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March 2019 - Message from the Rabbi

This month, we celebrate the joyous festival of Purim. We have a great Purim program planned which yo ucan read about further into the bulletin.The musical theme for this year’s Purim service will be “Born to Shpiel: a Bruce Sprinsteen Purim.” You won’t want to miss it! The festivities take place on March 17th.

According to many rabbinic authorities, the miracle of Purim surpasses in significance all of the other miracles in the Torah. When one thinks about it, it seems ridiculous. How could the miracle of Purim be greater than the splitting of the Red Sea, the ten plagues, or the manna falling from the sky? All of these occurrences seem much more miraculous and supernatural than the story of Purim as recorded in the Book of Esther. However, the holiday of Purim teaches us that miracles do not only occur when God alters nature.

The miracle of Purim happened completely within nature's boundaries. A king gets drunk at a party and consequently orders his wife's execution. His new queen (Esther) happens to be a Jew and has an uncle (Mordechai) in the nobility. This Jewish uncle uncovers a plot and saves the king's life. An anti-Semitic viceroy (Haman) lobbies to have all the Jews executed. The king, ignorant of the origin of his wife and the person who saved his life, allows Haman to make plans to execute the Jews. The queen reveals her roots and turns the king against his wicked viceroy.

All these events seem to occur naturally within the normal course of life -no lightning, no frogs, no food falling from the sky. The miracle of Purim seemed to be just a normal part of life.

From the story of Purim, we learn that occurrences do not have to be supernatural to be miracles. God performs miracles in our lives every day. We wake up in the morning. We have air to breathe and food to nourish our bodies day in and day out. These are all miracles of God. We have come to take it for granted that there is oxygen in the air or that when we put seeds in the ground, food comes forth to sustain our bodies. These miracles are the greatest miracles, because they happen every day and keep us alive.

When one prays or recites a blessing on food, one realizes the magnitude of these miracles which occur in our everyday lives. God does not need us to offer blessings. Rather, praying and reciting blessings on food and events are for our own benefit, so that we can realize God's presence in our day-to-day lives. If we take these daily miracles for granted, we are distancing ourselves from feeling God's presence in our lives. However, by recognizing the magnitude of these wondrous miracles, our lives can be dramatically improved.

The book of Esther is the only book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God –it is for us to put God into the story –it is for us to see the miracles that God performs even when it looks (at first blush) that God is not there.

Purim is also the holiday for Jewish gift giving. We are commanded at the end of the book of Estherto send portions (shelach manot) one to the other. One of our beautiful congregational customs is that we prepare Shelach Manot (Purim Gifts) of small treats for our most “Senior” members of TABI. We ask congregants who attend the Purim service to help partricipate in this Mitzvah and deliver the gifts. I hope you will join us for a fun and festive Purim on March 17th!

Enjoy and Happy Purim!


Gary A. Mazo, Rabbi