Unmasking Purim!

Megillat Esther for Purim - Wikipedia

Where is G-d in the Megillah?   His name is nowhere to be found.

How do we reckon with this?   Is G-d there or not?

There is an intriguing passage in Mishlei which may help us here.

כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִ֣ים לַפָּנִ֑ים כֵּ֤ן לֵֽב־הָ֜אָדָ֗ם לָאָדָֽם 

“kaMayim haPanim laPanim, ken Lev haAdam laAdam” ​  As water ​ (reflects back)  face to ​ a​ face, so is the heart of a man to a man.  What does this mean?     I humbly offer my own interpretation of this pasuk in Mishlei 27:19.

Without כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִ֣ים לַפָּנִ֑ים  there can be no כֵּ֤ן לֵֽב־הָ֜אָדָ֗ם לָאָדָֽם .  Without the מַּיִם  Water which is the Source = Torah, without truthfully doing introspection using the Water, a Torah perspective,  how can man look to another man’s face and see him truthfully, from the same Source face to face?  I would go further to suggest  לֵֽב־הָ֜אָדָ֗ם לָאָדָֽם  would become instead לֵֽב־הָ֜דָ֗ם לָדָֽם  “Lev haDam L’Dam”, in other words Adam (Man) minus the אָ-Aleph becomes דָֽם  = blood.

I ask, what לֵֽב Lev remains after all?   For then the Aleph would be missing!  The אָ is One = The Holy ONE, הקדוש ברוך הוא!  Without that אָ , without G-d, what is man?

The only way to face another is to first look into the מַּיִם , and genuinely search about one’s self.   Then לֵֽב־הָ֜אָדָ֗ם  the heart “Lev haAdam” is restored, because the מַּיִם fuses with the דָֽם .  Essentially man is reunited with the Source, the Oneness of G-d!

I must say, I always loved learning about Miriam being the one to watch over Moshe by the waters.  Miriam HaNiviah, Moshe’s sister brought blessing to the whole nation as G-d nourished the people of Israel in her honor, מידה כנגד מידה  “measure for measure” with a well of water throughout their travels.  Miriam was close to the מַּיִם, the Source.  I believe there is much significance in that to me personally, for my name’s sake.

So what does this have to do with Purim you ask?

In Shemos 17 we learn the Jewish People went for three days without water מַּיִם.

 וַיָּבֹ֖א עֲמָלֵ֑ק וַיִּלָּ֥חֶם עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בִּרְפִידִֽם  and that is when Amalek attacked.  This is the reason given for reading the Torah every third day, so we should never be without Torah for too long and never allow ourselves to become vulnerable to Amalek again.

I’d like to add the following:  When I hear the words in Mishlei הַפָּנִ֣ים לַפָּנִ֑ים  “haPanim laPanim” it immediately makes me think of the phrase פָּנִ֣ים אֶל־פָּנִ֔ים  “Panim el Panim”  in Shemos 33, when Moshe came to be “face to face” with G-d, the only one to ever be so close to and with הקדוש ברוך הוא.  Maybe that was the closest reflection of G-d ever known in man.   Moshe’s face radiated light, from the Source.

 כַּמַּיִם also stirs in me the moving words of Eicha 2:19:

‘שִׁפְכִ֤י כַמַּ֨יִם֙ לִבֵּ֔ךְ נֹ֖כַח פְּנֵ֣י  ה  “Pour your heart like water before G-d’s “Face” (Countenance).

Early in Megillat Esther we read וַיְהִ֨י אֹמֵ֜ן אֶת־הֲדַסָּ֗ה הִ֤יא אֶסְתֵּר֙  “Mordechai ‘raised’ Hadassah she is Esther”.  Fascinating how much we may learn from this.   Her very name hints of G-d’s hiddenness, from the root הסתר.  We  know this from Devarim 31 when G-d tells Moshe וְאָנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי  “I will keep my face (Countenance) hidden”.  There is something much deeper here though, describing Mordechai’s character.  The choice of the word אֹמֵ֜ן is from the same root as אָמֵן, those letters are an acronym for א-ל מלך נאמן, “El Melech Ne’eman” G-d Faithful King.  Essentially Mordechai’s home was infused with Torah tradition.  He was proud to be a Jew, not ashamed, not apologetic, MIRROR: reflections on Purim.  He imbued Esther with this faith.  Mordechai did not bow to Haman.  Esther became queen and still maintained her Jewish observance, in secret. Esther’s outstanding humility and modesty were pivotal throughout the whole Purim story [ibid].  When the time required action, to protect and defend the Jewish People, Mordechai encouraged her to reveal her Jewish identity.  Together they led the Jews to renew and uphold their faith and their trust in each other, because in order to survive and prevail against Haman, their worst enemy the descendant of Amalek, they would have to face themselves and each other and G-d.  Their deeds were upright and this led to  לַיְּהוּדִ֕ים הָֽיְתָ֥ה אוֹרָ֖ה וְשִׂמְחָ֑ה וְשָׂשׂ֖ן וִיקָֽר .

There is much to reflect upon “KaMayim”.  When we stay close to the Source, to Torah, not only will we be able to face ourselves, we will more readily look to each other and face one another in truth, because we’ll find the אָ Aleph, the ONE, within one another.

True, G-d’s name doesn’t appear in written form, nonetheless he is ever present throughout the Megillah.

כַּמַּיִם הַפָּנִ֣ים לַפָּנִ֑ים כֵּ֤ן לֵֽב־הָ֜אָדָ֗ם לָאָדָֽם 


Water and reflections are everywhere when we look.  ​We  just need to look​​…​  and it turns out, G-d really isn’t so hidden!    He’s inside of each of us.

​A firm believer in השגחה פרטית  Divine Providence, I realized this  Mishlei is Perek 27 זָ֛ךְ  (pure).  My brother Danny a’h was niftar on זָ֛”ךְ אֱלוּל.  It’s an extra gift to find special meaning in these words.  It is most apt for him as he remained close to the Source and gave of his לֵֽב  unconditionally, always believing in and seeing the good in others.

חג פורים שמח


Miriam Leah



About the Author
Miriam Leah Epstein Preil grew up in the midwest, but her heart has always been in Israel! She began playing piano by ear when she was six years old, and by age seven was already studying piano seriously. Her musicality and passion for music were remarkable from an early age. She and the piano are inseparable! Music fills her life and home. Miriam Leah has composed pieces for piano, piano and voice, and many Niggunim. Her poetry is unique, each poem stands on its own yet becomes greater within her collection of poems. All universal. She utilizes her writing to engage people in thought, stir discussion, share insights, support causes, bring forth truths, educate, and inspire souls. She has taught Judaics and Jewish music extensively in Jewish Day schools for many years. Miriam Leah combines her love of music and creative writing with her devotion to Am Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel, through her writing of Divrei Torah and advocating for Jewish values and Israel.
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