web analytics
October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Purim And Yom Kippur: An Odd Couple?


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.

Mah Nishtanah?

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 e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Purim And Yom Kippur: An Odd Couple?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Steve Emerson, author, journalist and terrorism expert.
Haaretz Smears American Terrorism Expert with Political Hit Job
Latest Indepth Stories
Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

The Rosenstrasse area of Berlin, where Jewish husbands of non-Jewish German wives were held.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Guess who's behind the door?

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

If Hamas is ISIS, the world asks, why didn’t Israel destroy it given justification and opportunity?

That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.

We have no doubt there are those who deeply desire to present themselves as being of a gender that is not consistent with their anatomy, and we take no joy in the pain and embarrassment they suffer.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

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: