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03/15/2022 11:59:19 AM


Why is Purim so important to the Rabbis of old?

Soon it will be the holiday of Purim. We celebrated it early at CBSW due to spring break, but the actual date is Wednesday evening through Thursday. Purim is a strange holiday. It is considered “minor” in that it is not a pilgrimage festival like Passover. The book on which it is based, the Scroll of Esther, was almost omitted from the Jewish Bible. The story itself is problematic. God is never mentioned. The happy outcome is based on an absurd amount of luck. And there is no confidence that another Haman will not arise.
And yet, the Talmud declares that the holiday of Purim will never cease, even after the end of time when all other holidays will be abrogated. Why is Purim so important to the Rabbis of old?
A clue is found in the final part of the Scroll of Esther, in which Jews sent portions of aid to the poor. Why is this important? The reason the aid was sent was not out of mere joy. It was because those who had realized that all they had could be taken tomorrow. Abundance is never certain. Good fortune is itself absurd. Therefore, we share our blessings with others, because we know, but for the grace of God, go we.

Maimonides – the great codifier of Jewish law from 800 years ago – instructs us to be wary of giving to the poor throughout the year because there may be charlatans asking for handouts. On Purim, however, we give with no suspicion. All who ask, receive. Why? Because one day a year we realize how absurd life is. How ephemeral. And how we – with gratitude and humility – remember that we are blessed beyond our ability to comprehend.
Happy and blessed Purim!

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783