During the FESTIVAL of PURIM, everyone boos at the mention of Haman’s name and everyone cheers the names of Esther and Mordechai. There are many other names mentioned, but mysteriously one name is missing. Where is God, since there is no mention of His Name in the Book of Esther? Yet, the face of God is hidden or veiled for a purpose; to teach us that God is at work behind the scenes. The absence of God’s Name gives the Book of Esther its profound significance.
In Esther, God’s Name does not appear, but when all was done, His presence was recognized everywhere and every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly. We see a well-conceived plan where nothing was left to chance and God was watchful all along. Because God’s Name does not appear in Esther, it signifies a deeper meaning for which we must search. We read in the Prophet Jeremiah (29:13), “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart”. The ancient Rabbis taught that seeking and searching deeper, the Sacred Name of God (YHVH) is mysteriously hidden in the Hebrew text of Esther in acrostic form in four places. This is clearly seen in the example from Esther 5:4:
What happens when God’s face is hidden (הֶסְתֵר פָּנִים – Hester Panim) and we don’t see the miracles? Will we lose faith or is God teaching us that true faith is not based on miracles, but on belief and trust in a loving and merciful God. Miracles can be rationalized, explained away, or misinterpreted. Reliance on miracles can actually weaken our faith because we can forget that the Hand of God is as present in the times of silence as it is in the times of miracles.
No, He is not concealed. He only seems to be. It is for us to find Him in every event and situation in our lives. To find and see God working behind the scenes of our lives. The Book of Esther teaches us this truth and should be one of the first books to come to mind when everything seems hopeless. So, let us rejoice this Purim with the reading of the Megillah, shouts of joy, the sounding of the Grogger, and with mouth-watering Hamantashen.
Chag Purim to all!
Rabbi Yossi Laster