Finding Joy on Purim
Roni encourages everyone to get little silly on Purim, while also making sure to show plenty of kindness toward yourself and others.
By Roni Leibovitch
When was the last time you made yourself laugh? Has someone once put you down in attempt to elevate their own self-worth, yet still, you were vindicated?
These are all reasons to be in an extra state of joy this upcoming month of Adar! Take it from me—I am joy!
Prior to diving into silliness, I’d like to share with my Jewish News family that in Hebrew, the meaning of my name is “my joy.” In a challenge to self, one day I decided to look for Roni in the Torah and discovered 944 entries. Various topics capture my attention from gardening to geometry and I can confidently say, I earned my spiritual PhD in joy after studying each verse. It is therefore an honor to share one lesson on joy.
Our sages teach us that this specific time of year we are in-charge of our own destiny — and guess what? We’ve got Queen Esther on our side. Specifically this time we are “extra” in-charge of ourselves.
And further, what do our sages instruct, in this “extra” state of control, what should we do?
When it comes to Purim on the 14th of Adar, which this year falls on March 21, we should have an extra glass of wine, crack an extra joke, be extra indulgent in physical pleasures all while not forgetting to start your day with an act of gratitude and kindness, like feeding the hungry or clothing the homeless.
In other words, be kind and drink! Easy, right?
Wait a minute! Purim is starting to sound a little like St. Patrick’s Day kind of joy. We both have famous redheads (King David, Price Harry, or if you prefer, Julianne Moore)! One thing is for sure, we all enjoy a good corned beef or veggie hash!
The Mishnah advises us to be so drunk we cannot discern between Boca Burgers and Piedmontese! Haman and Mordechai! Red and blue! Michigan or Michigan State! Imagine the horror if you accidentally hugged a Spartan! But now you get the point — be silly!
But before you get silly, pause for a moment and reflect on why Purim is so closely related to Yom [Ki]Purim? The “Ki” prefix simply translates to “like” — a day like Yom Kippur. Yet, a day we abstain from all physical pleasures and fast appears to be the exact opposite, and nothing alike!
If you follow the basic plot, 200 or so days from today on Yom Kippur you might face the heat and be “judged” not on how saintly you were on Purim, but how drunk! Do me just one favor, and please defer to your Rabbi, therapist or trusted life partner before making decisions in your heightened state of joy!
So how do we cultivate joy on Purim? If you have been listening to Elvis, “The King,” try putting on a little Aretha in your playlist and get in touch with your inner “Queen of Soul!”
Joy is also about displacing self beyond your comfort zone, so try to challenge yourself to think in the polar opposite.
We have brothers and sisters who live “flipped” all year round, people who may feel completely opposite the remainder of the year due to their self-identity, their gender or sexuality. It’s a great day to heighten our sensitivity to this and ensure everyone feels joy beyond Purim.
It’s clear to me we are all deserving of joy, an especially Jewish trait! Being inclusive of all who seek joy is truly and meaningfully not merely reading the megillah, but living it!
Triumph over institutional restraint is joy, conquer over biases and complacency is joy. That’s what Queen Esther was able to do, and we should all channel our inner queen to yield inner-joy.
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