The Joys of Purim


The month of Adar started last weekend, and our rabbis say: when Adar begins, happiness is increased (that happened this year in the Seattle area for those who play in the snow).


One reason for this, originally, is that in the middle of this month, we celebrate Purim, a joyful holiday! SKED, Purim will be this Thursday night/Friday, Feb. 25-26. So, in anticipation and preparation for it, we work on increasing joy and happiness.


In this time, though, there are two important events that don’t seem to fit...


1. On the 7th of Adar (this Thursday night/Friday) is Moses’ (Moshe Rabenu’s) meldado

2. The Shabbat before Purim we take out a separate Sefer Torah, with special Haftara, to fulfill the Biblical commandment to remember the treachery of Amalek, and to eradicate its memory for all time. It is called Shabbat Zachor- the Shabbat of Remembering.


How do these fit in to increasing joy?


1. Moshe lived 120 years (2368-2488), and in our tradition, he died on his birthday. This is considered a blessing and symbolic of living a complete life. We note Moshe’s full life, including the last 40 years of his life leading the Jewish people, through the exodus from slavery, entering the covenant with G-d and achieving readiness to enter the land.


While it’s true that there were challenges and, for Moshe he was disappointed in not crossing the Jordan River, he shone and accomplished heroic deed, with a unique relationship with G-d. For his meldado, we focus on his accomplishments here, and the special regard and reward he earned and enjoys.


2. As for Amalek and Shabbat Zachor, there is the connection we understand between Amalek and Haman, focusing on the redemptive nature of Purim, that historically in the war against Amalek, the Jews, through Esther and Mordechai, G-d saw to it that they prevailed in the battle with Haman. He’s traditionally held to be descended (genetically or symbolically) from Amalek. For many Sephardim, this aspect is highlighted by chanting the poem of Yehuda Halevi, “Mi Kamocha,” which presents this event in a historical/religious context (see this previous blog post, which joyfully recognizes the special relationship between G-d and the Jewish people).


So, we see how these two events indeed help us prepare for the happiness and joy we bring to our celebration of Purim.


Purim Alegre! Be well, be safe!

Al