31 March 2016

Two Lessons Learned from Purim

21 Adar Bet 5776

The Garden of Eden, Thomas Cole, 1828 (Wikipedia)

If we celebrate Purim with intent - paying attention to the story, understanding it, and learning from it - we should be strengthened in the lessons it teaches, and learn new ones every year. Purim brings out an amazing aspect of Ge'ulah Shlemah, that of the hidden miracles.

Others have explained, far better than I, the details of Purim; let us skip over that now to how we should allow ourselves to think afterwards. There are a great many messages to be deciphered and assimilated from this mysterious not-quite-holiday (in Jewish terms, one would have to observe most of the prohibitions of Shabbat, as we do on Pesah, for it to be a full holiday), and I don't believe I could capture them all in this space. So, I'll take two in particular, that resonated for me.

A particular learning I took away this year, to be lived the rest of the year, is the explicit need to accept our nationhood; I am sharing this with Israelis as well as those who live in the lands of exile because we all need the encouragement! We have everything it takes to define a nation, and each individual Jew has the privilege of accepting that (or not, in which case s/he is in danger of forfeiting the future of his/her branch of the Jewish people), except one thing: Our leaders don't believe in it, and they are the ones digging the hole in the boat we are all on.

The main mistake our people made was not to return to Eretz Yisrael afterwards. This is why R' Shimon ben Lakish told the Babylonian Jew who wanted to help him out of the Jordan River that he hated him: If that man's ancestors had been among those who came up to the Land, things would have gone a whole lot better than they had, and we would have merited the presence of the Shekhinah in the Second Temple. (see Yoma 9b)

The same is true today! We, and only we (with G-d's help) are responsible for how things go in Eretz Yisrael: not the UN, America, or any other nation or group of nations. A miracle greater than the Splitting of the Reed Sea would be if all the Jews in the world would see how the effort of every Jew, directed to this precious place, would make it the eretz hemdah, tovah urehavah (beautiful, good and spacious land) that our G-d gave us!

The other main point I picked up this year is that the biggest, best-known events of Purim took place after the 42,000 Jews had already returned to E"Y in the book of Ezra (which explains why it turns out that the Shushan government had calculated wrong about the 70 years being already over when they had their extended partying season, culminating in the feast where Ahashuerosh wore the Bigdei Kahuna (Cohen Gadol's clothing) and served food from the serving pieces of the Holy Temple - may this never happen again - where Megillath Esther begins).  Apparently the new olim were having a rough time in the first years of their return home (doesn't this sound so familiar?), battling the nations that had been living there while they were gone while studying Torah; so the rest decided to stay in the "safety" of Persia. Thus, after the 70 years of the Babylonian exile were over, the narrative returns to those who stayed in galuth and tells their story.

And now I can go on to prepare for Pesach, the time of the open, obvious miracles. May our righteous Mashiach be crowned and evident to all, bringing complete redemption, speedily in our days. Amen!

More lessons learned...

The Endless Ages of Purim | Breaking Free from Trauma | Main Message of Purim: Us or Them! | When It Isn't a Terrorist Who Stabs Our Soldiers in the Back | Support Our Soldier | The Israeli Left is a Potemkin Village | Israel Already Pays for US Aid! | The Continuing Conquest and Colonisation of Israel BY THE EU -Video | Shocking Revelations about AP's Collaboration with the Nazi Regime | Illegal Building Reuters Won't Report | Video Response to Brussels Attack from Jerusalem | OP ED: Why Can't Israel Be More Like Morocco? |

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