Maccabi World Union Purim Message 2019 - Fun, Joy and the Celebration of Life

Sunday, March 10, 2019 | ‏ג' אדר ב תשע"ט
Kfar Maccabiah
Purim|Fun, Joy and the Celebration of Life
Dear Friends,
In terms of sheer fun, Purim easily tops all Jewish celebrations. We party in fancy dress, make merry and even drink alcoholic beverages (Ad Lo Yada) with a certain indulgence alien to other Jewish celebrations. From babies to grandparents, we parade in funny costumes, and drown the name of our evil enemy Haman in riots of noise (in synagogue, for once encouraged to be noisy). To be sure, we are always required to enjoy everything that goes with living as Jews: our family life, synagogue gatherings, traditional meals, and so. Joy is a key attribute of other Jewish festivities: Pessach, Shavuot & Succot (especially Succot), when we're expected to be joyful in the happy embrace of the total experience of our life: family, community, and nation.
So, why is Purim different? Why are the three pilgrim festivals of Judaism about joy, while Purim has almost an order to have fun?
Pessach, Shavuot & Succot are festivities enshrined in the authority of the Torah. The events of Purim occurred much later in our history, at a time when our nation had lost its sovereign independence, conquered by the Babylonians who expelled us from our Land and destroyed our national life, subject to the Persian Empire. Purim occurred during a time when we were totally at the mercy of others; the 3 pilgrimage Festivals were established even before the Children of Israel began our life as a free nation in the Promised Land, Eretz Yisrael. Pessach, Shavuot and Succot were instituted when our People became free, prepared to conquer the Land and began our life as a Nation. By contrast, Purim marks a very different type of event, when clever Mordechai and Esther thwarted the intention of evil Hamman and his hateful followers to murder the whole Jewish people in all 127 provinces of the Persian Empire. After the defeat of Haman and his followers, the Jews were still subjects of the Persian Empire, so Purim is not about regaining Jewish national independence. Purim only expresses the Jewish people's tremendous relief for their physical salvation – for not being killed in a massive genocide… what we celebrate today in a fun party, trying to forget such a threat.
Joy, on the other hand, is a total experience of deep and full satisfaction at many simple and complex levels of meaning. The Torah demands joy from a free, independent and strong people – a Nation that holds its future in its own hands, even when our existence is challenged, threatened and endangered. Fun, even Purim Fun, is a temporary condition; it passes. We celebrate the demise of a horrible threat, but the big picture didn't change – the Jews were still dependent on the will of the Persians. We are licensed to celebrate with alcohol because the thought of a total genocide of our own people is so unbearable that we need those images to blur – celebrating that we are alive, after all. Pessach, Shavuot & Succot are pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Festivals about the joy of our life as a free, independent, and strong people, filled with national purpose, hope and future.
Let's celebrate Purim with lots of fun – and may we celebrate, day after day, the joyful experience of the recovering of our national life and self in our new-old State of Israel.
May God will that each and every one of us hears the story of Esther, Mordechai[1] and their redemptive history, and adopt it as our own.
With our best wishes,
Chag Purim Sameach!
Rabbi Carlos A. Tapiero
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union
[1] The heroes of the salvation of the Jewish People.
Maccabi World Union Purim Message 2019 - Fun, Joy and the Celebration of Life
Maccabi World Union.jpg
A special Purim message from Rabbi Carlos Tapiero from Maccabi World Union.