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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


February 23, 2018  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

Purim nourishes the ‘eternal youth’ of our souls

By RABBI HOWARD SIEGEL Congregation Kol Ami, Tampa

At what point does one just admit that Purim is for kids? Answer: Not as long as there is still some “kid” inside each of us!

The holiday of Purim is a reminder of the ancient teaching in Pirke Avot (Ethics Of Our Ancestors): “Do not look at a flask of wine but at its contents. You can find a new flask containing old wine and an old flask that does not hold even new wine.” Or, on a more contemporary note, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

In truth, only the body ages, the soul remains the bastion of eternal youth (if one lets it).

Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, in her book The Tapestry Of Jewish Time, notes that at its root the Book of Esther “is a serious story with lofty ideas about roles of bravery, sacrifice, luck and hope, a story about our ability to overcome fate, a story about believing in ourselves even though we were never taught how. And it is a story about our romantic desires to be rulers – just and benevolent rulers – and to be desired for our beauty as well as for our wisdom, to save those we love, to command fealty, to root out evil, to throw ourselves into danger and emerge victorious, to be hailed a hero.”

As one ages, it is not uncommon to fill a lonely moment with dreams and visions of what could have been and what still may be. One dose of Purim is capable of whisking away the cynicism and skepticism of adulthood, if for only a moment, and returning one to the world of imagination and make-believe. A world of villains and heroes, princes and queens, good prevailing against evil, a time when in the words of the Book of Esther, “For the Jews there was light and happiness, joy and honor.”

Rabbi Cardin asks, “Beyond the genesis of the book, what does it mean that this tale, of the thousands of tales that were told over time, was canonized by the Jewish people and is cherished to this very day?” It means Purim nourishes the “eternal youth” of our soul when it is most needed.

This year we celebrate Purim on Wednesday evening, Feb. 28, and Thursday, March 1.

Be happy. . . not only is it the month of Adar, but time for Purim!

Rabbinically Speaking is published as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Tampa Rabbinical Association, which assigns the column on a rotating basis.

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