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Lessons and Insights

Contemporary Messages

The various elements of the Purim story and Purim ritual analyzed and conveyed in an engaging manner, along with contemporary lessons we can apply to our lives in the 21st century.

Purim Is Not Normal
..and neither are the people that celebrate it
Purim in the 21st Century
What message can I take from the celebration of Shushan Purim in my beloved Jerusalem, thousands of miles away? Is it my holiday, or am I merely a bystander while Jerusalemites are making merry?
Why Do Jews Go Berserk on Purim?
Isn’t there a better way to celebrate?
I’ve been doing this Purim thing for a long time, but it still makes no sense to me. Just because “they tried to kill us, but G‑d made a miracle” two and a half thousand years ago, we have to go berserk every year?
9 Life Lessons From Queen Esther
Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story and one of the greatest Jewish women in history.
While both Purim and Passover commemorate momentous occasions of Divine deliverance, their respective stories are extremely dissimilar.
The Gilded Cage
On the surface the book of Esther reads as a fable of sorts, filled with drama, suspense and a happy ending. However, keeping in mind that it was written under the rulership and scrutiny of the Persian king, care had to be taken to tell the story without offending sensibilities. A secret tradition passed down orally tells the real story.
The History and Meaning of Hamantaschen
Peeling back the layers of the Purim treats also called oznei Haman
9 Things Every Jew Should Know About the Month of Adar
Known as a month of celebration and happiness, Adar contains the joyous holiday of Purim. But that isn’t the only thing that makes Adar special.
I’m fasting today, but I’ll be feasting tonight.
Making Sense of the Madness
What is it about Purim that makes everything so dramatic?
Diaries of a Damsel in Distress
How to save her people from the royal decree? She had to visit the king. She knew it to be the only way. But how could she? She hadn’t seen the king in recent days, and who knows what his mood would be?
When We Became Jewish
The first time we're ever called "Jews" is in the Purim story. Were we not Jewish before then? Or perhaps the question is: what's the connection between Purim and Judah?
Miracles Masked
Strange is it not? A book of the Bible and not even one explicit reference to G‑d? Why is that? Perhaps we can answer this question with another question....
Purim and Noise
A challenge-free existence creates complacency and lacks depth. But when we turn challenge into an opportunity for growth we become stronger. The festival of Purim has a unique message...
Destiny Unknown
When the artist sets his hands to his craft, he turns his back on perfection, as a warrior turns his back on fear...
The Kabbalah of the Absurd
We all know madness well--we spend a third of our lives insane
Scholar or Statesman?
Mordechai comes across as a true 'renaissance man', respected and adored by his people. But the Talmud reveals a little-known fact...
The Purim Drunk
Surely there are other, more refined and more spiritual ways of celebrating and showing joy?
The Secret of the Hamantash
Wasn’t Haman the guy who wanted to wipe us out? Why would we immortalize him by eating cookies that bear his name?
Unmasking
One of the traditions of Purim is dressing up in fancy dress and wearing masks. What is the reason for this custom and how does it connect to the celebration of the day?
Alcohol and Jews
Whereas throughout the year alcohol consumption is barely tolerated by Jewish tradition, on Purim, the boundaries fall away. Why the change of policy?
The Inebriated State
Why do we drink on Purim? As with all Jewish questions, the answer is found on four levels -- the technical, the symbolic, the homiletic and the mystical
Was Vashti a Heroine?
A Study of Vashti vs. Esther
What a heroine Vashti was! No? And a disturbing thought suddenly hits me. What about Esther? Was she also "liberated"?
The Tail of Vashti
When I was sixteen, I went to Israel for two months and gained about twenty pounds. I had been thin, even skinny, my whole life and never gave my weight a second thought...
Why Is Adar a Month of Happiness?
Why is Adar such a happy month? Because it is so inauspicious for the Jewish nation!
Hatred
Can Judaism condone hatred? Or perhaps the question really is -- does a failure to hate evil constitute a tacit approval of its existence?
The Illogical Holiday
The Jews were illogical. G-d was illogical. The only one who acted logically was... Haman. No wonder on Purim we try to suspend logic!
Sixty Days of Purim
Purim, as everyone knows, falls in the month of Adar. Actually, according to the Kabbalists, it's the other way around: Adar rises in Purim...
Behind the Mask
“They all dress the same, they’re so boring.” The seemingly similarity in their outward appearance forced me to look inside and see each as person for who they really were...
National Heroism
All other holidays are other-worldly experiences. And then there's Purim. Gift giving and feasting. Good food and wine. Very un-transcendent.
Holy Hamantaschen
On the surface, the Purim story is not the typical background to a Jewish festival. Seas don't split, oil does not burn longer than it should and water does not turn into blood...
Do You Believe in Miracles?
Purim doesn't have any blockbuster miracle to celebrate. In the Purim story, things turned out positively, and we chose – we had the consciousness and vision – to see it as a miracle.
The Source of Happiness
Happiness comes with clarity of direction from within, and the ability to give meaning to every situation and experience. Haman could not be happy because his joy was purely external...
