One of the most renowned aspects of the Purim celebration is masquerading . Children — and even adults — don masks and wear costumes.

What is the source of this custom? On a very basic level, it is an expression of happiness and Purim is a day when our joy is given full expression. Its significance, however, is historically related to the Purim miracle. Why was Esther successful? Because she concealed her identity and Achashverush, the Persian king, did not know that she was Jewish until it became crucially important for him to know this.

On a deeper level, the concept of concealment is intrinsically related to the mystical core of Purim. Our Sages tell us: Where is there an allusion to the story of Esther in the Torah? The phrase hastier astir — “I will conceal.” And indeed, G‑dliness is concealed throughout the story of Purim. On a superficial level, the narrative reads like a palace intrigue. One can follow the story without being aware of the working of G‑d’s hand. Indeed, the Megillah, the book of the Bible that records the story of Purim, does not even mention G‑d’s name.

One the other hand, the very name Megillah relates to the Hebrew word gilui, meaning “revelation,” and Purim is considered one of the greatest miracles, surpassing in a certain way even the splitting of the sea and the miracles of the Exodus from Egypt.

How is Purim superior? Because the miracles of the Exodus broke the natural order. The ordinary pattern of day-to-day existence hinders G‑d’s will from being expressed. On Purim, by contrast, G‑d’s will was carried out even though the natural order remained unchanged.

If one had asked a bystander in Shushan if there was any way, Haman, the Persian courtier who desired to destroy the Jews would have been humiliated and vanquished and the Jewish people saved, he would have looked at you in disbelief. Haman was the most powerful person in the land and wore the king’s signet ring. There was no natural way that his plan to annihilate the Jews could be foiled.

Yet, that is exactly what happened. Moreover, Haman wasn’t struck down with a bolt of lightening. Instead, the very same court and king that elevated Haman to his position of prominence had him executed and the Jews saved. The natural order became supernatural, as it were. The G‑dliness that was concealed suffused the natural order and took control over it.

This also explains why Purim is celebrated through rejoicing in a very physical way. Yes, we listen to the Megillah and add a special Purim prayer, but the primary element of the observance of the holiday is feasting, simply celebrating in a physical way to the extent that our Sages say that it is an obligation to become so drunk on Purim that one does not know the difference between “Cursed be Haman” and “Blessed be Mordechai.” Since the miracle permeated through to the most material levels, its commemoration also involves the body as well as the soul.

This celebration should not be restricted to one’s own household. We give shalach manos — presents of food — to our friends and matanos l’evyonim — gifts to the poor, so that they also should tangibly experience the joy of this holiday.

Looking to the Horizon

The above concepts also shed light on a saying of our Sages: “In the era of the resurrection, all of the festivals will be nullified with the exception of Purim.”

Why will Purim continue to be observed in that future era? Because its theme parallels the spiritual state that will prevail at that time.

Today, there is a natural order in which G‑dliness is not revealed, a state of concealment not unlike that which prevailed at the time of the Purim miracle. Yes, there is an entire framework of spiritual reality that exists, but it is known only abstractly. We are not palpably aware of it.

With the coming of Mashiach, this will radically change. Spirituality will become as real to us as a dollar bill is today. And yet, the world as we know it will not cease to exist. Instead, within the context of material reality, the inner spiritual truth will be revealed. The same dynamic that was at work during the Purim miracle will be expressed in a complete sense. In that vein, our joyous celebration on Purim anticipates and precipitates the ultimate celebration our people will experience at the coming of Mashiach.