Friday, March 23, 2007


Posted by Dasi

As we break in the month of Adar, we begin to think about celebrating another holiday. We make preparations, think about the food and the plans, and invite the family. We also(hopefully) consider the meaning of the holiday. This year, during the Purim Megillah reading we see Nes Nistar, hidden miracles, occurring right and left.

Although it became part of the Bible, known in English as the Book of Esther, the account never mentions the name of God, though there are veiled allusions. This surprising omission actually reflects a central theme of this holiday. On Purim we celebrate the fact that the hand of God guides us, even at times when we do not see open miracles or obvious Divine intervention. When we read the Megillah, we are not awestruck by dramatic changes in the laws of nature, but by a series of seemingly disconnected events that ultimately resulted in the salvation of the Jewish people. Achashverosh executed his first wife and chose the beautiful Esther as his new queen. These are not miracles, but behavior to be expected from a despotic king. Nor was it a miracle that Mordechai once saved the king from an assassination plot, thereby earning his gratitude. Each event, in and of itself, was not miraculous or even exceptional. When seen in retrospect however, the series of events is seen as engineered from Above for the purpose of evoking repentance from the Jewish people and then saving them from danger.
Rabbi Mordechai Becher, March 1st, 2006

Thoguh the miracles are not of “sea splitting” magnitude, we feel the need to acknowledge the importance, the “central theme” of Nes, miracle in the holiday of Purim. Earlier during the year, during our unit about different types of Hashgachot, we learned many ways in which to look at the methods Hashem chooses to control the world. Among them were Nes Nistar, hidden miracles, and Nes Niglah, an obvious miracle. In addition, however, were more general ways in which Hashem could control the world. For example, Hashem controls events which affect just the Jewish nation, or Hashem controls the life of every individual Jew. Why aren’t these reasons or central themes for the story of Purim? Why are the majority of Jewish holidays centered on a Nes? Sukkot is centered on the Annenei Hakoavod; Passover the miraculous exodus. Shavuot is the divine incident at Mount Sinai. There are other elements of the holidays,(e.g. social factors, cultural occurances) but the focus tends to be on the Nes. We learned with Nevuah that the miracles are not meant to be the basis of our belief, rather their role is enforce our belief of the Nevuah.

So why so much with the Nes on all Jewish holidays?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that one of the reasons why the vast majority of Jewish holidays are centered around miracles is because it gives us a clear link to Hashem. These miracles help prove to the Jewish people that Hashem is omnipotent. We are in awe of God's greatness and as a result we strive to be closer with God.
Miracles also create pride amongst the Jewish nation. The Jewish people feel proud when Hashem creates miracles like the splitting of the Red Sea for them. It makes people feel unique and valued. In order for a religion to be successful people must feel a sense of purpose and pride.
I also believe that most holidays are centered around miracles because that is what makes something worthy of being a holiday. We celebrate/ commemorate the exodus from Egypt because of the miracles God created to let us leave. Had God not split the sea or done the ten plagues and had the Jewish nation left Egypt over time there would be no reason for a holiday. Had God not created a miracle for Purim, there would be no holiday, we would simply be mourning the loss of the majority of the Jewish population. God's miracles have given us a reason to celebrate.

March 23, 2007 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, the above post was written by Rebecca

March 23, 2007 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so i tihnk that evyer dya we celebrate the "mundane" miracles of God. on holidays we tkae spcial times to ntoe the more noticble mirales. not onyl r there miracles noticable [some more than others] but they also show a significant chagne in Jeiwsh Hisdotry. Pesach for example its n0ot only the nes of fslavery to freedom and the splitting of the sea, rather it unified and created us as a people. Shavuos not only celebrates the miracles of the torah but also the way the torah identifies the jewish people. the chagim r focused on miracles bc these miracles bring about a change in our history asa people. similarly the fasts [which are focused on the opposite of Chagim, when Hashem "left" us} these tooo though are times when our history changed. tzom gedaliah for example signifies our ultimate diaspora, he was the last jewish ruler of the jewish people in the biblical state. tisha baav as weel...the destruction of the temple changed our identity for it changed much of our rituals. the holidyas and fasts celebrate times of change, tiems which define who we are as a nation todya. the mundane miralces on the other hang ...such as birth or the growth of a tree is cleblerated in our eveyr day. form tefilah t eating kosher...eveyrthing we do reminds ous of God and all the miracles He does daily.

