Thursday night, I found myself at Chabad Lubavitch of El Paso for the Purim festivities. This was my first Purim celebration in a long time. For Chantilly, this was her first Purim celebration.
“Purim is the holiday of joy,” says Rabbi Levi Greenberg. “Our sages teach us that the joy of Purim is the source of joy for the entire year.”
Why is that? Why would one day, Purim, be the singular source of joy for the year?
“The story of Purim,” says the Rabbi, “the message of Purim gives us the intellectual context with which we can view everything that happens to us in a way that does not make us depressed, sad, or despondent, but to have hope.”
In my previous article on Purim, we learned that Mordechai and Esther realized that everything that happened came from G-d. “What that says,” according to Rabbi Greenberg, “is that not everything that happens we are going to necessarily enjoy, not everything that happens we are going to appreciate.”
He’s right. No one enjoys being sick, depressed, or poor. Whatever is not positive, we long for it to stop, to end.
“Bad things happen, painful things happen,” he says. “However, we don’t have to blame ourselves for them happening. We don’t have to wallow in the sorrow. What we need to do is realize that this is somehow in G-d’s broader plan. That we definitely have a pathway in G-d’s plan. And, if we approach every challenge with the proper attitude, the way like Mordechai and Esther, they approach the challenge by strengthening their connection with G-d, that is able to give us the proper path on how to deal with every challenge we have.”
Even Rabbi Yisrael Greenberg said as much in the story he shared after dinner.
There was a man who went on top of a building in Manhattan, the Rabbi Yisrael told us. This man wanted to spend some time on the roof and get away from it all. The door closed behind him and locked.
This man was stranded on the roof, having left his cell phone in his office, he had no way to call for help. Then, an idea struck him. He would toss a dollar down to the ground and whoever found it would look up and he would be saved.
Down went the dollar. It was picked up, and the person kept on walking. He thought a five-dollar bill would get them to look up. It didn’t.
This man figured he would try higher denominations. A twenty, a fifty, a one hundred dollar bill. No one looked up.
The stranded man thought a moment and decided he would toss a rock down. Of course, the rock knocked a passerby on the head, and he looked up.
The Rabbi related this to our relationship with G-d. We tend to search out G-d when we are sick, or some misfortune strikes us. What we should be doing is searching for G-d always. We should wait for the rock to strike us before we call upon Him.
The story of Esther is the same thing, the rock striking the Jewish people. Maybe they became complacent. Maybe they were relying on themselves, and not the Mercy and Blessings of G-d. So, the rock that was Haman came crashing down upon them.
After being hit with this stone, they fasted, they wore sackcloth and ashes. They turned to G-d! In the end, they were saved.
Even in my life, I have relied too much on my own devices. I’ve ignored G-d far too many times. By doing so, I’ve had one too many “stones” enter my life to sort of wake me up.
I’m going through such a situation right now, and the story of Esther has reminded me that I need only turn to the source of all things and strengthen my connection to Him. In the end, there will be joy!
What have I learned from today? I’ve learned to remember G-d always. Not just when things are rough. I’ve learned that He is there, ready and able.
Rabbi Levi Greenberg can explain it so much better than me. If you have two minutes, I invite you to listen to his brief explanation via the audio clip above.