Insights In The Midst Of Chaos

Thoughts For Purim

By Gabriella Keren

Drawing by Gabriella Keren

Some forty years ago, in a domain known as the science of Chaos, meteorologist Edward Lawrence, who put together a model of climate "behavior", reached an incredible breakthrough.

Lawrence discovered that meteorological forecasts were extremely sensitive to unexpected minute variations and changes concerning the time and place of natural manifestations. He constructed a model that operated according to certain laws and discovered, in so doing, that the fulfillment of a weather forecast could be transformed at the last minute by something as arbitrary as the movement of a butterfly's wings.

Based upon his research and results, Lawrence established a theory called the Effect of the Butterfly. This phenomenon is best understood in the form of a question that may seem surrealistic and far-fetched: "Can the fluttering of a butterfly's wings in Brazil ignite a chain of events that will eventually provoke a tornado in Texas?" The answer is…Yes!

The Effect of the Butterfly complies almost perfectly with the Scroll of Esther, whose events occur within a story knitted by a series of effects, that seem arbitrary, disconnected, chaotic and ruled by chance alone. At first, as the scroll begins to unfold, it seems that there is no logical development between one event and another. It is only after the scroll is completely unfolded, that we realize as in the chaotic manifestations of nature, that each element, almost absurd in itself, (such as the fluttering wings of a butterfly), was thoroughly planned by the author of the Megillah. Queen Vashti's illogical refusal to strip before the nobles of the Kingdom ignites a series of events that eventually lead to the fall of Hamman.

But before reaching its climax, the scroll offers a picture which is rich in details, color and confusion. Asked by the King to define the honors to be bestowed upon a man of merit, Hamman advises the King to glorify the candidate by mounting him on a splendid white horse, wearing the King's robes. Hamman is unaware that the King's chosen one is not he, but Mordechai, his worst enemy. A genial element of theatrical surprise!

A sort of insomnia that perturbs the King's sleep unleashes this unexpected event. He asks his advisor for the book of chronicles of the Kingdom - the political annals of the Royal court. He opens the book at random and which page does he fall upon? None other than the one describing the positive role carried out by Mordechai during an old intrigue to complot against the King's life. This sudden irruption of the past opens a process that will quickly bring the fall of Hamman.

Later in the text, when Hamman, thinking he will be the guest of honor of King Achashverosh and Queen Esther, reaches the palace for a second t?te ? t?te with the royal couple, Esther, who can hardly mumble a few words, ends up making a double revelation. She unveils the intentions of Hamman to exterminate her people as well as her Jewish identity, so far concealed from the King. The enraged King exits the room to breathe a little fresh air and upon his return, what does he find? Hamman, lying on the Queen's bed (actually, imploring grace)…What? You are going to rape the Queen in my presence and in my palace?

While other prophecies reveal divine intention via the words and actions of a chosen prophet way ahead of their concrete fulfillment, the story of the Megillah unfolds in the form of a story that happens in real time, within its protagonists' total lack of awareness. Like our own current history, being written every day in the mass media, we don't know where we are going.

Both individually as well as nationally, our lives transpire in an atmosphere of chaos, where more often than not, our plans are altered, despite our efforts to draw out plans and keep timetables.

We find ourselves being continuously distracted by a series of unpredictable events which appear in different disguises such as sudden future flashes, earthquakes, blocked sinks, delays caused by traffic, cancelled meetings, over-sleeping, insomnia, computer bugs and God spare us, terrorist attacks. Like in the Megillah or the meteorological forecast, our linear reality becomes chaotic when unforeseen events happen. And they happen all the time.

In the apparent chaos of our existence, which is nothing else but the unfolding scroll of the history of humanity, we are unable to see the end, either a nuclear war that will destroy the world or the final redemption, leading to peace. All we are able to see is the continuous chaos wildly taking over our lives, our nation and our world.

But at Purim, after a few drinks, we are elevated above the predicament of this unbearable reality. We are able to touch a higher consciousness, above logic and reason, to the point of being unable to distinguish the difference between Mordechai and Hamman. In this sphere, where good and evil, war or peace, are all part of the same divine plan, everything can be altered by something as insignificant as the fluttering of a butterfly's wings or a King's insomnia.


About Gabriella Keren

The Matchmaker

Hear O Israel

Articles published in HopeWays' 'News & Views' section




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