If Only Prozac Was This Effective

by Rabbi Jacob Rupp February 26, 2018
 

 

passover-find-the-matza-fixed-englishMaimonides compiled a list of thirteen fundamentals of Jewish faith, included in which is the divinity of the Torah, the coming of the Messiah, and the resurrection of the dead.

I usually get blank stares when I talk about the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead to Jewish audiences, as other faiths usually get the credit for these ideas. However, we predated them all and taught them all.  So while that may be surprising, what is also surprising is that in the future, all Jewish holidays will be nullified except one, which remains relevant always.

The Jewish holidays teach us various lessons about G-d’s interaction with us.  Passover is when G-d took us out of Egypt.  Shavout is when G-d appeared at Sinai and gave us the Torah.  Sukkot is when G-d surrounded us with His clouds in the desert.  However, in the post messianic age, the holidays will become nullified because by that point we will have witnessed so many miraculous revelations of G-d that the holidays will pale in comparison.

What is the one holiday we will still celebrate?  Purim.  What?!

Compounding the question is that the holiday of Purim doesn’t appear in the Torah; it is a rabbinic holiday that was established long after the days of Moses.  Second, G-d seems to have taken a back role– His Name isn’t even in the Megillah!  So why is it so enduring that we will celebrate it forever?

The remarkable nature of Purim is that it isn’t remarkable at all.  The events of the story, from Achashverous to the overturning of Haman and the war that followed unfolded over more than a decade!  There were no ten plagues, no splitting of the sea, just a thin line of coincidences.

Esther happened to be Jewish.  The king happened not to sleep and read about the deeds of Mordechai. The sages of the Talmud debate if there was any divine insight or providence at all that went into writing the Megillah.

Our lives are full of uncertainty. Our destiny is blurred, the future unclear on a personal and national level.

A college student I was speaking to was bemoaning the fact that she felt utterly unprepared for her career and had no idea where or how she was going to get to where she wanted in life.  I tried calming her by telling her I didn’t know where I was going or what I would become either.  I’m not sure it helped.

Jews like to complain and stress—and after all there are plenty of things to be upset about.    Israel is under constant threat.  Anti-Semitism is on the rise.  The cost of private Jewish education is astronomical.  People are sick, can’t find their soul mate, don’t want to find their soul mates and marriage is in trouble. Social media shows us that someone out there is living their dreams and if you were just a little different, you could be too.

The story of Purim comes along and says that everything going sideways is really everything going according to plan. That each step of the process, no matter how scary or painful, is setting up the stage for the eventual redemption. The plan, of course, isn’t our plan, but it was never our plan.  G-d runs everything, and everything is for the best.

Simple is never easy.  Imagine the industries that would crash if this was all we needed to do.  Stop numbing yourself from life and start living with faith that G-d loves you and everything in your life is exactly what you need to fulfill your purpose.

This is the principle of Emunah, which means trust in G-d.  It isn’t logical – that which is logical doesn’t require trust. It isn’t emotional because there are moments that are profoundly painful and need to work to override the feelings of suffering and abandonment with feelings of serenity and peace.

But just imagine sitting back and thinking, “this is exactly what I need at this moment.”  As someone who attempts this practice and as a recovering control freak, I can attest to the flood of peace that follows.  We aren’t in control, so we can stop pretending we are. This lesson of Purim unlocks deep joy—and is a lesson that will never be overshadowed by the great miraculous fireworks of the Messianic age – rather it is a joyous concept hidden deep within us that we can access today.

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