The only way is up!

balloons, celebration, float


The Purim story surround the epic battle between the Jewish people and Haman who attempts to exterminate them. This battle is in fact one chapter in an epic eternal conflict between the Jewish people on the one hand and Haman’s antecedents Amalek on the other.

By understanding the underlying rationale in the original battle and encounter we can arrive at a deeper appreciation as to the celebration of Purim and the relevance and lessons for our own lives.

Amalek’s ability to carry out an initial attack on the Jewish People was borne out of our nation’s spiritual vulnerability. This was manifest in their questioning “is G-d really with us or not?”

The Talmud interestingly in describing this state of uncertainty records that “their hands became weak in their connection to the Torah. The hands symbolise man’s connection to the world, his ability to function within the world. Their hands, their ability to function became disconnected from the Torah and as a result from G-d. (They didn’t see the connection between the development of the physical world and the Divine will.) Thus their recognition of the Divine providence was weakened, enabling Amalek the deniers of Divine providence –to attack.

For this reason when Amalek attacked the Jewish people Moshe lifted his hands pointing heaven wards as a result they were victorious in the battle. The Mishnah explains that it was not Moshe’s raised hands that saved them, but rather when the Jewish people directed their eyes heavenward and subjugated their hearts to Hashem, they overpowered Amalek. The hands of Moshe were a test. Would the people attribute their success to the secondary cause to Moshe hands or would they look beyond the hands to see the Divine providence orchestrating history. 

At the time of the Purim story this mistaken perception was perpetuated by the people’s  refusal to recognise the Divine providence choosing to pin their hopes for salvation on placating Achashverus. For this reason they went against Mordechai’s wishes choosing to attend the Royal banquet which they felt would ensure their position was secure.  In fact this act endangered the Jewish people as it ran contrary to the wishes of Hashem.

In reading the Megillah, we express the fact that history itself testifies to Hashem’s guidance of world events. Behind the mask of the plethora of causes and effects in the world, one can discern the Divine hand orchestrating events toward His goals. One of the requirements of the Megillah is that of sirtut, the Megillah must be scored with lines before the letters are written similar to a Sefer Torah.  Rav Leff suggests that the letters and words of the Torah represent the unfolding of events over the course of history. The almost invisible lines on the parchment upon which these letters are written represent the divine plan, the path that is already extant before those events actually occur.

Reading the Megillah on Purim is a timely reminder of the timeless lesson of the Almighty shaping the contours not just of history but guiding a protecting our every step.





Published by Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch

Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch is currently the Senior Rabbi in Woodside Park Synagogue – a modern orthodox thriving community of some 1,400 members. His innate love for people and his empowering brand of leadership make him a well-loved figure in Woodside Park & London.

Leave a Reply