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Be the Miracle

This Saturday night, we’re going to celebrate Purim, that happy festival that commemorates the redemption of the Jews from being annihilated by the evil Persian Vizier, Haman (Boooooo) about 2,500 years ago.  On Purim, we hear the reading of the Megillah, the Book of Esther, we give gifts (usually of food) to our friends and to the poor and overindulge in alcohol (not recommended).  It’s a day where everything we think of as normal gets tossed on its head.   The Jews were supposed to be exterminated but, in the end, we were the victors.  Mordechai was supposed to be publicly hanged but instead, it was Haman (Booooo) who was hanged (Yay).  Esther was a poor Jewish refugee and became the Queen.  Perhaps the most curious thing about the Book of Esther which tells the story of Purim is the fact that it is the only book in the entire Tanach (the Hebrew Bible) in which the Name of God is never mentioned.

How is it possible that a book which contains so many miracles and the saving of our people from certain destruction could not mention God?  Is it possible that the “hand” of God didn’t have a hand in our redemption?  As I said, nothing in the Book of Esther or the holiday of Purim is actually as it appears.  Hidden wonders abound.  There are even hints that the Book of Esther speaks not only of events that took place in Persia so long ago but also to events that were to transpire in the future.  It is said that we can tell what events took place during the time of the actual story from what would be in the future, by the use of the Hebrew word מלך – King.  It is said that when the text speaks of הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, King Achashverosh, it is speaking of events during the time of Esther but, when it speaks only of הַמֶּלֶךְ, the King, the text is speaking about future events.  Whether this is true or not, the interesting point is how our tradition gleans lessons from every word.  In fact, there is a dimension of Torah study called gematria, which looks to the numerical value of words for even deeper insights. 

In Hebrew, every letter has several purposes: 1) letters have a sound frequency, 2) a shape, and 3) a numerical value.  Yes. In Hebrew, letters are also numbers.  So, in Hebrew א is 1, ב is 2, ג is 3, ד is 4, and so on through the whole alphabet. If you look at a Hebrew calendar or a Hebrew Bible, you’ll see that dates are written with letters, not numbers, as are chapters and verses in the Tanach.  Gematria is the study that says when words have the same numerical value, they share a deeper meaning. If this is true, then we can ask if there’s a deeper possible meaning to the question of “God” or HaMelech, the King in the Book of Esther.  The Gematria of Melech is מ – 40, ל – 30, and ך – 20 = 90.  Interestingly, the gematria of water is also 90: מ 0 40, י is 10, and ם – is 40 = 90.


At Repair the Sea, our Mission is to share the spiritual wonders of Water and the Sea from a Jewish perspective and to raise awareness and encourage action to address the many threats facing the aquatic environment.  Like the Jewish People in Persia so long ago, the Ocean is under threat of destruction.  Like the Jewish People so long ago, it would appear that the Ocean needs a miracle to survive.  If our people were saved by the hidden hand of HaMelech at Purim, perhaps that same Melech is connected to HaMayim, and can save the Ocean today.  And when I say save the Ocean, I mean save us.  Because the Ocean as we know it is dying.  And, as I have said many times, if the Ocean dies … we all die; Jewish or otherwise, because this planet cannot sustain life with a dead Ocean.  But the Ocean is so vast, the problems so great, and the economic interests that are exploiting the resources are so powerful that it would seem we need a miracle to save the Ocean.  A miracle indeed is what we need, but there is a hard and fast rule in Judaism: Trust in God but don’t rely on miracles.

The miracle of Purim is that the Jewish people were united at that time.  We were united to defend ourselves against those who would destroy us and prevailed.  Our unity is what caused the miracle.  If those of us in the Jewish Community who care about the aquatic environment followed the model of our ancestors and were unified in our resolve to defend the water and all those who live in it, we could make a difference and maybe even bring about a miracle ourselves.  If we all resolve to stop utilizing single-use plastic products, we just might bring about a miracle.  If we all resolve to reduce or stop eating fish altogether, we just might bring about a miracle.  If we all act as a seed of change within our community and educate others, we just might bring about a miracle.  But there is so much we can do to make a difference.  We just need the will and passion to do it.  And it’s not just the Ocean.  It’s every river, lake and stream that’s polluted.  Whether it’s in Florida, California, Nebraska, Wisconsin or anywhere else in the world, the water is under attack and, like our ancestors of old who were united in their defense, we need to be united in our efforts to save the water.  And for those who say, there are far more important issues to deal with at the moment, I will remind us all: Water is Life.  Without it… we die.  What could be more important, more holy than protecting that?  It might take a miracle, but don’t rely on miracles.  We need to take action ourselves.  Together, WE can be the Miracle.

Happy Purim


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