Guest Author - Lisa Pinkus
Purim is a holiday truly intended for community. All men, women and children six and older are required to hear the reading of the Megillah. One should attempt to hear the Megillah among the largest crowd possible. Why?
B’rov Am Hadrat Melech “With the multitude of the Nation is the King honored.” (Proverbs 14:28) This concept is loosely applied in many other situations within Jewish custom but is most strongly attached to the reading of the Megillah. When approaching a King or President, a voice can be heard more clearly if it comes from a crowd. We stand before G-d on Purim – together – to say that “ Yes, we see the miracle of Purim, and we are open to its lessons. We see how crucial our unity is.”
One might make an analogy of a rock band playing to an audience of 10,000 versus an audience of ten. The energy from the group of 10,000 is much different than that of the smaller crowd. The larger group setting positively impacts both the rock band and its viewers. So, too, our experience of the miracle of Purim is enhanced when we are amongst others. Our voice to G-d is also louder than it can be when we are by ourselves.
But, why is it on Purim that coming together is so crucial to the experience?
When Mordechai advised Esther to meet with King Achashverosh, Esther told Mordechai to gather all of the Jews in Shushan and asked that they fast. They united on her behalf. As a people, we needed to witness the magnification of our voices when joined, and we needed to experience the potential when taking part in a united mission.
The Hebrew word for Holy – Kadosh – is more specifically translated as separate. Many of our traditions are intended to make a separation from the ordinary. Kiddush, for example, on Friday nights is made to separate and sanctify this meal from an everyday dinner meal.
Perhaps the concept of separateness and that of B’rov Am Hadrat Melech along with the profound messages from Purim are present to teach us a very deep and complex lesson. We, the different sects of Judaism, believe we are so different from one another. We tend to focus on what separates us rather than what unites us.
When our oppressors attack us – do they stop to ask if one is reform, conservative or orthodox? Do they ask if we call ourselves a Jew based on our mother’s lineage, our father’s lineage or because of conversion? No.
One of the key ideas from Purim is that there are no coincidences. What appeared to be twists of fate throughout the story of the Megillah, turns out to be the hidden Hand of G-d. Purim brings with it our responsibility to recognize the influence of G-d even as He remains hidden today. It calls upon the Jewish people to come together in celebration of these miracles.
At a recent Purim lecture I attended, my Rabbi taught us that Mount Sinai was the place we accepted the Torah due to coercion (what else were we going to do with a mountain being held over our heads?). We lived as the Torah said because we had to. But, after the miracles of Purim – about 900 years later – we reaccepted the Torah from G-d on our own. We became a Nation on our own accord.
Now, it’s true that today our Nation seems divided and disjointed. But, is that really such a bad thing? Is it possible for the many voices to come together in the power of one? What are the concealed benefits of our separateness? Knowing of the hidden miracles of Purim, I’d have to say it’s ALL part of the master plan.
It’s obvious - G-d wants us all present – but does He really want us all to be the same?
May your fulfillment to hear the Megillah occur amongst a large crowd!