This is a simple and a bit naive question. I understand that a miracle everywhere is a super natural force unexplainable by current state of science.

The Purim story looks all natural, nothing truly extraordinary.

I heard some refer to it as "hidden miracles", but I find it difficult to grasp, aren't those hidden miracles called "the nature"?

So what miracle(s) do we mean saying Nes Purim and Al Hanissim?

  • 2
    why not the the confluence of events which allowed Esther to be in the right place, at the right time and be listened to, and the parallel events which led (independently) to Haman's downfall?
    – rosends
    Mar 24 '19 at 12:28
  • 1
    Isn’t the very definition of nature “hidden miracles”? To paraphrase the Michtav MeEliyahu, there’s no inherent difference between nature and miracles; both are Hashem’s direct involvement with the world. The only difference is that nature is miracles we’ve gotten used to.
    – DonielF
    Mar 24 '19 at 14:38
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    @DonielF So imagine we had בכל דור ודור קמים עלינו לכלותנו - every year. But Purim does not happen every year, it didn't happen with the destruction of the Temple. Is the lottery a miracle or statistics? What in Purim defies the laws of the Creation?
    – Al Berko
    Mar 24 '19 at 19:19
  • 1
    @AlBerko I think the whole point is that nothing about Purim defies the laws of Creation, except our survival. If we had multiple Purim’s, it would just be redundant; one is enough to get the message across.
    – DonielF
    Mar 24 '19 at 19:21
  • @AlBerko Miracles are natural events exaggerated to fit the occurrence in question.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 21 '19 at 23:30

If illogical behavior can count as a miracle, the fact that Achashverosh made ground for building the Second Temple might count as such.

If we also assume that the building requires appointing a king and exterminating Amalek (see my question "do-the-3-mitzvos-of-entering-israel-apply-to-the-second-temple"), we could notice that Achashverosh inadvertently:

  1. Raised the power of Mordechai (to a sort-of-king) and

  2. Ruled to hang Haman and his followers and fight other Amalekites (sort-of-Mechiat Amolek)

and thus fulfilling the prerequisites for the Temple. As the interpreters picture him as initially hating the idea of letting the Jews build the Temple he unknowingly allowed it.

While the Megillah only says he finally taxed all the countries, it is probably after he realized his fault.

  • If a miracle, as you say, defies the laws of creation, then it is a breach to natural law and can never be true. Marcels, are simply natural events exaggerated to fit the occasion. For example, Ralbag interprets that the sun did not really stand still. If it did, everything would die. Instead, he thinks the miracle was that Joshua beat his enemies very quickly. This was the miracle. Another example can be the parting of the Sea of Reeds. It wasn't an extraordinary event, rather it took place (naturally) when the Jews were trapped between the Sea and the Egyptian army. That was the miracle.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 21 '19 at 23:34

The "hidden miracle" of Purim is the power of the Passover. Let me explain.

The events in Esther occurred over the Passover. While Haman the Agagite relied on the timing of the divination of dice, or the purim, Esther had banked on the timing of Passover. In other words, the day that Haman hanged on the gallows was the turning point in the Exodus narrative, when the fate of the Egyptian army was cast (like purim, or dice) by Pharaoh, who decided to pursue the Jews. Remember, Esther delayed the disclosure of her petition to King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) by one day (until the 17th of Nisan), because this was the precise date for the turning point day in the Exodus narrative, when the fate of Pharaoh's army was "cast."

Please remember: Haman first announced the proclamation of the destruction of the Jews on the eve of the Day of Preparation, which is the 13th of Nisan (which is the eve of Passover).

Esther 3:12
12 Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and it was written just as Haman commanded to the king’s satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the princes of each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language, being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the king’s signet ring. (emphasis added)

So the story starts on Passover! From this point in the narrative until the end of Chapter 7, the events in the Book of Esther span the Passover meal on the Jewish calendar (14-21 Nisan). That is, the Law of Moses had commanded the Passover meal and then the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. However, Esther invoked a fast instead. The three days of Esther's fast are remarkable because they coincide with the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. If this hypothesis is correct, then Esther may have chosen three days to fast because that was the time that Moses requested from Pharaoh as the time necessary needed to worship (Exod 5:3 and Exod 8:27). If this hypothesis is correct, the three days of fasting by Esther and the Jews was their worship time. The following graph depicts the Passover in relation to the decisive day when the fate of the Egyptians was cast (like purim or dice) three days after Passover.

This graph depicts the 14-17 of Nisan, which were the dates that Moses led the Jews out of Egypt and Pharaoh made his fateful decision, which was the turning point of the Exodus narrative for the fate of the Egyptian army.

Esther fasted during the 14-16 Nisan, and prepared her banquet for the king on the late afternoon of the 16 Nisan. (As noted, she and her fellow Jews would therefore not have eaten the Passover nor have partaken of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.) The late afternoon would mark the end of her fast for three days "night or day" according to Esther 4:16. At this very point in the Book of Esther (when she gives the first banquet) appears the following verse.

