web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



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
Ferguson, Missouri: rioting against racism, encouraging murder
The Foul Stench of the Ferguson Fallout
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

Here, things seem to get a little hazy, why should a Jewish State “based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel” confine itself to ensuring “complete equality… irrespective of religion, race, etc.”, especially when this includes “Arab inhabitants” who launched an “onslaught” against the State, months before it even existed? […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
800px-Israel_Hebron_Cave_of_the_Patriarchs

Racheli Frankel: “I didn’t think they were thrown just anywhere. The tears of Hebron embraced them”

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.

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.

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: