Esther, Hidden One
Rabbi Hannah Dresner
The name “Esther” means “hidden one,” and our Chassidic Masters interpreted the theme of concealment and revelation in the Purim Megillah as pointing to God’s own hidden-ness from us, and God’s desire to be sought out and revealed. They turn to the Talmud, where the rabbis ask: “Where is Esther revealed in the Torah?” She is revealed in Deuteronomy, as God says: ‘Ve-astir et panai.’ ‘And I will surely hide my face.'”
The Torah commentary, Ituray Torah, tells that Rabbi Dov Baer of Mezritch and his disciples were once out for an evening stroll. They came upon a little girl hiding in an alcove, weeping. “Why are you crying, little girl?” asked the rabbi. “I was playing hide-and-seek with my friends,” replied the little girl, “but they didn’t come looking for me!”
Tears sprang to the eyes of the Rebbe; he sighed, and turned to his students saying: “In the sorrow and the frustration of this little girl, I hear the weeping of the Shechinah: “ve-astir et panai” – “I have hidden myself, but no one comes looking for me…”
It is, indeed, our task to seek God out and invite God in – in all Her forms, releasing Her from all the places in which She is hidden in us, amongst us, and in the world.
If you were present at Or Shalom this past Tuesday evening for our multi-faith devotional service, United in Compassion, perhaps you felt, as I did, a revelation. Godliness filled us and our sanctuary as we opened to receive the energy of faith leaders and participants from a diversity of religious paths. What was revealed both filled us and unfolded us in hope. And with our offer of engagement, we honored a fuller awareness of God in her totality. We allowed God to be a bit more fully seen.
I like to think that just as we were a comfort to one another, we were a comfort to God – seeking Her, and finding her there, right in our midst, in all her prismatic diversity.
In the spirit of embracing a lonely God, a God who longs for us to find her in the game of hide-and-seek that life can sometimes be, let’s be aware, noticing, and appreciative. Let’s reveal God, waiting to be discovered in our neighbors, in our environment, and in our tasks.
Good Purim to all, and Shabbat Shalom!