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Tuesday, Adar 4, 5781 / February 16, 2021


The festive holiday of Purim begins next week Thursday night, February 25, and Friday, February 26.  The following are Questions & Answers about Purim:


Q.   Why do we make noise when Haman's name is mentioned during the megilah reading?


A.   Haman descended from Amalek.  The Torah commands us, "You must erase the remembrance of Amalek."  Thus, when Haman is mentioned in the megilah, we "erase" and blot out his name by making noise.


Q.   Why do we read from a megilah which is folded in layers, rather than a megilah rolled like a Torah?"


A.   Esther and Mordechai refer to the megilah as "Igeret" - "letter".  We fold the megilah to look like a "letter".


Q.  Mordechai played a role in the story of Purim together with Esther.  Why is the megilah called "Megilat Esther" - "Scroll of Esther"?


A.  The Megilah tells us that Esther's Jewish identity was originally not known, so her life was not affected by Haman's decree.  Yet, Esther risked death, to plead for her people revealing her Jewish identity.  Since Esther put her life in danger more than Mordechai, the megilah was named after her.


Also, Esther was the one who insisted that the story of Purim be recorded and be added to our Holy Scriptures, thus, it was named "Megilat Esther."


Another reason:  Megilat Esther is the only book in Scriptures in which G-d’s name is not mentioned.  "Esther" comes from the root "Astir," which means to "hide."  The name “Megilat Esther" alludes to the fact that G-d's presence in the megilah is "hidden."


Q.  Why doesn't G-d's name appear in the megilah?


A.  G-d performs miracles in two ways.  One way is by changing the laws of nature temporarily.  For example, the Exodus, the splitting of the Sea, the Giving of the Torah, the miracle of Chanukah, when a small amount of oil, enough to burn only one day, lasted eight days etc.  These miracles were in a revealed way.


Another way is that G-d "hides" the miracle within nature.  In this case, we do not see an obvious miracle.  Purim was a "hidden"miracle, for it came through Queen Esther's intervention in which case one may attribute the final outcome not to a Divine miracle but to the King’s desire to please his queen.  This is emphasized by the fact that

G-d's name does not appear in the Megilah.  Miracles like these require effort to recognize their G-dly connection. 


The lesson for us: We too, throughout our lives, experience two kinds of miracles: "Open miracles," when we see no way out of a difficult situation and then salvation occurs. Then there are "hidden miracles" which include the every day events, (walking, talking, breathing, movement... etc.) which we take for granted.  Miracles like these are part of our daily tests.  Purim teaches us that the daily “hidden miracles,” in which G-d’s presence is not revealed, actually represent the greatest miracle of all!