Colorful Purim customs from across the globe
The hidden meaning behind the Purim story: A holiday of concealmentIn Israel and across the globe, Purim is a holiday full of great festivities. However, the theme of concealment is found throughout the Purim story. What are the hidden meanings behind this holiday?
In Israel and across the globe, Purim is a holiday full of great festivities. Children dress up in costumes and sweets are passed out. In many communities, the children make tons of noise whenever the Megillah is read in the synagogue. People feast and enjoy themselves, drinking literally until they cannot tell the difference between the righteous Esther and the wicked Haman. However, there are a lot of hidden meanings to this particular holiday.
Throughout the Book of Esther, the name of G-d does not appear once. It appears as though G-d is hiding from the masses. Yet at the same time, G-d plays a pivotal role in the Purim story. It was not an accident that Queen Vashti was disgraced, which led to the rise of Queen Esther. It was also not by chance that Mordechai overheard the plot to kill King Ahasuerus and was thus able to save the king. It was these events that allowed for the salvation of Persia’s Jews.
However, instead of having his name spelled out, G-d is disguised under the title of being the king. The theme of concealment is found throughout the Purim story. Nobody except for Mordechai knows that Queen Esther is Jewish until the end of the story. Even King Ahasuerus is left in the dark. And when the name of 4 of Haman’s 10 sons who are hanged is written in Hebrew, they are written in small Hebrew letters. In the Jewish tradition, it is taught that whenever a holy book utilizes small Hebrew letters, it means something. If these letters symbolize a year, they state 5707, the year on the Jewish calendar when 10 Nazi war criminals were hanged following the Nuremberg Trials.
The Bible specifically states that Haman, the evil Persian Vizier who sought to annihilate the Jewish people, was an Agagite. Agag was the King of the Amalekites, implying that all ten sons of Haman were also part of the nation of Amalek. Interestingly, the great Torah sage the Vilna Gaon explained that the Germans are also descendants of the nation of Amelek. Simon Dubnow, Arthur Szyk and Raul Hilberg also identified the Nazis, who sought to eliminate the Jewish people, as being Amalekites. There are also Talmudic passages that mention a nation called Germania during the Roman Diaspora that seem prophetic in retrospect.
The numbers of people executed in both instances came to 10 and the fact both the Nazis and Haman’s family were purportedly Amalekites are not the only similarities between the Purim story and the Nuremberg Trials. The haunting connection between these two eras in Jewish history begins with a story from the Talmud in which it is explained that in the Purim story Haman’s daughter committed suicide and thus didn’t need to be hung. Similarly, following the Nuremberg Trials, Hermann Göring, a well-known Nazi cross-dresser, also committed suicide and thus was not hung. In fact, Julius Streicher, the Nazi editor of the anti-Semitic Der Stürmer newspaper, even proclaimed before he was hung, “Purim Fest 1946.” In other words, hidden inside the Purim story is a prophecy for an event that would happen later on in Jewish history.
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