As a Safed writer, I was once asked by a secular Israeli publication to contribute an article about Kabbala, Chassidut, meditation, etc. - all those special elements of Judaism which are identified with the city of Safed. I did so. The feedback was that the mysticism and "spirituality" in it was excellent, but "there is too much mention of 'G‑d'".

The name 'G‑d' is never mentioned….

I could crack a few good jokes here, but I'll refrain. Instead, in the spirit of the season, I'll simply say, if that comment reflects your feelings too, dear reader, do I have the book for you!

It chronicles a series of events and circumstances that would seem to have been conspicuously effected by divine intervention, but the name "G‑d" is never mentioned. And yet, it is one of the twenty-four books of the Holy Scripture! Did you figure it out yet?

That's right. The Scroll of Esther, read publicly evening and morning on the festival of Purim.

Even if G‑d is not in the text, He can never be removed from the picture!

Many reasons have been offered to explain this anomaly. Among them: perhaps Esther was concerned that her book would not be accepted as Holy Scripture. Or that when the Persians translated it for their official annals, they would substitute the name of one of their deities.

But it goes deeper. A main motif of the Scroll of Esther, the Megillah, is disguise - things not being what they seem to be. Even the name "Esther" in Hebrew connotes hiddenness and invokes the theme of G‑d's concealment from us: "Anochi hastir astir panai/I shall surely hide My face." (Deut. 31:18)

This is certainly appropriate, as one of the striking things about the incredible succession of events is how easily (for a biblical book) they could be rationalized as a series of natural coincidences. Indeed, with the exception of Esther and Mordechai, it took years until people gained enough perspective to realize the extraordinary extent of G‑d's involvement.

So, just because you don't see Him or recognize Him or think of Him, it doesn't mean He is not there. That is why in this case I didn't mind re-writing the article. The bottom line is: even if G‑d is not in the text, He can never be removed from the picture!