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One of the laws governing the reading of the Megillah is that, "One who reads the Megillah backwards has not fulfilled his obligation" (Talmud, Megillah 17a). The simple meaning of this law is that the Book of Esther must be read in order, not, say, beginning with chapter 10 and ending with chapter 1.

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (Founder of Chassidism, 1698-1760) explained the deeper significance of this law: One who reads the Book of Esther "backwards" -- as the account of an event that happened thousands of years ago -- has missed the entire point of the mitzvah of reading the Megillah. The story told by the Megillah -- of the hand of G‑d concealed within the most "circumstantial" occurrences, of a people awakening their intrinsic commitment to G‑d and deriving from that the strength to persevere against all odds -- is the story of our everyday lives, in all times and under all circumstances.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
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Learn about the life and teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century mystic who permanently changed the Jewish landscape.
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