Esther 5:7 (NASB)
7 So Esther replied, “My petition and my request is [. . . .]
(ellipses added for emphasis)

In the Hebrew text, she does not finish the thought of the sentence. This verse is PIVOTAL (the turning point), because it occurs in the very center of the Book of Esther according to the endnotes of the Masoretic Text, which is found at the top of Page 932 of the PDF version online. This verse is in the very middle of the book, and so is the literary "hidden miracle" or TURNING POINT in the narrative. This verse is also the day that Esther breaks her fast, which occurs on the Festival of First Fruits, when a sheave offering was waived before the Lord in anticipation of his blessing to the Jews. Fifty from this date was when God gave the Law to the Jews at Sinai according to the Babylonian Talmud (Pesahim, Folio 68B). In other words, these very days portended very ominous spiritual power, but in the favor of the Jews. This was the apparent "script" followed by Esther.

If the foregoing paragraphs are correct, then Esther was following the "script" of the Exodus narrative. While there is no explicit mention of God (or even prayer) in the Book of Esther, it is very evident that Esther relied on the literal Torah (the Word of God as divine revelation) as her guide through the darkness of an imminent holocaust event. She met spiritual darkness with the divine power of the Word of God as typified in the Exodus narrative. In this regard, she postponed her petitions to King Ahasuerus (Xerxes), because the following day was the 17th of Nisan, which was the fateful (turning point) day when God had ordained the destruction of the army of Pharaoh, who was the enemy of the Jews. This is the logic of the apparent "script" followed by Esther. She did not know what tomorrow would portend, but she knew the "die would be cast" according to the Exodus "script": that is, the following day would somehow have to be the very day that God would ordain the destruction of arrogant Haman. And that is what happened.


The Book of Esther revolves around the timing of Passover and its significance as the "hidden miracle" for the demonstration of the power of God. This divine power destroys not only the enemies of the Jews, but also defeats the wicked spiritual powers behind them. Haman relied on dice (purim) to divine the most auspicious time to destroy the Jews, and implied here was divination, or reliance on outside wicked spiritual power. The Torah and Psalms are replete with references to defeating "the gods of the Egyptians" during the Exodus narrative (see Num 33:4 for example), and of course, as many, many scholars have observed, the ten plagues of Moses appeared to be in direct confrontation with Egyptian deities, or wicked spiritual powers.

In the same way, following the same "script," Esther's faith had demonstrated that complete reliance and trust in the Torah (Exodus narrative) was sufficient power to defeat the Jew's enemies and the wicked spiritual powers behind them. Prayer and God are never mentioned in any explicit terms in the Book of Esther, but the "script" of the Exodus narrative is very pronounced as the fate of Haman (and Pharaoh's army) was cast that fateful day of the 17th of Nisan, and that is the "hidden miracle" of Purim (the casting of fate).

  • Jewish tradition generally assumes that Pharaoh and his army drowned in the Red Sea on 21st Nissan. Do you have a source for your assertion that it happened on the 17th?
    – Joel K
    Jan 31 '20 at 7:19
  • @JoelK - Joel, I’ll look for a source, and, if you do not mind, please identify a source for your assertion of the 21st of Nisan. Thank you.
    – Joseph
    Jan 31 '20 at 14:31
  • @JoelK - I owe you a cup of coffee. You were right. I found an earlier source than Rashi by five centuries, which is Seder Olam V, which has an English translation. I have revised my response accordingly. Thank you.
    – Joseph
    Feb 2 '20 at 0:54

Hashem causing Achashverosh to change his mind when he didn't really want to, is a bigger nes than a mere change of nature.

Nature has no opinions or interests of its own. If Hashem wants it do something out of the ordinary it does it. No questions asked or opposition offered.

A person however has Bechira and a Yetzer Harah of his own. For Hashem to cause him to do something against his bechira is a bigger nes than nature doing what Hashem told it to do.

We, who are so used to people using their Bechira and an unchanging nature perceive a nes when we see the opposite of the latter and are clueless when the opposite of the former happens. That is why Purim is a hidden Nes

  • Doesn't the person only have free will because God allows him to have it? Why is overriding that harder than overriding any other general-principle God made, such as nature?
    – Double AA
    Mar 3 '20 at 2:58
  • Neither are hard for Hashem in the slightest but someone doing something against his Bechira is a greater change to the rules of nature.Bechira by it's very nature allows someone to do something other than what Hashem wants . Taking away that ability and then causing him to do something is an extra step.
    – Schmerel
    Mar 3 '20 at 3:08
  • Because it's two steps? Is the amount of steps involved entirely something you're making up for how you choose to define your concepts? Step one: stop natural laws. Step two: make new natural laws. Whatever.
    – Double AA
    Mar 3 '20 at 3:26

The chassam soffer says ....

that the only miracle in the megilla that makes zero sense and is 100 percent miracle is the king going nuts and vashti going krazy and advisors saying kill her and he killing her

And there are some who say......

that the day of purim was by laws of מזלות, a bad day for jews and a good day for haman to wipe them out

so the fact that in the end on that day it became אשר ישלטו המה בשונאיהם is a huge nes of שידוד מזלות ומערכות because it was a total opposite

שיף דרשות (end of chullin )even adds it was a true כי בדבר זדונלה גר״א. מהרם שיף. מלבים. ועוד

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