Will I Ever Be Appreciated?
Here's a much harder question: Would you help someone else if you weren't even sure that G‑d would appreciate it?
A Reason to Rejoice
The Jews didn’t back down. They were worried; they prayed, they fasted and they stressed. But their commitment was strong, and they were ultimately saved. Beautiful narrative. But how is that my story?
I have always felt an affinity to Queen Esther from the Purim story. Just like me, she married a non-Jew. And because of it she saved the Jewish people...
The Queen Who Lost Everything
Her face smiled but her heart cried. She charmed all, but couldn’t be charmed. She was far away from home, and only she knew just how far. But this was all for a good reason, Mordechai had said. What that good reason was, she knew not, nor when she would...
How Random is a Lottery?
How Random is Life?
Always Happy
On the essence of the “Little Purim”
It could have been the most joyous day of the year. Instead, “Little Purim” is an almost ordinary day, with no special observances associated with it. Almost, but not quite . . .
She Is Esther, or Is She?
Esther’s evolution seems to be one of a different nature. Her second name does not, on the surface, bring her closer to G‑d or to her people. It puts her into hiding . . .
In the Eyes of the Beholder
Understanding Purim
I slip into my “just do it!” outfit and wear a smile to a wedding, even though my heart is dull. The garb and the smile carry me into their space and I end up dancing with joy for the bride (or her mom, whose circle I've suddenly become part of!). But I have other masks too, unconscious and less virtuous . . .
Esther: Hidden Beauty
The modern day concept is “if you got it, flaunt it.” Show the world what you have to offer, be out there, be public, the more the better. It just isn’t so exciting to be the heroine behind the scenes . . .
Taking Off My Mask
When I was with her, my mask was off. And being around the real me was something I realized I don’t get to do very often...
A Single Act
I walked past a bus stop just as a bus pulled over and opened its doors for me. “No, thank you,” I shouted to the driver, “I’m just walking. I don’t want to get on the bus.” “I know,” he replied, “I see you every morning. I just wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired me.”
In Disguise
When concealment is healthy
Before this, I was the kind of person who never lied. I felt that honesty was truth and that I needed to engage in truth, at all costs.I have greater insight now about the issue of concealment . . .
A Dual Reality
Understanding Purim
There was a need to seek the truth. What was the truth about our parents' lives? What was it that they were not telling us? What was the hidden reality that they were concealing from us?
Queen Esther and the Kabbalah of Time
Wasted time counts for far more than the present moment, or even our own lifetime. This was Rabbi Akiva's message. A minute could mean a street. Think of Fifth Avenue and the loss becomes tangible...
Being You
A Purim insight
We all wear masks. And I don’t mean the ones we slip on during Purim. Many of us think that if we could only window-dress certain aspects of ourselves, then doors would be thrown open to us, and success, love and happiness would nip at our heels . . .
The Bottomless Cup
A Purim Lesson
This woman is like a bottomless cup of coffee. I give, and she wants more, and I give more, and she’ll want even more. I sincerely do feel badly for her. But I am equally scared to let a person who is in chronic, desperate need become dependent on me . . .
The Tail of Vashti
When I was sixteen, I went to Israel for two months and gained about twenty pounds. I had been thin, even skinny, my whole life and never gave my weight a second thought...
Prevailing Whispers
A Lesson from Queen Esther
They called her names. They wanted her to believe that the thing which made her different from them was terrible. They called her ugly. It would be a lie to say that the words didn’t hurt. Those words did have some power over her. But her mother whispered other words into her ears . . .
Release of the Trapped
A Purim Insight
Now, are the children or I doing something wrong? Are any of us actually out to trap the other? Are we being un-understanding? Inconsiderate? Lazy? Mean? Obviously not. We simply do not speak the same language . . .
I am Asleep Yet My Heart is Awake
An Art Journal, Part I
When we are awake, there is order. There is a hierarchy. Not so when we sleep. The powers conceal themselves. They go back to their source where there is no hierarchy...
Sharing the Credit
The Importance of Purim
Purim is a beautiful treasure that teaches us that even when we think that what we do won’t make a difference, it really does...
On the Night the King’s Sleep Wandered
An Art Journal, Part II
This was the Purim miracle. Where there had been the disorder of sleep and exile, where evil was able to domineer the good, there was now order. The Jews could overcome their enemies...
There's No
The Jewish view of royalty
It’s not that I support this sneaker-clad, pink-sweatshirt-sporting, exuberant young girl in a despotic vision of absolute control. And it’s not only that I am thinking: Yes, reach for the stars, dream big. It’s just that her claim is simply true . . .
The Rematch of the Centuries: Why Esther Became Queen
Why does Mordechai insist that Esther risk her life in approaching the king if he knows that there is no danger to the Jewish nation?
Who Runs the World?
G-d hardwired us to see our lives as mundane and contained within the so-called laws of nature, so that we are compelled to search Him out and find purpose, even where it seems there is none, within our personal life journey.
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