By Rabbi Mendy Hecht
Congregation Beth Israel Orchard Street Shul
Everybody is looking to break the next big story. In the age of Facebook Live anybody can stream any happening or any message to hundreds, thousands and even millions of viewers instantly. Gone are the days where one has to wait until the evening news to watch a news anchor report what’s going on in the world. With all this instant knowledge, sometimes things get lost in the shuffle and sometimes the biggest story doesn’t get reported. Sometimes we are so busy focusing on the notes that we fail to hear the song. We’re about to celebrate two major holidays, Purim and Passover, where some obvious and some not so obvious miracles occurred. While the Jewish people were rescued in both stories, the way they were saved was different.
The events leading up to our leaving Egypt were no doubt above the natural order of things. The limitations of nature were broken by the revelations that took place. The Torah tells us that by the third plague, way before the splitting of the sea, the world recognized that the “hand of G-d” was orchestrating these events. The Jewish people were freed with the assistance and because of the presence and revelation of G-d.
Purim wasn’t as obvious. When we read through the Megilah, we read of a very mundane story where at first glance it could be that the right people were in the right place at the right time. It is hard to find the “hand of G-d” in the saving of the Jewish people from wicked Haman. In fact, G-d’s name isn’t mentioned once in the entire Megilah. Some would argue that the story of Purim doesn’t belong among the great holidays for this very reason.
We could imagine that Pesach would have been a hit on Instagram and we would all be following #exodus2448 and #letmypeoplego, yet Purim wouldn’t be trending on any social media platform. Purim would just be another story that barely got any coverage. However, the contrast of these two events can give us great insight into our own life experiences.
Too often we seek only the big event. We look out for the “splitting of the sea” moment where we will undoubtedly see G-d’s revelation and our faith will be confirmed. Purim, in contrast to Pesach, is there to tell us that although the great revelations are important, being able to recognize G-d’s constant involvement in our daily lives is tantamount.
This recognition isn’t always easy. We get used to waking up every morning. We get used to the fact that our bodies function more or less. We get used to the fact that we can walk, talk and think. We get comfortable in our routines, at work, with our lifestyles and relationships. It’s easy to overlook all the “miraculous” things that take place every day. It isn’t always easy to detect and perceive a higher power that guides and directs the footsteps of man. The great French philosopher Descartes wrote “G-d has made three marvels, something from nothing, free will and G-d in man.” This, my friends, is the big story that is hidden in plain sight. While Pesach reminds us that G-d controls and can manipulate nature at will, Purim reminds us that just because normal is natural, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t divine. Enjoy the Chagim!