Purim: Happiness and Change
Although Moses is not mentioned in this week’s portion, we always think of him here. Why? Because during Purim, we think about happiness. Happiness is barely mentioned in the Torah, but it is on one memorable occasion, and that’s in reference to Moses. We all know that Moses was a reluctant leader. Although he was personally called upon by G-d to lead the Israelites, he resisted at first. His concern was that his brother, the high priest, was a more natural leader. He was older and already an authoritative figure. Moses worried that becoming a leader would displease his more qualified brother.
In response, G-d reassures Moses, saying “he will see you and be happy from the bottom of his heart.” Isn’t this a beautiful idea? It may be an alien sentiment in many ways, as human beings find it difficult to celebrate one another’s successes. Jealousy and resentment often seem to intervene. However Aaron was far from jealous. He was sincerely happy! He didn’t have an agenda; he just loved. This is an attitude we should all try to emulate. Aaron knew that G-d had chosen Moses and he trusted the choices of the Creator. Can we do the same when we see others chosen over us?
It’s important that we do. Every time we are angry or jealous, we lose a little piece of our souls. Luckily, Purim is a time for us to reclaim these parts. How do we do this? Through the rituals of Purim. One of these rituals is to drink alcohol. You may wonder why we are encouraged to drink during this celebration. The reason is that we want to alter our consciousness to the right level so we are able to transcend the ego and experience the full joy and happiness of the holiday. What’s more meaningful than the alcohol itself is the happiness it imbues us with.
Purim is the happiest holiday because it celebrates the saving of the Jewish people from Haman. Haman was the advisor of the Persian king who wanted to prevent the rebuilding of the temple and eliminate every Jew. Many of the Israelites were in exile in Persia. In fact, they generally liked it there. Some of them even enjoyed the food, the drink, and the company so much that they became disconnected from their mission: to return to Israel and rebuild the temple. This is the danger of becoming too comfortable: you can lose sight of your true purpose!
For this reason, we fast from Thursday morning to Thursday night. Fasting all day changes how we absorb the text of the Meghilla. It serves as a reminder that we must overcome the desire in our body, because otherwise our bodily desires may lead us away from our spirituality. Partying in Persia, we may forget our temple. This should lead us to reflect on the ways that comfort may have distracted us from our true path. Are you one of those who have lost their way? Don’t worry! If there’s one time of the year when miraculous changes can occur, it’s during Purim.
Remember, there is more than one way to be in exile. Not only were the Israelites separated from the Holy Land, they were also separated from G-d’s light. Whenever the light of the Creator and the vessel for this divine energy are out of alignment, this is a kind of exile in itself. It’s also dangerous to be in this condition, as the weakness can be exploited — just as Haman planned to do. That’s why Purim is seen as an opportunity to reconnect with the Creator. You can make a conscious effort to do this during your meditation. Why not state aloud that you wish to open yourself fully to G-d at that moment? This is a chance for you to return from exile.
Purim is a time when everything can change in an instant. Esther can become the queen and save the Israelites from destruction. Accordingly, we make changes to our usual routine during this time. For example, our charitable habits change. For a short while, we no longer look for the good and pure to donate to. Instead, we offer charity to all. Implied is that our charity could actually change an evil person into a righteous one. We also change our schedule. Unless you work in emergency services, you should take Friday as a day of rest. Don’t miss the incredible opportunity that Purim represents! The happiness you experience during this holiday will sustain you throughout the year to come.
Undoubtedly, it’s been an extraordinary and difficult year since last Purim. That means a holiday that centers joy is sorely needed. The rituals we partake in remind us that the only true happiness comes from connection to the creator. We are also reminded that, from one moment to another, miraculous change is possible. In other words, better times are coming. From Vital Transformation, we wish you a very happy Purim.