Purim, the most celebratory holiday in Judaism, begins at sundown this Saturday. It is considered the happiest day of the Jewish calendar. For the last 2,369 years Jewish people traditionally dress in costume and rejoice by feasting and drinking wine on Purim.
The story of Purim has a diabolical plot designed to annihilate the Jewish people. It even has a mystery queen and an ancient-day Ahmadinejad. However, the story of Purim had a happy ending and the evil scheme did not succeed. To read the full story of Purim online click here.
It is said that all great novels are rooted in the Bible. As you read the story of Purim, you may even be reminded of the plot of a favorite movie or television show. Thus, as in every Jewish holiday, themes are universal and extend to other religions or even beyond religion. Interestingly, the only biblical story that does not make any mention of G-d, is the book of Esther, which is the story of Purim.
In the days that preceded Purim the Jewish people faced their own destruction. Hamen, the ancient day version of Ahmadinejad, had obtained the King Achashverosh’s permission to kill all of the Jews of the empire. At that time of this horrible decree, the Jewish identity of the queen was known to only a few and all the Jews in the world lived in Achashverosh's kingdom (what is now known as modern day Iraq).
It is hard to imagine how the Jewish people must have felt living each day knowing the end was near. Yet for them there always seemed to be a reason to be happy. By the end of the story we know that Hamen did not stand a chance. The seed of his demise had been planted when the King choose Esther as his wife because of her unique beauty. Ironically, Haman was placed on the very gallows he built to hang the Jews.
Purim reminds us, that even when things look bleak and gray, we can choose to be happy rather than worry and live in fear and thereby understand the true meaning of accepting suffering with joy. There are many people who choose to stay in the happy zone by submerging themselves in acceptance and joy. This attitude is the core of what is meant when we wish each other a “Happy Purim.” Purim’s main theme is to celebrate true joy. We are asked to be over the top happy!
Unfortunately there are so many people in life who are faced with painful circumstances. “How can such people be expected to be happy?” There is a beautiful Chassidic story that provides us with the answer.
A Chassid once came to the great Chassidic master, the Maggid of Mezeritch, with a question, “How could the Torah possibly demand a person to be happy during hardship?” By way of an answer the Maggid directed his disciple to the house of his student, the pious R' Zushe of Anipoli.
Arriving at R' Zushe’s dilapidated shack the Chassid was met with a sight of abject poverty. R’ Zushe lived with crumbling furniture, the tattered clothes, and a meager amount of food. Yet R' Zushe the master of this poor household conducted his day with a smile and invited the Chassid to stay. Upon departure the Chassid thanked Reb Zushe, and stated, “I am puzzled by the question ‘How it is possible to be happy in the face of suffering.’ My teacher, the Maggid, sent me to you to find the answer to my question.” R' Zushe looked into his eyes and answered, “I don’t understand why the Maggid would send you to me?. How can I possibly explain to you how one accepts suffering with joy? “I have so much joy and light in my life! Perhaps if he had sent you to someone who has experienced suffering..."
Happy Purim! And a final reminder, we invite you to celebrate Purim with other community members this Sunday, where we will have great entertainment for the kids “the Amazing Circus Show”, Kosher BBQ and fun for the whole family. this Sunday afternoon for kids and adults alike.