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A Modern-Day Purim Story: Nothing Is Random

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Trump holds a banquet at the White House to celebrate his presidency. Top members of the Jewish community are invited. Kosher food will be provided, but the entertainment, well, won’t be so kosher. At the banquet, Trump’s ego gets to his head and he orders his wife Melania to appear in front of the crowd wearing nothing but her Louboutin stilettos. She refuses and so Trump divorces her and deports her from the country.

In need of a first lady, he holds a national beauty pageant. A federal official in charge of recruitment spots a beautiful Jewish woman named Esther and enrolls her. Reluctant, she attends the pageant at the White House without any makeup, hoping to be released to go home to her husband, Mordechai, who is one of the leaders of the Jewish people. Instead, she wins favor in Trump’s eyes and becomes his First Lady. Mordechai tells Esther not to reveal that she is Jewish, because it’s not clear where Trump really stands regarding the Jews.

Mordechai spends more time around the White House, wanting to see Esther and talk to her about her new life. One day, he overhears two senior cabinet members plotting to assassinate Trump. He tells Esther, who informs Trump, and it turns out the allegations are true. Mordechai’s deed is written down in Trump’s records.

Soon after, Ed Haman, an anti-Semite in Trump’s cabinet, approaches Trump on Shabbat, when Ivanka and Jared are not around. Haman asks Trump to issue an Executive Order allowing the deportation of the Jewish people on a certain day, a day he determined by casting “lots,” which in Hebrew is “Purim.” Trump, who is busy focusing on his Twitter account, tells Haman he can do whatever he wants.

When Mordechai reads the news, he texts Esther: You must go to Trump and do something. Esther hesitates. “Trump is hot and cold and it is unclear how he may respond,” she texts back. “Look what happened to Melania!” Mordechai warns her that she will not be able to save herself at the expense of the Jews. Esther agrees to approach Trump, provided that she and all of the Jews fast first.

After the fast, Esther finds Trump after his press conference. She invites him and his close advisor, Haman, to a banquet in her quarters of the White House the following day. (She knows better than to make a more serious request of Trump after a press conference). That night, upset by the media, Trump is unable to sleep. He goes through his records and sees that Mordechai was never rewarded for reporting the assassination plot. He decides to honor him with a highly coveted position on his Middle Eastern Affairs Committee.

Meanwhile, at the banquet the next night, Esther finally tells Trump that Haman seeks to deport her people from America. Trump is outraged; he storms out of the room to get some air, making sure to leave his phone behind, before confronting Haman (his life coach is really helping!) When he returns, he sees Haman trying to kiss Esther and his rage returns. He decides to deport Haman from the country.

In his new position on the Committee, Mordechai, with help from his son-in-law Jared, advise Trump to allow the Jews to stay in America. Trump edits the same Executive Order to deport Haman instead of the Jews. The crisis is averted.

This superficial modern-day rendition of the Purim story is stretched to fit Democratic standards, but in the actual Purim story, the stakes are much higher: the survival of the entire Jewish people is threatened. Though the actual Purim story has significantly more depth, the chain of events is similar. What if Melania (Queen Vashti) had not been divorced (killed)? What if Esther had not been chosen to replace her? What if Mordechai had not heard the assassination plot? Would Trump (King Ahashverosh) have nullified the Executive Order (edict)?

So many pieces had to been in place for the Jewish people to be saved. Yet God is not mentioned even once in the entire Megillah (scroll). Esther’s name actually means “hidden.” Her name is alluded to in the Torah is when God says, “And I shall surely hide My face.” Yet the illusion of God’s hiddenness is what makes the Purim story so powerful: Even when events seem like natural coincidences, in reality, God is orchestrating every detail of our national and personal lives beyond our wildest imaginations.

God’s intimate involvement in our lives is not always easy to grasp. This is because we live in a time of doubt.

Rabbi Akiva Tatz explains that the mystics actually call this world “a world of doubt” since the time Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Prior to eating from the tree, reality was clear: good and evil could be easily distinguished. Once Adam ate from the tree, however, good and evil were mixed into the nature of reality (hence the tree of good and evil). As a result, nothing would ever again be totally clear. If you think about it, even the clearest decisions you ever made were probably tainted by some negative element.[1]

So Adam eats from the Tree and then tries to hide from God. Is that not ridiculous? Adam knows God can see him, why is he attempting to hide? Because he is more confused now. Adam knows God can see him, yet he thinks he can hide. God appears and calls to Adam, “Where are you?” Of course God knows where Adam is! But God relates to us how we relate to Him. If man wishes to distance himself from God and feel he is independent, then God will allow him to perceive- falsely- that he is alone.[2]

God asks Adam, “Did you eat from the tree?” The Hebrew word for “did you” is “hamin,” which is the name “Haman,” the villain in the Purim story. Haman is a descendant of the nation Amalek, which tried to destroy the Jewish people throughout history (we don’t know who Amalek is today). The word “Amalek” has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for “doubt,” “safek.”[3]

The essence of the nation Amalek is to take advantage of the doubt that exists in the world; to say that everything is coincidence and random. The Jewish people exist for the exact opposite reason: To reveal Hashem’s presence in the world, despite the doubt that exists.[4]

As Rabbi Tatz so beautifully puts it:

Amalek comes to mask reality; we strive to unmask it…Purim is the time of masks; Hashem has gone into hiding in Jewish history, He has donned a mask. But He is not distant; if one is distant he does not need a mask to avoid being identified, the distance achieves that. No, a mask is necessary when one is very close and yet wishes to remain hidden.[5]

This Purim, we should merit to see beyond the illusion of our confusing reality and recognize that God is with us, even if we can’t see Him.

Video/Song Recommendation: Purim Poetry Slam by Ari Lesser  (An amazing poetry slam that tells the Purim story and puts it in modern political context).

[1] Rabbi Akiva Tatz, M.D., Living Inspired, “Doubt and Certainty,” p. 52-53.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Rabbi Akiva Tatz, M.D. Worldmask, “Purim and the Masked World.”

[5] Id. at 205

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