Published Date: February 28, 2020
This week’s music: Yehudah Katz Vhamagal Live
Countdown to Purim! 12 days to go.
“When Adar arrives Simchah is increased.” (Ari zt”l)
There is so much joy in the air! How can I connect to it?
“When Adar arrives Simchah is increased.”
Hashem is sending an abundance of “shefa,” influence of Simchah to the world, how can I prepare myself to receive it? One thing is for sure, this month always reminds me that I need to make it a priority to be happy all year. As Rebbe Nachman teaches, “mitzvah gedolah l’hyot bsiomchah tamid,” it is an obligation for one to always be in a state of happiness (Likutei Maharan).
Perhaps the first place I need look is to Purim itself. What is the goal on Purim? To simply be happy? To celebrate the awesome miracle? To get drunk? Perhaps to be someone that until now I have not recognized in myself?
One of the first directions is clearly for me to learn to nullify myself in reverence to God. Hashem, if I don’t know it all year, then certainly on Purim I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are always with us. Look at the amazing miracle You did for a population of Jews who for years were reveling in the palace with clearly unholy behavior in participation with the local Persians and their customs. Yet thanks to the leadership of Mordechai and Esther and the subsequent following of their lead by numerous Jews, the entire nation was saved from being wiped out by the hands of Haman. May his name be wiped out.
So it is clear to me on Purim that Hashem is always there for us. “Banim atem La׳Hashem Elokeichem, “you (written in the plural from) are children of Hashem your God.” (D’varim 14.1) We take solace in knowing that we are all children of Hashem and our Father never leaves us. In line with this thought, in this week’s portion of “Terumah,” Hashem is telling Moshe Rabenu to tell us, B’nai Yisrael, to build his dwelling Place in this Land. “Vasu li mikdash, v’shachanti betocham,” and they (Yisarel) will build me a Temple and I will dwell in them (Shmot 25.8).
It does not read as it should naturally be written, v’shachanti b’tocho, and I will dwell in it, but rather, I will dwell in them. Hashem says to Moshe, if they build me a Holy Place I will dwell in each and every one of them. This is a beautiful gateway to feeling happy. Do I feel alone? I am never alone! Knowing what we leaned above, I look for a way to internalize this beautiful idea and make it grow. It is time for me to have a talk with God. Now that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You are always with me, my prayer to You is to help me find the avenues for me to get closer to You.
One of the ways, is for me to humble myself. One way to be “m’vatel,” nullify myself on Purim is by dressing in costume. I don’t need to see my shortcomings today, nor should anyone else see me in that vain. I simply need to accept that in front of Hashem, I am nothing. The same is true with my relationships to others. Humility is in order.
Last Shabbat we read in Parshat Shekalim, that every Jew that wanted to be counted as a part of the nation had to bring a half shekel donation to the Holy Temple in order to be counted in. No matter what your financial status was, everyone gave the exact same amount.”…he’ashir lo yarbeh,” the rich should not bring more than any one else, “v’hadal lo yamit,” and the poor should not contribute less. Each of us needs to be clear that we can only bring “half” of a whole shekel. The Netivot Shalom (Slonimer Rebbe) brings a teaching from The Holy Alshich in the name of Reb Shlomo Alkebetz, that we each have to have the consciousness that alone, I am nothing. I can only be counted as a member of the nation of Israel and as a part of the ‘Beit Hamikdah,” Holy Temple, as a half. The only way we can be considered whole is if we connect with another who is also only a half himself/herself. So on Purim I Take out my “self” from the equation and place my soul in the story. I am simply a part of the “klal’” the whole of Israel.
How can I be happy on Purim? Simply by making others happy. We give “mishloach manot ish l’re’ehu,” gifts to each other as friends and “matanot l’evyonim,” gifts to the poor as an integral part of our day. We let everyone know how special they are to us, with no exception. On Purim I realize that not only must I look for the good in everyone, but that there is no other way. I can only find good in you today.
What better way to make that happiness grow than to share it with others? So our custom is to make a beautiful gathering, a “seudah,” a festive meal, from Purim afternoon into the night, where everyone can eat, drink, sing and rejoice in freedom together. Free from negative thoughts about myself and all of my brothers and sisters. Everyone is beautiful in my eyes and thoughts. This seudah offers us an opportunity to strive to share our simcha with so many as we did as a people at the miraculous splitting of the sea. When we do this together, with total “achdut,” then we will be complete. Hashem is waiting for us to do this and is very ready to forgive all of our souls (Shmot 30.15), and bring us to the total redemption in our times.
Never too early to bless everyone with a GOOD PURIM!!!!!