Purim 2021

rthodox Jews read the Megillat Esther (the Story of Esther) during the Jewish holiday of Purim, in the street in Efrat, in keeping with the restrictions of the spread of the Coronavirus, February 25, 2021. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** קריאת מגילת אסתר פורים אפרת קורונה רחוב
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I heard Megilat Esther last year in Washington, D.C., at an event in the home of Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States. This year I heard MIgilat Esther outside wearing a coat in the cold, under a Jerusalem street light.

What a year. I have been acquainted with this street light since Kol Nidrei on Yom Kippur. Many of those praying in the street in Israel are familiar with it and others like it. We stand under it – social distancing on the one hand, while trying to catch a little light to see our prayer books on the other.

And the words lit up tonight under the street light were especially relevant – about a nation that knows how to unite in the face of distress, about preserving Jewish identity in the midst of a foreign culture but, above all, about the way in which distress can disappear. In Megilat Esther there is no revealed miracle. There is a sequence of strange events that is difficult to explain. A genocidal decree is written and then the nation unites and Esther succeeds, baruch Hashem, in canceling the decree. "V'nahafoch hu" (everything flips). This is not the splitting of the Red Sea, this is a miracle that happens within nature and everyday life when everything turns out for the best.

This week I interviewed Dr. Gadi Segal, manager of the corona department at the Shiba Tel Hashomer Medical Center. He humbly related how little we truly know about this virus. Beside calling upon us to strictly observe all the pandemic guidelines, he said: There is a highly logical scenario whereby the corona will simply disappear, because viruses can suddenly disappear, without explanation.

It's not an exaggeration to pray this Purim that "everything flips." It's possible that everything will flip for the best, and that we will actualize the words that appear at the end of the Megilah: "light and gladness and joy and honor."

Happy Purim.

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