Yes, I like alliteration.
But here’s the real thing. Poppy filling can be dry and gritty and just not that tasty. I’m a prune guy… Always have been. And there is nothing more sad than coming home with a bag full of what is supposed to be prune Hamantaschen… going to take that first glorious bite… only to discover that they sent you packing with poppy instead. Apricot… absolutely! I’ll even eat cherry… but poppy. Sorry, can’t do it. (Here is a great recipe for the Prune Filling!)
And one more recipe… for the full ride.
So like Ben, that was the extent of Purim for me… The triangular pastry, the costumes, the graggers (noise makers)… screaming at the mention of Haman… Boooo!
But Purim is so much more… and the very story itself is so compelling and powerful. I am most definitely playing catch up, but sharing what I learn about the holidays… creating and building new traditions is something I am very excited about.
I love the notion of Mishloach Manot… the gifting of gift baskets of ready-to-eat foods… or just a couple of food items… Thanks to my friend Jonah for the primer and the invites! I am excited to hear the reading of the Megillah of Esther…
And yes… I am slightly nervous about the amount of alcohol that my friends in the “Chood” are going to try to ply me with. I have to drive home, fellas… Go easy!
But where my brain is really focusing… or trying to focus… is on the idea of a hidden G-d. Obviously the fact that G-d is never mentioned, not once, in the story of Esther, is extraordinarily significant… and it is a profound notion that keeps many debates and conversations going. This is the stuff that Yeshivas thrive on.
Often we cannot see Hashem, or at least we think we cannot see him… but faith and Emunah keep us connected and remind us that Hashem is always around us… always with us… always watching over us. Of course, we can always see Hashem… but it takes us looking for him… taking the time to truly see him in every single thing. This is an essential and wonderful way to live life.
But sometimes that is easier said than done. We rush through moments, we dash past things and people, that should stop and give us pause… and certainly, and at the very least, give us moments of contemplation, appreciation and pleasure… We need to take those moments… grab them… seize them…
The story of Purim teaches us the importance of unwavering faith… to doing what is right… to seizing opportunity and becoming a part of something much bigger than ourselves. For it is Hashem who ultimately saves the Jews from total annihilation. He is not mentioned, but he is there. And yet in this story, we the people become his partner. We are connected, we are unified, we are one. This idea is so vital in today’s world… and yet we seem so very far away from that.
The story of Purim leads me to think about how often we hide ourselves… We bury our eyes and thoughts in the screens of phones and tablets and computers. We hide our hearts and souls under the covers… behind closed doors… covered with makeup and veils and masks.
Revelation and openness is what we should be striving for.
And this leads me to another part of the story… and one that my friend and teacher Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld says is one of the most important lessons…
Mordechai says to Esther, while trying to convince her to talk to the King, knowing that she is risking her very life by simply doing just that… and I will paraphrase…
“Even if you do not do this, even if you are silent, the Jews will get rescued some other way and you and your Father’s house will be lost. But maybe this is why… for an occasion such as this… why you were made Queen.”
Essentially… this is going down, this is going to happen… and you can be a part of it or not.
When it comes to the world today, my friends… we are all facing challenges. Jews seem more dispersed than ever before… even when they are in the same room. The unity and unification seem lost to me…
The news this morning is brutal… heart breaking… devastating… with yet another terror attack in the heart of Europe.
Haman is back… or perhaps he never left… at least the evil he represented has never left. It seems more prevalent these days than I can ever recall.
As we send our thoughts to Brussels, and especially to Israel, where terror and evil plots and Hamans (perhaps it is no coincidence that the words Haman and Hamas are so close) are a nearly daily occurrence, let us all be Esthers and Mordechais!
Let us all stand up… and speak up… and be a part of G-d’s plan. Faith is essential, but it is not enough on its own. We must take action. We must rise… and together accomplish what Hashem has set forth for us… what Hashem has put into action… what Hashem has given us the opportunity to accomplish. We do have a choice… we do have free will… But you gotta be in it to win it… In order to get a part… to be a part of something… you have to participate.
Esther and Mordechai did… and helped save us in the process. Just think what would happen if we all did that… if we all yelled out… stood up… spoke out… Like our forefathers… like our ancestors… like those brave and wonderful souls who came before us…
Let us all say, Hineni… Here I am!