The Hidden Script of Your Life
Many important events mark our lives. But what value or
significance would you attribute to a trivial experience,
like, say, a case of insomnia?
On a broader scale how do you see your overall life: Is
your life disjointed or cohesive? As you live from day to
day, do you ever feel that in your struggle for survival
you may be missing the bigger picture? Does the minutiae
of your schedule (work, pressures) shroud your larger priorities
– like finding love and building a relationship? In
time of pain and anguish, are you able to recognize that
these dark moments may be part of a greater story? Can you
see the thread that connects the fragments of your journey,
or do you just move from moment to moment, trying to make
the best of what comes your way?
Well, Purim teaches us a thing or two about the seemingly
random events in our lives.
The great codifier of Jewish law Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov
Halevi, 1360-1427) writes, that the Megillah reader raises
his voice when he begins reading the words in the Megiilah
(the scroll read on Purim relating the entire Purim story)
“that night the king’s sleep was disturbed,”
because the primary Purim miracle begins at this point.
Due to his insomnia, the king ordered that the book of
chronicles, which recorded the history of the king’s
reign, be brought and read to him. The story they read was
how Mordechai, a while back, had saved the king’s
life from an assassination attempt. This evoked the king’s
appreciation to reward Mordechai, which began a series of
events, as related in the Megillah, which led to the Purim
miracle rescuing the entire Jewish nation from annihilation.
This reflects one of the most powerful themes of Purim:
What you see is not what you get. On the surface level,
the king’s restless night – as well as many
other seemingly unrelated and insignificant events in the
story – would be dismissed as a trivial fluke. In
truth, it turns out that this becomes a critical juncture
that changed the course of history! Had the king slept peacefully
(and why shouldn’t he?), he would not have been reminded
of Mordechai saving his life and the rest of the narrative
would never have unfolded as it had.
The Purim story – and the story behind the story – teaches
us how to look at our lives in a completely new and revolutionary
The Talmud says: “On who reads the Megillah backwards has
not fulfilled the mitzvah.” Why in the world would anyone
want to read the story backwards?! The Baal Shem Tov explains
the statement this way: Anyone who reads the Purim narrative
as if it happened “back when” in the past (in effect, reading
the story backwards, with the end being closer to us than
the beginning), has not fulfilled the mitzvah, which demands
of us to read and see the story as if it is unfolding and
playing itself out today, from the beginning of the story
till its conclusion.
The story of Purim is the story of our lives. Our lives,
just like the Purim narrative, is driven by a hidden script,
which is hard to recognize at the time, but in retrospect
patterns emerge as we discover the underlying narrative
that leads to salvation. A bigger picture takes shape from
the connecting dots of seemingly disconnected events, including
the smallest details that we may completely ignore and disregard
due to their triviality.
Imagine: A man can’t fall asleep and the destiny of a people
is changed forever! How many other quirky details in existence
are affecting our very lives as we speak?
Long before Kierkegaard wrote that "you can only understand
life backwards, but we must live it forwards," we have
the story of Purim that tells us about the mysterious internal
drama that shapes our outer lives. G-d's name is never mentioned
in the entire Megillah, emphasizing that the Divine Choreographer
remains behind the scenes, even as He orchestrates a series
of events, which may appear random to us, when in fact they
are frames of a larger drama unfolding.
Purim teaches us how to discern the hidden narrative playing
itself out in our lives today. How to see the forest for
the trees. It helps us transcend the moment and connect
it to the birds' eye vision of your life story.
So the next time you cannot sleep – or experience
some else seemingly trivial – you never know: It may
be the beginning of your salvation.