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Some Thoughts on Purim

We are exactly one month away from Purim - time to get ready!

At the most basic level, Purim is a raucous celebration of the story of Esther. In the biblical book of Esther, the Jews of ancient Persia faced certain annihilation, but they not only survived, but turned the tables on their oppressors. So we cheer for Esther and her uncle Mordechai, we boo when we hear the name of wicked Haman and we wear ridiculous outfits.

Indeed, on the lived level, Purim is a raucous holiday filled with groggers, skits, costumes, hamentashen, alcohol and more. It’s a day when everything is reversed and we fully acknowledge and even celebrate the sheer absurdity of existence. At BHA, we invite everyone to participate in the mitzvah of sending gifts to the poor and to our friends and then join us at one of our three celebrations:

Finally, on the philosophical level, Purim raises complicated questions about fate, power, gender and more. The book does not directly refer to the Holy One, but the rabbinic tradition understands the Divine presence to be hidden in all the human machinations that make up the book. Maybe that’s the cause of the book’s enduring popularity - for Esther, like for us, God is not found in dramatic, earth shaking announcements, but the mundane (and occasionally dramatic) activities of lived life. Or perhaps the book’s message of hope, that an oppressed and scattered people will prevail, no matter how desperate their circumstances, has made the Book of Esther so beloved in the Jewish community.

Purim comes at the end (we hope!) of winter, pointing the way to spring and Passover and beyond that, Shavuot. No matter how you celebrate this holiday, I hope your joy increases as we get closer to Purim!

Sat, January 25 2020 28 Tevet 5780