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Tetzaveh 5781 ~ Feb. 26

Thank God today is Purim! And while, we began its celebration last evening with the reading of the Megillah and a Purim Shpiel, the celebration continues all weekend long, with Shushan Purim (the Walled Cities day of celebrating Purim) and our Weiner Tom Fund  Kol Esperanza concert. Purim is a day when we are supposed to put on costumes, blot out the events, things and people which have transformed and impacted our world negatively, listen to the reading of the story in the Megillah of right over might, and join in a festive meal of celebration, known as a Seudat Purim! As I am preparing to eat another dozen  or so hamantaschen, I am trying to think about how we are all coping a year later, on the anniversary of when our world changed.

Studying the commentaries of the Book of Esther, both traditional and modern, I happened upon the following modern commentary: The Other Message of Megilat Esther ...retelling of Rabbi Hayyim Angel's shiur from YUTorah.  It captured all of my thoughts for this moment in a very profound way. I am thinking that it might express a similar hopefulness for  you for the not-too-distant future.

"On Purim, Jews dress up and wear masks that change faces etched in pain and suffering into joy and frivolity. On the surface, it seems that Purim involves an escape from reality, one moment in which we can mask the pain and difficulties we experience and don fanciful carnival masks and costumes. All is turn on its head on Purim; even gender roles are ignored, and men and women can dress up as the other. Yet in a deeper way, this Jewish carnival experience allows us to challenge the inevitability of things as they are inherited identities and fates. And in so doing, Purim provides us with the hope that the garments we put on that seem only to mask our present realities can reveal the deep-seated consciousness of our potential for change, our ability to bring happiness and fulfillment to our lives.

Purim's masks may seem to conceal, if just for a moment, the chaos and pain of our present lives and enable us to escape this reality, but they may really offer us the chance to don serious masks of conscious determination to bring the light of the Divine into our world. Yes, God may not be mentioned in the entire book of Esther, and some have seen this as an intimation of the existence of sheer chaos in the world, where anarchy is at play. Yet, we may ask what lies beneath a story that intimates the absence of God and meaning, and the holiday of Purim, which is about frivolity and play.

Underneath the garment of the story is perhaps a glimpse of the existence of a force in the universe that can help us move beyond who we are and what our lives presently are and enable us to become who we aspire to be. What may be necessary is for us to recognize that, unlike the Exodus story, in which God is recognized through redemptive miracles, the Purim story demands that we come to recognize the Presence of the Divine through the ability to hear the hidden voice of God. The redemptive paradigm of Esther is to see the camouflaged Divine in the darkness of our lives. Purim bespeaks the existence in the world of the light of the Divine, sparks of which are hidden beneath the surface of our lives, and ours is the task to sew those sparks into a full garment of splendor that will enhance the majesty of our souls. Perhaps that is the reason why Maimonides stated that 'all prophetic books and sacred writings will cease to be read in the messianic era except the book of Esther.'" 

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782