For Mordechai, the outcome was never in question; only the means by which it would be brought about.  He wasn’t worried.
     The “drama,” then, was not so much in whether the Jews would be saved, as in whether Esther would face what she had to face and do what she had to do.
     “Esther” represents all of us, faced with challenges. What’s happening to her is no accident.
     Therein lies the essence of the megillah: the accidental is really the providential.
     In the Megillah, G-d’s “absence” – represented literarily by the absence of a Divine Name in the text – is only apparent; the reality is G-d’s perpetual presence in, and unseen management of, events.
     The “Etz Hayim” chumash, produced by the Conservative movement, makes the same point, in commenting on “…grant me good fortune/הקרה-נא (Gen. 24:12)”:
     “The Hebrew verb here (hakrei) literally means ‘make it occur.’ What appears to be the result of chance (mikreh) may, in reality, be a deliberate determination of G-d. Nothing is more characteristic of the biblical outlook than the conviction about the role of divine providence in everyday human affairs.” [1]

If so, no book could be more “biblical” than “Esther.”

What “accidents” in your own life have proven to be providential?


[1] Etz Hayim; Torah and Commentary; c. 2001 by the Rabbinical Assembly; p. 132-3