Costumes, masks, double identities. Behind the joyful celebration of Purim there is a profound story about good and evil. Unlocking its secret meaning can save the world today especially when reality looks so gloomy and uncertain. Thus, this holiday is meaningful not only to the Jewish people, but to all of humanity.
The customary reading of “The Scroll of Esther” during the Purim festival does not merely celebrate an event that happened a long time ago. Instead, it describes a spiritual state not yet apparent that stands before us and that will be discovered as soon as we unite. Indeed, Megilat Ester or The Scroll of Esther refers to “the revelation of the concealed,” because in Hebrew, “guilui” means revelation, and “ester” from “hastara” means concealment.
In the story of Purim Haman raised the claim to King Ahasuerus that the Jews should be killed because they were separated, and were thus deemed unnecessary: “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed.”
In response, Mordechai appealed to King Ahasuerus for mercy on the Jews through Queen Esther, but she said it was impossible for her to help them as long as they remained dispersed and not united. So Mordechai went on a mission to pass on this call for unity of the Jewish people. When they eventually come together and unite, Esther was able to persuade King Ahasuerus to have mercy on them.
As with all the stories from the Torah, the characters and the interaction between them represent attributes and powers that play out in our thoughts, desires, attitudes, and relationships. Mordechai symbolizes a positive force that cares deeply for everyone because the future of the world depends on the development of the sublime qualities of love and giving, and on the development of a perfect integral connection between all parts of reality and all human beings. On the other hand, evil Haman symbolizes the negative force, an egoistic tendency to control everyone else, to bend everyone under us, to take everything that is possible from them, to exploit them to our advantage.
“Man is a small world,” our sages explained. It means that within each of us lie all these forces described in The Scroll of Esther, even if we do not feel them. They define the direction of development that will save us from the egoistic struggles of self-benefit at the expense of others, which threaten to degenerate the human race into self-extinction.
The more we develop, the more these powers intensify. The ruthless will to rule and control increasingly surfaces within people and great forces of separation operate to tear us apart. Therefore, the core message of the Purim story is that unity will be our salvation, and that our neglect in overcoming the differences between us endangers, harms, and may even annihilate us.
In other words, the elevated state that humanity is so eager to achieve and that is so desperately needed these days is concealed now. As soon as we learn to connect properly with one another, above our egoism, we will remove the root of all evil from our lives, and a world of all good will be revealed.
Happy Purim to all!