We are going to celebrate Purim again. But what do we celebrate?
The word megillah, scroll, contains the letters gimel lamed he of the Hebrew word ‘reveal’. In Esther we find the letters samech tav resh of the Hebrew word ‘hide’. So the megillat Esther deals with revealing what is hidden. The word Esther itself is formed with an aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and seter. Aleph is one of the descriptors of G’d, and seter means a hidden place. So Esther means ‘G’d who is in a hiding place’. And according to Rashi in the days of Esther there is a hester panim, a hiding of the divine face. But hiding is not disappearing. Esther is very visible but hides her identity, nobody knows she is Jewish. We think we see reality but we don’t see what is real. Our challenge is to see the reality behind reality. That is what the book Esther is about. We celebrate seeing the real reality behind the visible one. Therefore our rabbi’s say that in the days of Mashiach of all festivals only Purim will still be celebrated.
In the story several people happen to be at the right place at the right moment. By accident Mordechai hears two courtiers talking about murdering the king. By accident the king wants the chronicles read to him just that night. By accident his servant chooses exactly this piece. Or choose? The tekst says: wajimatze katoev, what was written is found. Accident, synchronicity, or the hand of haShem? Or is that all the same? Leit atar panui mine, there is no place devoid of Him, says the Zohar. The book Esher teaches us to see the holy, the wonder, in the ordinary, and even in evil.
We can also see our own life as a chain of accidental events. Or as a series of events that brought us where we had to be, or will do so in the future. If we look at our life, we can do so through the mysery filter: what misery, what mishaps befell us, what bad intentions other people have towards us. Or we can look at it through the blessings glasses: how good was our portion, and in the few bad things a blessing was hidden, or so we saw later. Isn’t it a wonder how all our experiences led us to where we are now? How blessed we are! What a wonderful things we see every day! Ours is the choice between the mysery filter and the blessings glasses.
We are ordered to drink so much at Purim that we don’t know, ad d’lo jada, the difference between ‘Baruch (blessed) Mordechai’ en ‘Arur (cursed) Haman’. Say the rabbi’s. But the Talmud does not mention wine. It says livsumay, with the same letters bet samech mem as herbs, besamim,and it is translated as intoxicate, sweeten, make happy. We have to be so happy we don’t see the difference. Baruch Mordechai and Arur Haman have the same numerical value, 502. Our sages say that means they share the same meaning. But how can the summum of evil be equal to the summum of piety? The Ba’al Shem Tov states that in every evil there is something good, and we have to look at it from the inside to see it. Ad d’lo jada means letting go of judgment and control. It means to go to a place of transcending opposites. It means to go to a place where no opinion is formed yet, so all opinions are still possible. It means looking at every situation anew, without prejudgments formed by experiences in the past. It means transcending duality and going to a place of non-duality.
The Talmud tekst suggests that we need intoxicating herbs (mariuhana? absinth? ayahuasca? magic mushrooms? what did these old rabbi’s use?) to transcend duality. One trip once a year, at Purim. Let’s enjoy tonight. And let’s work on ourselves the rest of the year to arrive at that place with consciousness.