March 24, 2007 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Rachel D said...

I think that many holidays are focused around miracles because miracles strengthen the faith of bnei yisrael. for example, the nes that everything flipped around to save the jews on purim is something that demonstrates apparent divine intervention, although Gods name is hidden. The jews could not have been saved if the plan hadnt worked out just the way it did. These miracles lead people to appreciate all that God does for them, and it confirms their faith. If holidays revolved around simple involvement, however, the holiday wouldnt be recognized as special. after all, God involved himself in our lives individually, right? (only if ur a jew ofcourse, if ur non jewish then God would only intervene if like, ur population was being extinct...) a holiday cant be celebrated around intervention that is so regular. a nes is a unique thing, and that is why there are holidays to commemorate miracles.

March 27, 2007 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Eliana said...

I don't believe that holidays are so focused on miracles in the way the you said. In fact, i think there's almost a downplay on miracles. During the seder on Pesach, although we do mention the 10 plagues, we hardly discuss it outside of the that breif listing, and the listing of their groupings. Instead we focus on God and we focus on remembering leaving, and on our children, etc. The details aren't dramatized. THe splitting of the sea, I believe is actually only mentioned breifly in songs like Dayenu.
On Purim, we don't even talk about miracles as this prevalent thing. Its all about the hidden miracle. Most of Bnei Yisroel I think probably didn't even realize that a miracle was taking place with Esther when it was.
On Chanukah, the miracle was the few against the many succeeding; there was hardly a dramatic supernatural event.
I think the reason we talk about miracles on these holidays is to attribute our gains and saves and everything to God, even if it doesn't seem like it is directly from him.

April 11, 2007 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During holidays we celebrate our connection with Hashem. A way Hashem symbolizes his connection and Hashgacha over us is through miracles, because they signify that Hashem has interviened in some way, for the better of Am Yisrael. Holidays are one of the central elements to our culture and the way we practice Judaism. Therefore, Hashem's intervention is a key theme in holidays. The neseem show Hashem's faith in us. And holidays celebrate both our faith in Hashem and his in us. Additionally, holidays are not frequent, and similarly, neither are miracles. therefore, holidays also celebrate those unique miracles.

April 12, 2007 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well i think a very huge portion about miracles as most of us said before, is that having these miracles makes the holiday so much fun and so meaningful to have.Furthermore, by having our holidays centered around the miracles, we are more inclined to learn and ask questions about the holiday which can lead us to more of the story and the deeper meaning etc. Another thing i was thinking about was the idea of these holidays as children. Althoguh children may see Judisim in a differnt light, the idea of these miracles are very easy for them to grasp, and gives them understanding of the holidays. By marking each holiday with a miracle or one occurence it is easier for them to remember what happened for which holiday. These miracles are very speical occurences whcih Hashem clearly wants us to remmeber-so through these events- we learn and we remember.
Shira Zurndorfer

April 15, 2007 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly nisim in general are used to show us Hashem’s greatness. Nisim are also used in order to get something accomplished or completed. It’s interesting to me that this question is being asked as it is. I’ve often heard people ask why Hashem doesn’t do miracles anymore.(the grass is always greener on the other side) The answer often given is that God does to miracles- every day in fact- we just don’t see them as great doings. We aren’t really grateful for the things that do happen. So why are the holidays centered around nisim? Maybe to show God’s power. But maybe it’s to show us to appreciate all that Hashem does do for us. To show us that we should be grateful for the wonderful happenings. Not only those nowadays, but also in the past. Look how far we’ve come- or rather, look how far Hashem has brought us!
Naomi Z

June 04, 2007 11:24 AM  

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