Shlomo Ezagui

The masks over good and evil

The Book of Esther is different from all other books of the Bible in that the name of God is not mentioned even once. On the surface, God is nowhere to be found!

Names are just for others to use to address us, to distinguish us from others, and to differentiate one trait in a person from another. Without a name, a person can live a complete and fulfilled life. The mystics explain that the interaction between God and the story of Purim comes from the deepest and strongest place within God, where names and superficial faculties do not matter.

One of the Purim directives is to raise awareness that blessed be Mordechai (the good guy) and cursed be Haman (the bad guy) are the same! How can anyone be expected to fail to recognize the difference between a righteous man who devotes his entire life to helping people and an evil man whose sole ambition is to eradicate a people from the world?

The following is one of the explanations for fulfilling the above directive. When added up, the letters in Hebrew for “blessed be Mordechai” and “cursed be Haman” equal 502. On Purim, a person should drink just enough that he can’t quickly figure out the two numbers that add up to the same number, which is a bit strange. Why did the sages choose these two statements (blessed be… and cursed be..) as the determining criteria? Ironically, “blessed be the good guy” and “cursed be the bad guy” both come down to identical numbers!

A similar question is asked in the Mishnah, which teaches, “In the same way a person blesses and acknowledges God for good, he should also always acknowledge God for the bad.” Why the association between the good and the bad? The sages could have said that every experience requires a blessing, which would have sufficed.

God, the essence of good, made Haman and evil so that, through an individual’s effort, a change could happen, and the power of evil could be used for the greater good. Down at the source from which it all flows, there is a connection and harmony between the good and the bad. The good has been disguised as evil.

The purpose of darkness is to make people appreciate light more, and in the end, darkness should become the thing that makes people appreciate the light and good even more so.

This is the profound objective of this commandment on Purim. In retrospect, when we read the story and see the numerous coincidences and “accidents” that all just happened to turn out in our favor, and for the better, we realize that we are empowered; that even amid Haman’s curse, there is a route and a higher goal towards blessing. (The Jewish people reconnected themselves with the Torah at that time.) Esther becomes the queen, and Haman ultimately suffers a bitter downfall.

When a person’s attitude is based exclusively on logic and level-headedness, there is a vast distance between good and evil, and one may want to shun evil completely. However, in elevated moments, such as when we hear the Megillah, the Purim story, we can reach a higher perspective, one from a Godlier perspective. We learn that with trust and faith in God’s infinite goodness, which encompasses ALL events, and patience, what appears to be painful becomes the catalyst for the most positive changes in our lives.

That is why we wear masks on Purim; to remind ourselves that this world is a mask over the truth, ultimate purpose, and goodness. The truth is that God is the inner cause of everything, which is a tremendous and positive reason to celebrate.

Chapter 184

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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