Thoughts on Purim and the Unexpected

A few years ago I wrote a piece on Purim, specifically the event in the Megillah, entitled "Quite the Contrary."  Many key events in the story happen contrary to expectations, and the ostensible cause and effect belies what really is going on.  Related to that idea is that of the unexpected.

Amalek's attack was unexpected.  The element of surprise, of course, is a strategical advantage in warfare.  However, here the sneakiness is seen as a manifestation of their irreparable evil.  The unexpected can also be good, as we see in the birth of Yitzchak.  "Tzchok asa li Elokim; kol hashomea yitzchak li"Sarah exclaimed upon the birth of her son after so many decades of infertility.  The unexpected quality of his birth inspires laughter.  But here is it is not the incredulous laughter she is taken to task for when the imminent pregnancy is announced, but one of happiness.  It seems a forerunner of the ideal of "az yimale schok pinu" [then our mouths will be filled with laughter] that we visualize as our response to the ultimate redemption.  Yitzchak himself is the figure who saves the Jewish people in an unexpected way.  When Hashem seems to have lost all patience with the sins of His children, the other patriarchs can think of no defense.  It is Yitzchak who comes up with an unexpected argument.  Rather than arguing for their strengths, he wins on the basis of their weaknesses. Moshiach himself comes from an unexpected source, the scion of Moav via Ruth who made a rather unexpected marriage with Boaz.


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