Thursday, March 4, 2010

Parshas Ki Sia/Para 5770

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Erev Shabbos Kodesh, Parshas Ki Sia/Para

19 Adar 5770/March 5, 2010

I write these words as the joyous tunes and atmosphere of Purim is still swirling around me. The much anticipated and beloved holiday has come and gone in its usual haste, leaving us to wonder how it passes so fast.

On Purim morning as I was driving with my family to deliver shalach manos I drove through some of the Spring Valley side streets, a bit out of the Jewish community. The immediate contrast was striking. Suddenly there were no costumes to be seen, no jovial welcoming atmosphere of baskets and goodies being exchanged, and none of the gregarious laughter endemic to Purim. Suddenly it was a regular day with people caring for their needs in their usual self-absorbed manner. But when we reentered the Jewish neighborhoods a few moments later, we were once again embraced by the beautiful sights and sounds of Purim.

It is fascinating to think that in one area costumes and gaiety was wholly appropriate while, just a few blocks over, it was grossly inappropriate. In fact, even if a person walked those same blocks where it was appropriate to be dressed in costume on Purim one day earlier or later, his appearance would be incongruous. In other words, everything is a matter of time and place.

If that concept is true in general it is all the more true in regards to Purim. If we would act as we do on Purim any other day of the year people would surely see us as eccentric and strange. But during the twenty-fours of Purim certain boundaries of normalcy and expectations are altered so that we can spend the day together in exalted friendship and conviviality.

But now Purim is over! The matanos laevyonim we gave has been well spent, the seudas Purim has been cleaned up – with tables and chairs folded and food put away, the unparalleled drinking has completely ceased, and the shalach manos baskets and goodies are being sorted as mothers begin to think about which chametz foods they want to get rid of, as they commence their Pesach cleaning. It definitely seems as if Purim has come and gone. Has the day been reduced to a mere fleeting memory?

The truth is that while all of the physical remnants of Purim have been put away, the true essence of Purim must remain with us permanently. The feelings of friendship and warmth that underlie the entire holiday must stay with us long after the costumes have been put away and the wine bottles have been emptied from the recycling bin. In this sense, only the physical components of Purim are limited to time and space, while the true essence of Purim transcends all limits.

After we concluded our beautiful and emotionally charged seudah on Purim afternoon, I had the opportunity to go with a few members of the shul to the Tish in Skver. It is an experience that cannot be captured in words. The energy that permeated the room while thousands of people jumped up and down on the bleachers singing, “Rabbi Akiva said: Praiseworthy are you O Israel”, with the Rebbe enthusiastically goading them on, was simply euphoric and indescribable.

For a half hour I stood holding hands and dancing with a chossid. Before I left I instinctively turned and hugged him. On Purim we both had reason to celebrate as Torah Jews and what could be greater! We may not have known each other, but on a spiritual level we were very close!

Purim has indeed come and passed, but I sure hope it’s not gone!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum

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