It’s like a good old frat party – ample booze, music, dancing, great food (OK, no illegal substances)…and it’s a mitzvah too!?! Wow! No wonder Purim is my favorite holiday!
Seriously though, how are we to make sense of all of this? All year we are taught to be sober, introspective, low-key and industrious. On Purim – ostensibly a holy day – it seems to be the exact opposite. We have an obligation to become inebriated…not just a little tipsy; we’re talking fall-down Bowery-bum drunk! Smashed to the point of losing all ability to reason and to differentiate between good and evil. Astounding!
Here’s an idea that I think I shared at last year’s Purim party. Yes, while standing somewhat upright on top of a chair, outfitted in some costume that my wife thought was hilarious when she found it in the Goodwill store, one l’chaim too many in hand!
“Da’as” – intellect – is the gift that G-d gave us to relate to Him. Unlike a frog, ant or elephant that will NEVER understand G-dliness, spirituality or personal growth, we human beings DO have the ability and, hence, the responsibility to use our intuitive powers to seek out the Almighty, study and implement His directives, and transform ourselves and the world in the process.
But “da’as” is only the first step. More important is what we do with our knowledge. “Vahasheivosa el levavecha”: We are instructed to allow the knowledge in our heads to change our hearts, to enable the teachings of the Torah to permeate our essence.
3324 years ago we stood together as a nation at Mount Sinai and accepted Hashem’s Torah. We were overwhelmed with absolute intellectual clarity as to the veracity, brilliance and relevance contained within it.
With the passing of time and the resulting confusion caused by the destruction of our Holy Temple, we lost some of that clarity. As we descended into the comforts of the Persian exile, our minds filled with questions: Is every detail of every mitzvah really important? What if I don’t feel that a particular mitzvah is relevant? Does G-d really care? Sadly, our G-d-given gift of “da’as” was misappropriated to intellectualize, rationalize and make excuses for our lack of commitment and inspiration.
As we delve into the Megillah and learn the story-behind-the-story of Purim, we come to the realization that G-d and His relationship with us and our world is light years beyond our intellect. “Da’as” is only the portal through which we enter to embark upon our journey of discovery. The destination is becoming one with G-d. The vehicle and fuel to reach our goal is for us to allow the unfathomable purity of His Torah to transform us.
Every Purim, we stand up as a nation at our own personal Mount Sinai to re-accept Hashem’s Torah. Only on Purim we do it NOT with the clarity of our intellect, but with our entire essence. To symbolize the sublimation of our intellect to the Almighty, we – glass in hand – discard our “da’as” and proclaim, “Our whole being is dedicated to You!”
Is there a greater way to demonstrate our fealty to our Creator than through positive and uplifting behavior even while inebriated? Can there be a greater Kiddush Hashem than through sharing a d’var Torah or singing songs of praise to Hashem even while intoxicated and not in control of the intellect?
On Purim we prove that Hashem’s Torah has transformed us to the core! Purim is truly a holy day – Holy of Holies.
L’Chaim! To eternal life!
A freilichen Purim!