On your way to (Pesach) Passover,don’t pass over Purim. Ah Purim, how we all appreciate you eventhough you tantalize us, mystify usand laugh with us as we struggle to understandyou. Like Yom Kippur, you help us toreach a destination called forgiveness but what a difference in the trip. You allow us to atone for our sins withmerriment and with eating and with drinking– a lot of drinking. On Yom Kippur we abstain. On Yom Kippur weremove our shoes, while you get us to put on an extra pair of clown shoes. OnYom Kippur we refrain from anointing ourselves while you allow us to us smearour faces and bodies with extra creams and cosmetics. On Yom Kippur we stayawake and focused while you – Purim – lead us to take an extra drink and or alittle extra sleep. How does this happen?
Maybe we can find an answer using your mitzvah of drinking wine –everythingbecomes clearer with a little wine and even clearer with more wine . . . Let’s see, where was I ? Oh yes, Drinking can easily bring a person tofrivolity and nonsense, yet you, Purim, are (mehapech) the opposite, you make a switch and the wine we drink takesus up the spiritual ladder towards purity and strivings towards kiddusha.
You’re reallyclever. You fool our (yetzer hora) negative inclinationby giving it just what it wants lots ofwine and maybe even some more and then all of a sudden, it can’t connive ordeceive any more because (nichnas yayin yotzei sod) once wine goes in, on thisunique holy day, then the inner yearnings of our pure Jewish soul come out.
You put masks onus to strip our masks away. All of a sudden we may realize that our regular,ordinary, middle of the road conduct is really the result of our inner battlebetween these two forces. Now we get a chance to glimpse at our dark side andthrough the special loftiness of this day can actually laugh at it, with that laughter freeing us from its negative influence hopefullynot just for this day, but forever.
When we see beyondthe mask, we learn how not to judge. Throughout the year we may be guilty oftoo quickly evaluating and judging others on a very shallow level. On Purimwhen a (adel) sweet person puts on a scary mask, we are not frightened becausewe know that behind the mask is a precious soul. So, too, in the real world, every Jew hasgood points which we should focus on and therefore not be so quick to judgeanyone superficially.
Ah Purim, you don’t have ussimply ask (mechila) forgiveness, of our friends, you tell us to say it withpresents. How so? We give two gifts toat least one friend and minimally one gift to each of two poor people. One ofthe great Rabbis makes an observation asking why are we obligated to give atleast double to a friend and only minimally one gift to each of the poor? He answers that the poor gratefully accept whateverwe offer, but we might have offended our friends over the course of the yearand they may continue to harbor resentment. On Purim we are commanded to make aspecial effort to repair these breaches in all relationships especially thosewhich have weakened. Therefore we should “redouble” our efforts with sincere gifts andsend a clear message to both close friends and estranged acquaintances that we are sincerely interested in healing thepast and rebuilding the future together. Also we give them gifts that don’tneed preparation – ie. ready to eat – to hint to them that they do not have tomake any – preparations – changes in themselves – in order for us to acceptthem as they are.
On Purim, the poor can make usrich. One reason we are only minimallyrequired to give one gift to each of at least two needy people is because aslong as we don’t see the poor as our friends we ourselves are spiritually poor,however, if we see every Jew, including the needy, as our friends, then we willgenerously lavish them with gifts thereby taking them out of their physical povertyand ourselves our of our spiritual poverty.
leave us with one more gift,leave us with your special smile which inspires our hearts as we prepare forthe next stage of our journey that being the wonderful Pesach transformation.
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