If there is one primary lesson we are to take from the Purim story it’s that even in times of darkness, when God’s face is hidden, He is still here, orchestrating events behind the scenes, moving the pieces towards His ends. Man plans, God laughs. The very thing you thought was going to wipe out the Jews is turned upside down and becomes the vehicle of their salvation.
Purim is the opportune time to work on piercing through the haze and strengthen your connection to God. Here are seven ways you can connect to God, no matter who you are. Atheists are also welcome to give them a shot.
1. See God’s guiding Hand in your life
We’ve all experienced moments of serendipity – how that missed plane led you to meet your spouse. They don’t have to be so dramatic – finding a parking spot in New York City (or anywhere for that matter) can be a moment to feel God’s presence. Since God is One, nothing happens by accident; peel back the veil of nature that masks His presence and you’ll find God behind the curtain. Keep your eye open, and ask your family and friends to share their best stories of Divine providence the next you’re all together.
2. Have a heart to heart with God
Imagine a married couple living under the same roof but never really talking to each other. Unfortunately it happens. And unfortunately that cold detachment can describe many people’s relationship with God. When was the last time you had a real heart to heart with God? Not just recite the words in the prayer book, but tap into your inner core and share your deepest concerns, fears and thanks. Try it (not in public please) and see if you feel more connected to God afterwards.
3. Find beauty
Put down the iPad, the iPhone, the i-whatever and look at gorgeous world around you. When was the last time you took in a breathtaking sunrise or sunset? Cry listening to a piece of music? Be awestruck and the sheer brilliance and wonder of one of your amazing children? Did you see the incredible photos of the Niagara Falls frozen solid? The world is a reflection of God’s Infinite perfection and His fingerprints pervade the universe.
4. Learn Torah wisdom
Imagine getting hold of Einstein’s personal diaries where he lays out all the wisdom he attained in life. We would devour it, getting a glimpse of his great knowledge and feeling a far deeper connection to the man. Imagine getting a hold of God’s personal diaries. The Torah is the blueprint of creation. It’s God’s instruction manual that contains all the secrets of the universe, including life-changing wisdom about marriage, parenting, how to be good and attain meaning. When we learn Torah, we are directly connecting to God, seeing the depth of His wisdom and learning to think how He thinks. It is a series of ongoing eureka moments.
5. Appreciate His gifts to you
Who is more likely to express their genuine appreciation for dinner that your wife (or mother) makes: you or a guest? How many meals has the guest received? How many meals have you received? When we are the recipient of so much ongoing blessings in our life the terrible irony is that we start taking them for granted. Don’t. Appreciation is the bedrock for a loving relationship – with your parents, your spouse, and with God. Don’t be an ingrate. Who gave you your eyes? Your hearing? Your hot coffee this morning? Reconnect all the wondrous gifts you’ve received in your life back to their ultimate Giver, and feel the love that generates.
6. Trust Him
The people you most love are the people you most trust. And vice versa. Think about something that concerns you, that is creating some fear and angst – financial pressures, results from a medical test, the boy your daughter is dating – and let go of the fear and trust God. “Cast your burden on God and he will sustain you” (Psalms, 55:22). Try to feel that God has your back. He’s aware of your difficulty. He has the power to help and He wants to help. Nothing is too big or too small for Him. So drop the worry; it’s all good. God didn’t abandon you; He’s right here holding your hand.
7. Do a Mitzvah
Perhaps the most direct way to connect to God is to perform a mitzvah – give tzedakah, visit someone who is sick, say Shema, mark the Sabbath. The word “mitzvah” comes from the word “tzavta” which means attachment. When we do a mitzvah, a commandment, we are performing with mind, body and soul ratzon Hashem, God’s will, thereby becoming like God and growing closer to Him. Since God is not physical, closeness is measured spiritually. The more we resemble Him by aligning our will to His will, the closer we become to Him.