For One Day Only: $1=$4, Thanks to Matching from BIG Donors
These complex and compelling variables do nothing so much as cry out our utter vulnerability; our foolish and wicked behavior in response to them acknowledged by God while at the same time forgiven by Him.
“It is because of this,” says Rabbi Soloveitchik, “that man can stand before the Heavenly Bar of Justice, hoping for compassion and forgiveness. Despite his free will and accountability for his deeds, man enters his plea before the Almighty, claiming that he is not the author and designer of the worldly pleasures that were too powerful for him to resist.”
The lures of our physical world are all part of the goral that is the dynamic of our existence.
Is it not the purpose of Yom Kippurim for us to come face to face with our fallibility in the face of this goral? Like Purim, Yom Kippurim engages the big goral. The unknowns – the fickleness and irrationality of life that play out on a communal level in the Purim narrative – do the same in the everyday lives of each man, compelling us to seek God’s compassion and forgiveness on Yom Kippur.
Each and every day, we live personal “Purims” in which tumult, confusion, uncertainty, danger and temptation toss and turn us; every night is Yom Kippur, a time when our regret, sorrow, insecurity, need for understanding, sensitivity, compassion, and forgiveness bring us to our knees before God.
All of which speaks to Rabbi Soloveitchik’s insight into the similarity between the two holy days. But what about the mystics’ statement that Purim k’Purim, that Purim is a day like Yom Kippur? Did they mean that Yom Kippur is similar to Purim? Or are Yom Kippur and Purim one and the same?
The Gaon of Vilna taught that there are two exceptions to the principle that every Yom Tov is chatzi la’Shem v’chatzi lachem – devoted by halves both to God and to our pleasures and enjoyment. The exceptions, he said, are Yom Kippur, devoted exclusively to matters of God and spirit, and Purim, devoted primarily to physical pleasures.
On all other holidays we observe mitzvot commanded by God while at the same time we eat festive meals, make Kiddush, dress beautifully, and share worldly pleasures. But Yom Kippur is all spirit and Purim is all pleasure. No chatzi v’chatzi.
These days, the Gaon teaches, Purim k’Purim – are in reality two halves of a single day.
In Judaism, it is impossible for spirit to exist apart from the flesh or for flesh to exist without spirit. There can be no gashmiut without ruchniut; the two must be integrated and synthesized. So, I believe, the Gaon is suggesting these days need each other. Purim is the flesh on the soul of Yom Kippur. Purim is the gashmiut. Yom Kippur is the ruchniut.
There is an important lesson in the Gaon’s teaching. There are Jews who live a “Yom Kippur” existence, remaining removed from worldly affairs. They eat minimally lest the food not be sufficiently kosher. They drink little lest they become intoxicated. For them, every night is Kol Nidre. They sleep in their kitel and wake with their brows furrowed with regret. They take little pleasure from God’s world, the world God created and declared to be good.
On the other hand, there are the all-year-round Purim Jews; Jews who constantly drown out the soul’s demands and expectations with the noise of their internal groggers. They live in their festive masks, unwilling and unable to see themselves for who they really are.
These Jews – Yom Kippur Jews and Purim Jews – are each incomplete; halves of an incomplete whole.
Judaism teaches that we worship God with joy – ivdu et Hashem b’simcha. Judaism embraces optimism and hope even in the midst of Yom Kippur. Likewise, Judaism ushers in the delight of Purim with the serenity of the Fast of Esther. Judaism teaches that Yom Kippur begins on the ninth of Tishrei with a banquet of food and drink. It concludes with putting the first nail to the building of the sukkah and commencing the holiday of simchateinu, our joy.
Judaism seeks a of balance between joy and serenity, between physical pleasure and spiritual eternity. One cannot truly exist without the other.
About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That’s a silence we will continue to break.
Increasingly, Sweden is becoming a country where anti-Semitism & supporting terrorism is acceptable.
Rabbi Pfeffer points out that at his site, there are no one-line answers. “We want to show the people we’re interested in their questions,” he says.
The pathetic failure of the Marianne to reach Gaza is the best thing that has happened to Israel since Hamas mis-fired a rocket on its own civilians.
Wonder why Israel has the world’s most insane rules of engagement imposed on its military? Read on..
Think political Islam’s a problem now just wait until an Islamist nuclear umbrella covers the region
Fiorina’s wrong about Islam which embraces our death&destruction confusing pc theories for hard fact
Bangladesh PM Hasina is fighting terror not only for her nation but for the entire civilized world.
No necessity to redefine marriage, just address equal rights for couples in non-nuclear families
PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel
“Palestinian armed groups” & “local authorities” are named in the report; Hamas’ absence stands out
Dating apps have really changed the way many young Jews approach dating.
The families of those slain even publicly forgave the murderer. Charleston was serene and at peace.
Changing plans needn’t be a frustrating experience. Sometimes the new path proves far more rewarding
What makes a man dedicated to what is best, stray? What makes a leader, a rabbi, lose his way?
Lag B’Omer became the “Scholar’s Festival” reminding all that derech eretz kadmah l’Torah-
The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility
Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.
Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God
It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/purim-and-yom-kippur-an-odd-couple/2010/02/24/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: