The New Synagogue of Long Island
The Synagogue for Spiritual Judaism


Purim is a festive Jewish holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from their enemies in the biblical Book of Esther. Purim is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Adar, which usually falls sometime in February or March. (This year corresponding to March 21st).  According to Jewish tradition, Adar is the happiest, most joyous month of the Hebrew calendar.  In fact, its motto is “When Adar comes, joy is increased.”  The abundance of joy in Adar is primarily due to the Jewish holiday of Purim.

Purim is so-called because the villain of the story, Haman, cast the “pur” (the “lot” as in “lottery”) against the Jews yet failed to destroy them.  The most important Purim custom is reading the Purim Story from the Scroll of Esther, also called the Megillah. Jews usually attend synagogue for this special reading. Whenever Haman’s (the villain's) name is mentioned people will boo, howl, hoot and shake noisemakers (groggers) to   express their dislike of him. 


Esther is the reluctant heroine of the story who did not want to take part in the Persian version of America's Next Top Model that King Achashverosh created to find himself a new wife. When her turn arrived to meet the king, she is the only one who is not interested in the M*A*C goodie bag to make herself up.  When she was offered an AMEX Platinum and a day at the mall before the meeting, Esther said, “No thanks.” She wins the contest anyway.


The Book of Esther reveals her secret by mentioning that the king loved her more than any of the women for “she had grace and kindness over all the others.” Apparently it was not just her good looks but this “grace and kindness” that did the trick in securing her victory.  Esther was one of those rare people who have the unique talent of allowing others to feel as if she is one of them by instantly connecting with and relating to whomever she meets. She knew how to listen, see another's needs, and concentrate on them and not herself. By giving another this total and undivided attention, every person who came in contact with Esther felt she knew and understood them.  This is the “grace and kindness” that King Achashverosh immediately felt upon being in her presence.


The Book of Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention G-d once. It is a story filled with coincidences, implausible turns of events, and improbable incidents. Although the word serendipity may describe these “fortuitous happenstances,” it does not explain them. Even though Esther appears to be the heroine of the story, from a Jewish perspective, G-d is the one who is pulling the strings. G-d is masked in the guise of serendipity.  Serendipity is G-d whispering to us.  When we heed G-d’s voice, we will see G-d everywhere-- in our hearts, in the hearts of others, in the day to day events that shape and form the tapestry of our lives. 


Be like Queen Esther – reveal your inner “grace and kindness.”  Peel away the layers of nonsense and glitz.  “Let It Go” and find the part of you that -- like Esther -- can pierce through any armor, even your own.


With best wishes for a joyous Purim and May we live to see a world free of Hamans.


Rabbi Stuart Paris, HaKohen

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Torah Completion and Celebration

Sunday, May 15, 2016

7 Iyar, 5776

Rabbi Stuart Paris and Rabbi Gedaliah Druin

Rabbi Gedaliah Druin completing the last letter of the Torah