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The Emotions of Purim
Torah Reflections for Purim
The Purim story is one of redemption and joy. In Persia, under King Ahasuerus’ reign, the Jews lived a good life. That is, until their existence was threatened by the evil Haman, a close confidant of the king. Haman’s evil plan would destroy all of the Jewish people in the land. Fortunately, King Ahasuerus had married Queen Esther, who unbeknownst to him, was a Jew. Esther discovered Haman’s secret plan to eliminate the Jewish people, and told her uncle, Mordechai. Together Esther and Mordechai created an elaborate plan. To create a receptive atmosphere, Esther wined and dined the king and enticed him with her beauty. She then revealed that she herself was Jewish and pleaded with the king not to put an end to her people. The king ordered Haman to be killed and the Jewish people rejoiced and celebrated their redemption. The story of Purim can make our spirits soar and our hearts dance, if the time is right. Now, I ask you, do you feel like dancing at this moment? Do you feel like going to a carnival and masquerading as Queen Esther or Mordechai? If you are in pain or long for healing, perhaps this is not the case. It seems to me that there is an inherent dilemma in this situation: How can we rejoice at times when we feel there is little or nothing to celebrate? Or in other words: How can we balance the pain and the joy in our lives? There are times when we see or hear other people laughing and in good spirits, and we do not feel that same delight. We may not even be able to smile at the happiness of those we love. Deep in our hearts we yearn to join in that elation, but something blocks us. We may be struggling with the decline of our own health or mourning the loss of a loved one. Our thoughts may be filled with questions about life and God and our place in this world. What do we do in those instances, when we feel nothing inside, or a sense of grief or anger? How do we then go about dealing with the outside world, its pleasures and festivities? It can be a struggle to reach through the pain and feel some joy. I would like to remind you, as I often remind myself, that in times of hardship we may be able to move toward a greater sense of shalom as we remember when life was not such a struggle. Do you remember how you have smiled, how you have laughed, and how you have prevailed and celebrated? This may be difficult to recall right now, but maybe, somewhere inside, there is a small space for that joy to surface even for a moment, if not now, then soon. As we watch others rejoice at this time, as Queen Esther and the Jewish people of Persia did, let those memories fill us with happiness and hope. Let them help us to find a place inside of comfort and solace. Perhaps these memories themselves will provide us with some contentment and even a smile. Indeed, the annual cycle of Jewish holidays invites us to move together through the full range of human emotion. If, at this time, the pain is too strong, listen to your heart and be true to your needs. During difficult times, may we all be blessed with the strength to honor both the struggle and the joy in our lives. Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, Eric Tarica This Torah Reflection was written by Erin Tarica, MSW, MJCS, when she was Outreach Coordinator at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center. The Torah Reflections series is published by the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, a beneficiary of t he Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, information and healing-oriente d resources can be found at 3330 Geary Boulevard, 3rd Floor West, San Francisco, CA 94118 (415) 750-4197



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