Friday, 14 March 2014
A Purim Dream
Dreams mostly happen on the night that they happen. They don't usually happen before the night. But this Purim dream is already happening though it's just over a day until Purim itself.
Jews around the world will be celebrating. There's a victory that occurred some two and a half thousand years ago - and it's still being celebrated! An evil man by the name of Haman plotted to destroy the entire Jewish people, but a Jewish man named Mordechai together with his relative Esther entered to save the day! There were others involved - and even G-d Himself (though not mentioned in the Megillah) had His share in saving the Jewish people from mass genocide!
It seems so foreign to think about, and yet we know of similar periods in Jewish history about the enemies of the Jewish people doing whatever they wish in their hope of their greatest desires... But we're still here and going strong! It was at Purim that the Jewish people truly accepted upon themselves the Oral Torah - a set of rules not formally written down - and with all this happening and a complete revival of Judaism in every sense of the word, the Jewish people emerged victorious! With that - the celebrations were to begin - at least as much as Mordechai instituted them then. The Jewish people were commanded to remember the day of Purim through an abundance of love towards each other - charity to the poor, gift packages of at least two different items for a friend and a special meal for the day - not to mention the reading of the Megillah and hearing the story of the miracles that occurred! Who could ask for a happier day?!
Get into it yourself - or think of previous years, and you'll know just what it's all about! Everyone is filled with tremendous happiness - tremendous love for the other too! Everyone seems so much more at ease - with real smiles on their faces! There's a "Shalom" waiting for you from practically everybody - and strangely enough - you'll find yourself saying it to others too! It seems that people feel easier - in fact with no embarrassment at all - about asking for money to help them (Matanot LaEvyonim - charity for the poor - "gifts for the poor.") More than this - people feel easier about giving them. There's no shame because everyone suddenly realises what it's all about. It's about happiness, kindness and giving. You'll see Jews of all kinds coming through - passing by your home too! Some will be wearing hats of every kind! Others will have Peyot purchased from a toy shop! Kids will be wearing beards! Nobody criticizes anybody - no matter what they wear! There's just so much joy - so much giving!
You'll probably even be invited out for a special Seudah - a Mitzvah meal! There will be meat and wine and other wonderful delicacies! You'll have friends (you never even knew about!) knocking on your door with a special gift package with an assortment of sweets, chocolates and even real food! In fact, you may be thinking - you'll be doing just the same.
It's an amazing day. It celebrates victory to the Jewish people. There's some Torah during the day as we read the Megillah. There's the festivities of the physical body too! There's even a combination where with a "little" wine, both body and soul feel good about things - together. True homeostasis! The Simcha (happiness) experienced by all is beyond what anybody can ever think of...
And yet, the day after Purim, it all seems to fall apart - again! The beautiful "Shalom" greeting has faded. People feel critical of the one with Peyos - or the one wearing a different hat (let alone if the other wears the brim up or down!) Their desire to give money to a poor person is replaced with "Why doesn't he just get a job," or the like. The poor feel once again ashamed to approach another for any assistance - ever again. As for gifts, those in real need can only but hope that someone will care to assist them - one day soon. As for a festive meal - or any meal at all, the poor man may well be confronted with a "You can live on bread and eggs," remark. And while a Shabbat invitation may come about - it's rare to find a caring person for the other six days of the week! Why does this happen? What happens to us just hours after a day experiencing what true joy is all about?
Purim is here - not for itself. Not just for the day itself. It is here to teach us what it really does mean to be Jewish. Purim is a day to be celebrated all year long. When we realise this - when we are truly able to see the foolishness of holding ourselves back from each other - we will have the opportunity to awaken that beautiful force that existed so many years ago - a force that will bring the truest joy to us all. Victory again! Love again! One can wonder if it will come from heaven itself - like so many feel and learn about. But maybe not. Maybe it's up to us. Maybe it's for us to bring in the joy. To grab hold of the Simcha as it exists from above, and pull it down hard into this world, so that when we see another Jew - any day of the year, we see him as if it were Purim. He is a Purim Jew. So am I. I see his need to be greeted. I see my need to greet. I see his need to have blessing. I need it too myself. I see his need for good food and physical satisfaction. I hope for it myself too. I see his need for a gift - because I so often need this comfort.
Purim will be here just around the corner. Internalise its message, or there will have to be another year before it comes around again. Make a difference to yourself this Purim - so that you can be a Purim Jew - all year around.
The Rambam (click image at top of post for larger picture) teaches that giving money to the poor is the greatest of all the Mitzvot on Purim - because it gives them the opportunity to express their own happiness by purchasing the things they need most for themselves. There's no need to embarrass them with what we feel they should have (because they are poor.) Those who are orphans, widows and converts - feel the pain of not having even more than others. If you are one of them - you know what this means. If you are not, it can take much "alone time" to realise just how great their pain is.
For those taking in the message of Purim - all year around - may you be blessed for all your kindness whenever you do it. You are blessed already! For those wishing to assist some orphans in great need - in starting their very own homes with their own families, we encourage you to visit our own Bayit Chadash - Wedding Project, and make a donation any time - but in particular this Purim.
If you would like to know more about our projects and take part in any way you can, see our main page www.lovingkindness.co or contact us via email directly email@example.com