Purim

Simcha's Torah Stories

by Simcha Groffman
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Simcha's Torah Stories ©

Purim

THE CARNIVAL

STEP RIGHT UP! TRY YOUR LUCK! SPIN THE WHEEL AND WIN BIG PRIZES! HOW ABOUT YOU YOUNG GIRL? STEP RIGHT UP! TAKE A CHANCE! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE? IT'S ALL A GAME! LIFE IS ALL CHANCES. EVERYTHING HAPPENS BY LUCK. TODAY MAY BE YOUR LUCKY DAY. GIVE YOUR LUCK A TRY! SPIN THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE! STEP RIGHT UP ! ! ! !

Mommy.

Yes Ahuva.

Let's go home.

Why?

I don't like that man. I don't like this place.

I thought you would like this carnival, Ahuva dear.

Something bothers me about what that man is saying. Is it true Mommy that everything is luck?

My sweet child. I could almost cry. Your pure soul is so sensitive to the truth. What he said is not true at all. In fact, the truth is just the opposite. Do you know who also said that everything is luck?

Who, Mommy?

Our arch-enemy Haman. Many, many years ago. He wanted to destroy our entire nation.

Mommy, are you talking about the Purim story?

That's right, my dear.

But what does that have to do with luck?

Come, I'll explain it to you.

Mommy, can you explain something else also?

What is it, dear?

All of the other Jewish holidays are named after something very important about the day. Rosh Hashana -- the new year, Succos -- the succah, Shavuous -- the seven weeks that we count, and so on. What is Purim named after?

Relax my dear Ahuva, and I will answer both of your questions.

It was the third year of the reign of King Achashverosh. He ruled over 127 nations of the world. To celebrate his rule he made a big party which lasted 180 days. During this party, he became drunk and summoned Queen Vashti to appear before the public, so they could admire her beauty. She refused to appear and he became angry. In fact, he became so upset that he sentenced her to death.

My dear Ahuva, these are all very odd events. A King getting drunk in public? A Queen refusing the order of the King? A King sentencing his own Queen to death? Something unusual is happening here. What did Haman have to say about all of this? Chance, pure chance. Everything happens by chance.

Fours years later, after searching for a new queen to replace Vashti, King Achashverosh chooses . . . Esther. She is a woman who does not reveal her nationality or lineage to the King. Would a King ever choose a woman who hides her identity from him for a wife? Never. But Achashverosh did. Very strange. Not to Haman. Just another chance happening.

Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish nation, was sitting at the gates of the palace when he overheard a plot to kill the King. He reported the culprits to the authorities. He was not rewarded for this, rather the event was recorded in the King's diary. A man who saves the King's life is not rewarded? Bad luck for him. That's what Haman would say.

Five years later Haman convinces Achashverosh to order the destruction of all of the Jews in his kingdom. How does he choose the dreadful day of destruction? He draws lots. A lot is called "Pur" in Hebrew. Why not draw lots? Everything happens by chance. The day selected is the 13th of Adar. Unknown to Haman, this is the month of good fortune for the Jews. Not exactly an accidental occurrence.

Until now the key events have been years apart. Who would think there is any connection between them? Now, however, things begin to happen much more quickly. Esther invites the King and Haman to a party as she begins the plan to save the Jews. Haman is very flattered. That night, the King could not sleep. He asked that his diary be read to him. The King discovers that Mordechai saved his life and was never rewarded. The next day he summons Haman to reward Mordechai by escorting him through the streets of the city and shouting his praises. This, of course, was very humiliating to Haman. How did he describe it to his wife? He told her everything that happened. It just happened.

Ultimately, Haman was hung on the same gallows he prepared for Mordechai, and the day that was planned for the Jews' destruction became their day of victory. Everything turned around in the opposite direction.

Luck? Chance? Hardly. When you look closely, Ahuva dear, you can see G-d's hand directing all of the events. Queem Vashti was killed to make way for Queen Esther, who would save the Jewish people. Mordechai, who saved the King's life was finally rewarded five years later, at a time and in a way which disgraced his arch-enemy Haman. But the ultimate irony was the "pur", the lottery that Haman drew to decide the day the Jews would be killed. He believed that the world is run by luck and chance. He let chance decide the fateful day. G-d flipped that day around to victory. That was His "signature" on the Purim story. His way of letting us know that He is controlling the events of the world.

So you see, dear Ahuva, that the man at the carnival was wrong. Nothing happens by chance. The name of the holiday, "Purim", the lots, are not an insignificant detail of the story. It is the symbol of the difference between the Hamans of the world, who say that chance, and not G-d runs the world, and those who see the Divine Hand in our past and present events.

Mommy, I can see that our coming to this carnival was no accident. I had to come here to learn about Haman. It was a great lesson, but being with you Mommy, is more fun than any carnival.

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