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Thursday, March 23, 2017

On March 17, I will have the privilege to run in the Jerusalem half marathon to help benefit Kav L’Noar. Running with me will be three rabbanim who hope to complete their very first 10k race through a new and exciting program called RabbisCanRun.org. But why would rabbanim choose to complicate their busy lives by committing to run a 6-mile race, and just days after Purim no less? The truth is, this month is a perfect time for a marathon, and running is just the right exercise to prepare for the Yom Tov of Purim.

On Purim we celebrate the salvation of our people from Haman’s evil plot. However, our redemption did not come through the delivery of a great miracle. Instead, our nation was saved through a series of coincidental events that occurred at the right time and place. But why did Hashem not save us with a stupendous miracle? The answer is that Purim is about searching for God in the midst of a dark world. This ability to seek out Hashem in the midst of darkness is also known as emunah. The goal of a Jew is to seek Hashem when He is not easily seen, or, as my rebbe says, to learn how to dance in the dark.

For some, the idea of running is synonymous with a root canal. The truth is that running provides many benefits for both the body and the soul. In fact, running creates a context where we can put our body through a challenging ordeal and find the inner strength to overcome the difficulty by believing in our abilities and turning to Hashem for His Divine support. Like Purim, running can help us develop a greater level of emunah and remind us of our dependency on Hashem.

How important is this ability to see Hashem in the darkness, to notice God’s small miracles through the normalcy of nature? The Ramban in Parshat Bo explains that from the great miracles, a person admits to the existence of hidden miracles. He goes on to say, a person has no connection to the Torah of Moshe until he believes that the “coincidences” in his life are all really miracles. Witnessing complete violations of nature allows us to reach the goal of recognizing the hidden miracles as well.

Purim is when we can reach the ultimate level of emunah, and running helps us develop this ability to dance in the dark. This Adar, search for your sneakers to energize your emunah and consider supporting the RabbisCanRun.org initiative. You might just be inspired to go for a jog, and soon you will be singing “Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’marathons”!!

By Meir Kaniel, LSW