This week Jews all over the world will be celebrating Purim, a holiday where nothing is as it seems; where the surface hides deep profundities; where the world seems turned upside-down and twisted inside-out. It’s a world of venahafoch hu, a world where the Almighty’s presence is concealed. His hand operates behind the scenes, pulling the strings of the puppets on stage, waiting for us, pleading with us, praying for us, to pull back the curtain and reveal His full glory. But until we do, it’s a world of opposites, contradictions and paradoxes. Yes, our world is turned inside-out and upside-down. It’s a world of confusion and insanity. But we can do something. We can emulate our ancestors. We can cry out to the Almighty. And we have to mean it. “We can’t take it anymore, God. We need Your help!” We have to peel away the layers to bring the Almighty’s presence into the world. To move from darkness to light.
How much of our daily lives no matter where we live might seem like one thing on the outside and another on the inside. How quick are we to judge what we see only with our eyes and not with our hearts. You might see a boy who looks somewhat religious on the outside but still doesn’t look like a mentch, and you immediately decide that he’s a bum and up to no good. Today we are living in a society that is missing Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and his teachings very badly. Most Rabbi’s look for their pupils in the bais medrash or in a Talmudic shiur. Not Rabbi Shlomo; he was the Venahafoch Hu Rabbi. In the most unlikely places, where one would never think to find a rabbi, that’s exactly where he was – reaching out and helping others, who might not look so kosher.
Rabbi Shlomo was the Mordechai of his time, not bowing down to conventional ways of bringing Hashem’s light into the world. So too Mordechai in the Megillah didn’t act according to what everyone else was doing. He wasn’t worried about what others would think, only of what was the right thing to do. He gathered all the children and taught them not to be afraid, and to be proud to speak the truth.
It is written in the Megillah at the end of the story, after Mordechai and Esther saved everyone, that still not everyone agreed with Mordechai. It says that Mordechai was “accepted by most of his brothers.” It’s doing the right thing even when it might seem like it’s the opposite of what everyone else is doing, even though you know, that it’s the right thing. Purim is a time that we all are putting out our hands to G-d and asking for his help, and it says that no one is turned down on Purim. Everyone is in a costume and the atmosphere is festive and everyone is happy. Let us not forget that after Purim not everyone has a place to go back to, and might still be wearing a costume. Open your hearts and hands not only on Purim, and let the Venahafoch Hu –opposite of what you might want to do – get the better half of you. By this kind of behavior all year round which starts with Purim, we will bring down the Third Beis Hamikdash.
Each act of kindness, each word of prayer, each minute of Torah learning, each donation to charity, slowly tilts the world upright on its axis again, from the axis of evil to the axis of good.
We must begin now, today, to build a better world for ourselves and our children. We have no choice. Sanity is slipping away and there’s no time to lose.