By Julie Hauser
“The good thing about when I am eighty-three is…I won’t be an old lady!” This was my nine-year-old son’s reply when I reminded him to care for his teeth, so his smile will be preserved for the multitudes who consult him when he becomes a wise, elderly sage!
Maybe you had to be there, or know his sense of humor, but really, there is so much truth and wisdom to be found in reality! So, what if we applied that realistic view to the opportunities of Purim? While Purim is a high point in the Jewish calendar, with hidden potency and potential, many of us feel stressed on the holiday. Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein zt”l said, “Purim is the biggest day, but it is the toughest day, because the Satan tries to break it up. But everyone has access to Hashem on Purim, anyone who ‘puts out his/her hand’ Chazal says, Hashem will extend His hand to him/her.”
The costumes and mishloach manot fly; megillah and learning schedules are erratic; proper meals seem non-existent. Noise, traffic, and the doorbell can all overwhelm.
I once heard Rebbetzin Esther Bakst suggest that on Purim, a woman should decide, “for today, the house is hefker (ownerless).” Let’s embrace some Purim realities with positivity (using my son’s outline), so we can move forward and connect to the day.
• A good thing about Purim is…the house gets messy but I will not worry about it.
• A good thing about Purim is… I don’t expect anyone to eat balanced meals (Except me. I. Will. Eat. Lunch.)
• A good thing about Purim is… inevitably, a mishloach manot intended for a first grader (fruit roll-up, wafer, and a juice box?) may get mistakenly given to a teacher. And he/she will recycle it!
And maybe it’s the quiet that overwhelms– if you live alone, or if you are far from family and friends on this day. (And, yes, it is possible to feel alone amidst noise, as well, if you are waiting for a yeshua, or if you are in pain.)
How can we squeeze more meaning out of this potent day, while still living in reality? Here I offer some practical tips to help our Purim along (besides for the four mitzvot of the day).
• Purim is an opportunity for prayer and connection compared with Yom Kippur. Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi teaches that the Maharal says, in the month of Adar, nothing is blocked; whatever you daven has tremendous power.
• Make two lists before Purim: a gratitude list to Hashem, and a list of Purim “requests.” Think BIG. Include what you think impossible. Include something you wish to change about yourself. Have it ready so you can beg Hashem on Purim! Purim and Taanit Esther are known to be an auspicious time to say perek (chapter) 22 of Tehillim.
• I have learned that even though we don’t see Hashem’s name in the whole Megillat Esther, He is hidden in it. Where? In the word HaMelech (the King). Every time the megillah mentions ‘HaMelech,’ in the revealed sense it refers to King Achashveirosh, and in the hidden sense it is talking about God, Melech HaOlam. (Rabbi Wallerstein said, “To explain that, it would take me three to four days.”) Think “Hashem” every time you hear the word HaMelech in the megillah reading and daven for geula and all that comes along with it.
• Purim, said Rabbi Wallerstein, is a most precious holiday to connect with Hashem. The greatest connection between a person and God is when Hashem is hidden. He said, you can go into the spiritual world on Purim and understand that sometimes, the thing that looks tragic, IS the yeshua (salvation).
Even if you have just ten minutes to daven formally, maximize the time. Bonus if you can daven early! (Netz, anyone? Every year I have high hopes…!
Deliver one mishloach manot to a person who doesn’t expect one from you. Think of someone you fell out of touch with, someone whom you would like to know better, or someone isolated or homebound. Who is hidden in your life? How can you make connection?
Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt”l, describes: “A person should feel there is some point that is a ‘secret’ between him and Hashem in his heart. It is those corners of his soul in which a Jew feels a personal connection to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. If someone has ever tasted this, he knows there is nothing more beautiful in life!”
Prepare all the seudah food except challah prior to Purim. Dare to make a batch of fresh dough in the morning, and DAVEN as you mix, knead, and mafrish (separate) challah on this amazing day! (Use rolls for your mishloach manot and/or your meal).
Rav Pincus zt”l said: “We need to really truly believe that He can solve for us the problems that drag along with us year after year and to activate the kedusha (holiness) and siyata d’shomaya (divine assistance) inherent in these days.” Carry this thought with you on Purim as you daven during the mitzvot of the day!
Try to remain present and don’t worry that PESACH is coming soon, because you can make it IN YOUR SLEEP!
May we enjoy every beautiful moment of Purim and feel the greatest connection with one another, and with Hashem. (After a whole day of Purim treats, my children may agree for once on the importance of tooth brushing!)
Learn more about the author: https://juliehauser.my.canva.site/
To register for a Pesach Prep workshop: https://tinyurl.com/pesachprepwithJulie
Julie is an occupational therapist, photographer, and author of several books including her newest, titled Making It Mine. You may recognize her as the author of Pesach While You Sleep, or one of her other titles available here. Julie lives with her husband and children (who wonder which occupation is her ‘real job’) in Detroit, Michigan.