The festival of Purim, with all of its frivolity, can also be understood as a lesson about the masks we wear. We all have them, those masks. Sometimes we hide behind them out of fear, sometimes out of habit and sometimes because it's just easier than revealing the painful truth.
It is life we want, no more and no less than that, our own life feeding on our own vital sources, in the fields and under the skies of our homeland, a life based on our own physical and mental labors; we want vital energy and spiritual richness from this living source.
We laughed so hard - at Cantor Doug Cotler's cleverly funny songs, at Rabbi Julia Weisz's ridiculously hysterical costumes, at my inappropriate yet Purimly-acceptable riffs on Megillat Esther, the story of Purim. We laughed out loud, belly laughed. And in between, we reflected on lessons of transcendent importance. We adults, we did.
Purim is almost here! It’s loud, it’s raucous, it’s festive, it’s colorful, and the food is great. It’s no wonder the rabbis of the Talmud saw Purim as such a high point in the calendar that they declared, “When Adar [the Hebrew month housing the holiday of Purim] enters, joy increases (Babylonian Talmud Ta’anit 29a). On the 14th of Adar, Jews around the world celebrate Purim, which commemorates the salvation of the Jews of Shushan and the defeat of the evil schemer Haman (boo!).
It's February, and I take issue with T.S. Eliot. It is not April but February which is the cruelest month. Cold, dark, and brutish, with none of the celebratory feel of December and January, spring feels months away during February. Thankfully, February has our greatest secular holiday - the Super Bowl - and our most gleeful Jewish holiday, Purim.
A few years ago, I found myself in a bit of a Purim predicament specifically pertaining to the “to tell or not to tell” dilemma regarding Vashti, one of the oft forgotten players in our Purim tale.
This year, we celebrate the beginning of the month of Adar between “Shabbat Shekalim” and the Shabbat when we read the Torah portion “Truma” (donation). Shabbat Shekalim reminds us that each and every one of us has an equal share in the amazing challenge that is the State of Israel.