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Living Purim Today

Thursday, 27 February, 2020 - 11:41 am

Jewish holidays tend to commemorate historic Jewish events. But it’s not just about looking at an ancient narrative, discussing people and events of yesteryear. We need to relate the holiday to our present lives.  When we see it as a current event, a relevant energy for today, we begin to find its soul, its ability to elevate our lives.

How would that work with the Purim holiday?

On Purim (which we begin celebrating the evening of March 9), we celebrate the Jews’ miraculous rescue from annihilation more than 2,000 years ago in ancient Persia. Haman, wicked advisor to King Ahasuerus, despised the idea of Jewish identity, so he convinced the King to kill anyone who maintained it.

The Jews didn’t back down. They prayed, they fasted and I’m sure they stressed. But their commitment was strong, and they were ultimately saved.

Beautiful narrative.

Now how is that my story, when I’ve lived my entire life in the land of the free, practicing my Judaism without interference?

I’ve got to drill down and identify an underlying, personal connection with the Purim challenges, even if they manifest themselves very differently in my life.

In the Purim events, the Jews had a big reason to repudiate their relationship with the Divine; it literally would have saved their lives. Yet they decided to honor their relationship with G-d, come what may. Even today, our commitments to G-d are often threatened, even if it’s not with the danger of physical harm (G-d forbid). Let’s take a simple example: if you are committed to “respectful discourse,” does your internal pledge collapse in the face of a co-worker’s offensive comment?

Taking it to a more ritual place, let’s say you are committed to lighting Shabbat Candles on Friday before sundown.  What happens when life seems to get in the way, especially if it’s “just this once?”

When a relationship matters, we find a way to honor and protect it, even in the face of challenge.

On Purim we rejoice. We take an opportunity to bask in the beauty of our relationship with the Divine and we uncover our own deep commitment to staying the course, even in the face of challenge.


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