The Concealed Face of God

A theological explanation for why God is not mentioned in the Book of Esther

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While it is not clear that Esther and Mordechai fully internalize the lessons of transforming danger and fear into a productive model for a lasting partnership with God, there are indications of a move towards a kind resolution – or at least resolve – as the narrative concludes. Esther's decree to establish permanent feasting, gifts to the poor, and the sending of portions to neighbors to commemorate the events of her day (Esther 9:22) is done in a language of commandment generally reserved for the divine. This may indicate her desire for reestablishment of a commandment-based community, thus inviting God to reconnect with the Jews on terms God can understand. It may also suggest that Jewish leadership has matured enough to take on the mantel of providing religious commandments and political and social balance for the Jewish people in a period of God's lasting absence.

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Stephen H. Arnoff

Stephen Hazan Arnoff is the executive director of the 14th Street Y. He was previously the managing editor of Zeek and the director of Artists Networks and Programming at the Makor/Steinhardt Center of the 92nd Street Y.