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Purim - Mishpatim/Shekalim

The Enduring Days of Purim

The Mishnah states that the Parsha of Shekalim would be recited in the Temple on the first of the month of Adar, in which Purim occurs. Today, it is recited on the Shabbos preceding the first of the month of Adar.

Esther 9:28 "These days will be remembered and observed in every generation, family, state and city. These days of Purim shall not cease from the Jews; their memory shall never leave their children."

The Midrashim declare: "The Holiday of Purim will always be recognized; it alone will never be nullified." In Ta'amai Haminhagim, the prophecy that the days of Purim will never be nullified is associated with the beginning of tractate Megilah:

Mishnah: The Megilah can be read on the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth or fifteenth of Adar. (Purim is today held in walled cities on the fifteenth, in unwalled cities on the fourteenth. These two days correspond to the two days in which the Jews defended themselves against their enemies during the Persian Empire of antiquity. In ancient days, the citizens of small villages had other days on which they could hear the Megilah reading. This rule no longer applies.)

Other holidays are limited to a particular day or days, corresponding to the time of year in which miracles occurred. Purim, however, is not limited to a certain day, because it is beyond time. In a similar way, its celebration will never cease, for it is beyond time. (Ta'amai Haminhagim)

G-d Himself is beyond time. Although there are times to be happy and times to be sad, as King Solomon said,

Koheles 3:4 "There is a time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to eulogize and a time to dance,"

nonetheless, faith provides a certain love of life, a certain constant joy. Pain is fleeting -- all of our life is but a brief flash -- but a recognition of the vast, intricate grandeur of the ongoing universe should give us a feeling of awe and inspiration. To be alive! To be a part of the story, to watch the unfolding of G-d's preordained plan -- life is the greatest, most sacred gift...

This is the story of Purim, as recorded for posterity in the biblical book of Esther: The mystical unfolding of a great salvation -- occurring at a time and in a manner that salvation would be the last thing imagined.

The Zohar states that our parsha, which discusses complex civil law, is the secret of the transmigration of souls. The court case dealing with damages and wrongful death is actually the unfolding of G-d's plan. Faith dictates that there is a judge and (ultimate) justice. Although our human eyes see the harsh reality of real-life suffering, our spirit must soar to a higher realm. G-d appears to be the hand of strict severity, but His might is tempered with incomprehensible generosity. All is in the balance.

It is up to us to look for the underlying miracle that permeates all existence. Our complaints spoil the beauty. Our cynicism mars the symmetry. Hope shows the awareness that full control is beyond our grasp; perhaps the Judge will heed our plight, perhaps the Designer will take cognizance of us.

Psalms 27:12 Hope to G-d; take strength of heart, and hope to G-d.

The Talmud explains: Pray. If you are not answered -- pray again!



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