Purim: Bottoms up! Forget that you have any control over your life

I will never forget the lesson I was given last year on Purim. For anyone who knows even a smidgen of what is written in the Magillat Ester (the Book of Esther) few things become apparent. One, someone tried to exterminate us (again). Two, the attempted extermination came, because one of our kings, Shaul, disobeyed the instructions Hashem gave him. Three, nowhere through the Megillat Ester do we see any actual miracle (I mean, we had already experienced the splitting of the Red Sea, the Plagues, the giving of the Torah etc.) and four, nothing in this Book makes absolute sense until we reach the end. Everything that happens there is beyond anyone’s control. Everyone involved in the story have a part to play, even Haman, really, essentially fashioned his own whip. I remember pondering upon the fourth point especially. Nothing in our lives really makes sense until we stand at the exit door. We do have hundreds of plans, they fail. Some don’t but in terms of the statistics, how many of our plans actually do work? We seem to be pushed through life by natural forces. I can’t remember how I felt when my mum pushed me out, but apparently I didn’t look very pleased. This is bizarrely how the life feels. We are just being pushed through it. It’s not pleasant, especially if things happen against our will, or just, simply speaking, we experience traumatic things. Megillat Ester shows us that even Hashem is hidden (His name is not mentioned in the Book even once). The name “Ester” contains the same root as the word Hester – that means “hidden”. He uses the forces of nature that He created to shape our destiny. And we may look unhappy, as I did, facing challenges that we are forced to deal with. We may cry. As Absalom told Alice, when she felt overwhelmed by circumstances of having to slay a dragon – “nothing has been even accomplished by tears”. I do agree, though sometimes it feels easier just to cry our eyes out. I remember being frustrated a year ago, but being reminded that on Purim, it’s a commandment to be happy. It doesn’t matter how screwed up you think your life is and what kind of challenges you are facing – really, it does not matter so long as… it’s a mitzvah to be happy. Last year I heard the rabbi saying: “Put your masks on and remember to be happy. The mask is what you present to the world, but underneath, as you drink, forget about the sorrows for that time and, if you can’t, drink more and force yourself to laugh. Remember that you don’t have control over anything that is happening to you. So be happy, because this is the only thing that you can control.” I really think that these words will stay with me for life. It’s a commandment to drink enough so we do not recognise the difference between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordechai. In other words until we can’t differentiate between the bad and the good that is happening to us, because after all how do we know that there is no blessing in the bad that happens to us? How much do we actually know about where our life developments are directing us to? We accept things as they come making the most of them, not always understanding why they happen. We still fight for the best, always pushing forward and always hoping. This year I didn’t think much of preparing for Purim. Being in the process of not having a home really makes me not think about investing into costumes. But Purim is really much more than that. It’s providing for those that may not be able to provide for themselves and yes, being happy. Staying happy. Always. Tzom kal and purim sameach!!!


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