Purim / Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik

Purim and Vulnerability

“All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist.
When a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past.”
(“Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut)


In a previous blog article I wrote about Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s conclusion that man is constantly afraid because he is vulnerable. The Rabbi actually wrote this in a commentary on Purim.
Why on Purim? Isn’t Purim the joyous festival where a lot of Jews get drunk and totally freak out?
Unfortunately, too many Jews and non-Jews alike only see in Purim the getting drunk holiday. Dancing and having a fancy Se’udah and that’s about it. No wonder, as we are obligated to be happy and celebrate.
But the joyous Purim also has a very different side and the holiday finds it’s counterpart in Yom Kippur. But what have Purim and Yom Kippur in common?
Definitely not the food! šŸ™‚
Maybe the joy because Yom Kippur is supposed to be a joyous day, too, as G-d is forgiving our sins.
On Yom Kippur as well as on Purim, we are asked to reflect our actions. We should do Cheshbon Nefesh and regret our wrongdoings. In Shushan, the Jews had forgotten their Jewish identity and neglected Torah studies. Instead, they entirely assimilated into Babylonian culture and ate non-kosher food at Achashverosh’s party. Why thinking of G-d when people are enjoying a happy successful life? There is no need for a G-d.
G-d always comes into the picture as soon as someone feels really down. Only then humans realizes their vulnerability. Yesterday the great successful guy and today everything has vanished.
As Rabbi Soloveitchik teaches that man is arrogant and selfish. However, as soon as mischief is ahead, we realize how vulnerable we are.
Every Purim, I think about this second side of the holiday. That there is a serious reason and that we are responsible for our actions. Meaning, we have to face the consequences.
It could be that I am even thinking too much about this side of Purim but I am simply not the type who is getting drunk and freaking out. šŸ™‚

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