Each year we face an old holiday as new people. Our experiences over the previous year change us as well as our goals for the new year. Our relationship to “constants” also changes, keeping the holidays themselves alive.
My thoughts about Purim this year have much to do with my deepening study of the Ramchal, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, a late-seventeenth century kabbalist, moralist and poet, much of whose focus was updating an understanding of the great talmudist and mystic, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar, in light of the relatively recent revelations of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the famous Ari of Zefat.
Hopefully, this pedigree won’t be off-putting since ultimately our mystical traditions, our ethical traditions and our historical traditions all merge into the multi-faceted gestalt of our Jewish experience.
Anyhow, perhaps the most obvious, although often overlooked feature of the entire Purim story is the elevation of Esther, the Queen, personifying the feminine, to becoming co-equal with the King, obviously the male principle.
Not surprisingly, the ultimate rebalancing of our universe which we code-word as “Geula”, redemption or Mashiach, Messianic reality, is described by our mystical language as the rising of the Feminine and it’s ultimate unification with the Male, completing the Wholeness of God.
The connection to Purim is thus pretty obvious. The resolution is the salvation of our people, Light and Happiness, the world put aright. “Tikkun Olam” in current, but timeless language.
Here, however, I hit a brick wall since I cannot fully understand what this Feminine Nature is that must rise to its own level. I do know that it isn’t the Feminine miming the Male, since if that were the case there would be no point. It’s illuminating that in our mostly male-composed literature, we use the phrase “Raz”, secret or mystery, to describe that which is as utterly unknowable to men as the Male is to women. But perhaps that is part of the beauty of it all.
Purim always falls around the Tora portion of “T’Zaveh” which focuses on the clothing and the initiation of Aaron, the Cohain Gadol or High Priest. Judaism doesn’t subscribe to nepotism, so Aaron’s merit of this position has nothing to do with his being Moshe’s brother. Rather, as the Ramchal points out, his chief activity of “ohev shalom v’rodef shalom”, loving and actively creating peace, especially in the realm of “shalom beyn ish l’ishto”, peace and love between man and wife, uniquely qualifies him to be the human agent to work towards this unification of the Divine Feminine with the Divine Masculine within the activities of the Temple, the Divine Resting Place. Perhaps, by donning the holy clothes and drinking from the holy vessels plundered from the Temple, Ahashueros inadvertantly invokes this special energy which initiates the entire process, culminating in the final rebalance.
So, Queen Esther rises and perhaps we, both men and women, can allow our feminine sides to rise to their own uniquely co-equal status within each of us so that this year truly, “L’Yehudim Hoyta Ora v’Simcha”, “to the Jews (that part of reality we code-name “Jews”, i.e. balance, morality, integrity) there will be Light and Happiness”
Chag Purim Sameach