Thursday, February 17, 2011

Purim Katan: Above Nature

Art Jacek Yerka
This year being a Jewish leap year, we have two Adars.  (The Jewish calendar follows a 19 year cycle, and there are seven leap years in each cycle.... which means that during the cycle we have 19 Purims, but only 7 Purim Katans)  We celebrate Purim in the second Adar, but in Adar I we celebrate "Purim Katan" (the little Purim) on 14 Adar I which begins tonight Thursday February 17.

There is a strong connection between Purim and Purim Katan. The Mishnah teaches: “There is no difference between the first Adar and the second Adar, except for the reading of the Megillah and the distribution of gifts to the poor.” [Megillah 6b]

How to nullify a decree [reprinted from - author unknown]

Both Mordechai and Esther realized that the decree regarding the Jews was the result of improper Jewish behavior.

Since it is abundantly clear that one cannot nullify an end result (the decree) without first nullifying the cause (the erroneous Jewish conduct), their first act was to call Jews to repentance and fasting.

Once the spiritual cause of the decree had been ameliorated through repentance, and because G-d desires that one act through natural means, Esther then went to Achashveirosh in an attempt to abolish the decree.

Because the appeal to Achashveirosh was merely the natural vessel for the true salvation that came from above, it is understandable that Mordechai and Esther were less concerned with physical appearance or diplomatic skills as they were with repentance.

The lesson for us is obvious: There are those who think that during times of distress and misfortune, G-d forbid, natural means should be the first course of action. The story of Purim teaches us that natural means are only a second step; the first step must be to strengthen our bond with G-d by studying His Torah and performing His mitzvos. Then, and only then, should we turn to natural means to extricate ourselves from our difficulties.

When we act in this manner, we can be secure in the knowledge that whatever natural garment we employ will act to convey the supernatural miracle that is ultimately responsible for extracting us from the troubles we may find ourselves in.

For just as this is so regarding Israel as a whole, so too is it in regard to individual Jews: Every Jew must know that he is bound up with G-d, Who totally transcends nature.

It is true that G-d's blessings must be clothed in the natural vessel of human action ("G-d shall bless you in all that you do"). However, after all is said and done, human activity is no more than a garment and vehicle for G-d's blessings. The main emphasis must not be on the garment, but on stimulating G-d's abundant blessings through the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvos.

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