The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Purim Koton in Thought

Taken Purim last year in Los Angeles

The course of the year, for a Jew, is ruled by the Shulchan Aruch -the code of Jewish law. From when we rise in the morning to when we close our eyes at night, from the first day of the year to the last -every subject and event is covered.
The very last laws discussed in the first volume of Shulchan Aruch are those of Purim Koton -the minor Purim celebrated when Adar -the month of Purim- is doubled in a leap year when the 'minor' Purim is held the first month, and the 'main event' the second. The very last line mentions that Purim Koton lacks any specific mitzvah, the custom being only to make a slightly larger meal, and then ends with a verse from Proverbs -"He who is of good heart is festive always". This verse brings the Shulchan Aruch full circle, entwining the beginning with the end; for the Shulchan aruch also begins with a constant -"I set G-d before me always."

These two constants -the twice mentioned 'always'- are the two foundations and pillars of our divine service -every commandment that we do and deed that we perform must be imbued with the awe and love of G-d. If the entire body of the Shulchan Aruch is a path, then these two constants are the guiding stars -where we must begin and where we must end.
In the cycle of the year, as it follows the path of Torah, Purim Koton is the last holiday discussed, the second constant and the source from which we draw our inspiration and joy for the entire year.

Seemingly this concept is somewhat odd; after all why is Purim Koton -a holiday disignated as minor by nature of its very name- the source of the lofty concept of joy in and love for the divine? Surely other holidays such as the holiday of Sukkos, Simchas Torah, or the main holiday of Purim would be better sources of joy. What is more, Purim Koton lacks even a basic mitzvah to separate it from a mundane weekday -we are permitted to do work, we do not dance with the torah, or read the megillah . . .

The answer lies in our very question.

We do not do anything mundane -any of thirty nine forbidden actions- on Shabbos or Yom Tov, for these days are zones of heightened spiritual intensity, when what seems to be merely a simple action is in contradiction to the spirit and energy brought down during the time. The revelation is so intense that anything else is simply negated by it. Paradoxically, however, the very lofty nature of the revelation of any given holiday, is in contradiction to the world -it's greatness leaves it isolated from the day to day fabric of time; it is left as a realm unto itself.
On those holidays that allow work, such a Chanukah and Purim, the revelation is able to express itself in the mundane -the world ceases to be a contradiction to G-dliness, and rather becomes the ultimate revelation of it -the essence of the Creator who is exalted far beyond the limitations of revelation is felt.

The Mitzvah of each day is the vessel that brings down its revelation, thus when we blow the shofar we crown G-d as king, when we eat matzo we endow ourselves with faith -for matzo is the bread of faith, and when we read the Megillah on Purim we gain the strength to serve Heaven with joy . . . But every mitzvah, as mentioned above, must be built upon the foundations of love and fear -when we are joyous on Purim, we must also have the self-nullification prerequisite to the mitzvah -thus our joy is kept within the limitations of the mitzvah; its joy, itself one bound to a specific action, is mixed with a sense of awe.

On the day of Purim Koton there are no specific and unique mitzvos; we are able to rejoice in the pure and unadulterated pleasure of our bond to the creator, the joy of being a Jew -a joy that stems not from obligation or duty received as a yoke from above, but rather the eternal joy of our essence.

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Nemo said...

"In the cycle of the year, as it follows the path of Torah, Purim Koton is th last holiday"

Huh? Purim itself is the last holiday...

Mottel said...

I hope it's clearer now.