Educationally Speaking – March 2020

A Simple or Complex Story: Purim?

Racheli Morris, Director of Education

Sometimes the world has surprises in store for us. At the school, we engage in learning lessons and practicing skills. But each of us can remember certain moments in our education where something changed within us. The stories of the Bible are inspired by God and certainly have the hand of humankind in their recording. Let’s look at the story of Purim and ask why was it included over other stories not included, say Hanukkah?

The story of Purim in the Book of Esther does not once mention God, but we can see the hand of God in almost every paragraph, or verse. It is a challenge for us to take our imagination and to make sense of a story, at one glance, quite simplistic that, upon further reflection, is more complex than perhaps the life of Abraham.

Purim tells of our prevailing over our enemies plans despite their blood thirst. Abraham tells of one man who is attached firmly to God. Is faith strengthened truly by the stories of Abraham and Sarah, or is our faith strengthened through the communal story of Purim?

In every generation, the oldest hatred – antisemitism – is found, yet somehow we Jews survive and thrive. There is not a prophet of God in every generation nor a Jerusalem to rededicate. But in every generation our community comes under attack and we respond. Murder, suffering, injustice, and melancholy are all concepts which we Jews must contend. The close guidance of God is more abstract to find and we cannot depend only on faith, but our own actions to thrive.

The laws of Purim are a recipe to survive our world.

  • Give gifts to the poor
  • Give gifts to your friends and family
  • Celebrate heartily
  • Study
  • Be willing to be confused

I do think that we can all study the essence of Purim and learn much while doing much. The month of Adar, when we say “when Adar enters, happiness and joy increase” leaves us with a time to express joy every year in order to rise to occasions that may confuse us, or cause us sorrow.

I wish you a happy, full of celebration, and meaningful Purim.