Archive | February, 2010

A Grown Up Purim

26 Feb

I think I’ve heard that Yom Kippur is “Yom k’Purim,” no less than twelve thousand times. I undoubtedly would have regurgitated this information if my teachers in seminary had not given it an actual meaning. There is a challenge we all have on Purim, and that is to see behind the mask. Purim, the whole thing, is a mask. We are told that this is the one day we can all go crazy.Drink, eat, dress up like Lady Gaga, drink a little more, give out meshloach manot, give matanot l’evyonim (charity to the poor),sing a few songs, write a few gramins, wipe the barf off the floor(clearly the last one doesn’t apply to all of us)…is this really what Hashem intended? Is this the holiday that will continue to be celebrated even once Mashiach has come?

No, and if you believe this is the Purim that will continue on forever, you haven’t been blessed with the ability to see behind the mask. You have a lot of davening to do and lucky you, the Superbowl of tefila is in less coming up this Motzei Shabbos. That is what is behind the mask of Purim. That is what Hashem is patiently waiting for you and me to reveal.

There are a million and one reasons as to why we are supposed to drink on Purim. Some say it’s to be b’simcha, some say it is to reveal our true selves, some say it’s because great Torah secrets can come from it. I’m not denying that. Me up against the Rishonim? No thanks, but here’s some food for thought-another, not very well-known reason for encouraging us to drink on Purim is–to keep us from removing the mask.

What is this mask hiding? The power of prayer on Purim. This is the day G-d saved an entire community of Jews from genocide. This is the day they all joined together despite office politics, shul drama and who’s contractor did a better job on finishing up the basement. They prayed with their full faith in G-d, and He turned their world around for them. That’s the power of of Purim. That is its ikar.

Go ahead. Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy the company of friends and family.Bake those hamintashin,shake those graggers…but don’t let go of this opportunity. Don’t rush through mincha because the seuda starts at 2 O’clock. Make this Purim a real Purim. Don’t be so concerned with feeling happy. If you’re a truly happy person, you understand that it takes a lot more than a bottle of Chardonnay and a silly costume to be that way. Take advantage of this opportunity. Treat Purim like a grown up should, and then you will see, it’s so much better than it was when you were a kid.

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Keeping it Real

24 Feb

Though I’ve just entered into the world of dating, I’ve been philosophizing and pondering the matters of relationships for a long time.

It all started when Disney’s Pocahontas came out. The movie petrified me (I don’t know how any normal 5- year old is expected to react indifferently to an on-screen shooting) but the love story between Pocahontas and John Smith had me enraptured. It’s not like I hadn’t seen a Disney animated film before. As a child of the 90’s, I had an array of “happily ever afters” to choose from. But something clicked this time. Suddenly a+b=c  made sense, but the equation had nothing to do with algebra.

pretty lady + handsome man= lovey dovey happiness

This new little equation helped me understand the world in a whole new way. The Jammin Oldies my babysitter played in the car now had meaning. Breaking up is hard to do and all we really need…is love. When we would take long car rides to the supermarket, I’d entertain myself by having my Pocahontas and John Smith figurines dance along to and act out the songs. Strange, but true. I was the dream child of Disney and Mattel’s PR team. I ate, breathed and slept princesses, Barbies and happily ever after.

Boy oh boy would they be disappointed in me today.

My parents gave me the gift of a Jewish education from pre-school through a year in seminary. Having been in The System my entire life, I am well aware it has flaws, but I would be a thankless wretch to say that going to Yeshiva day school did not help cultivate my commitment to living a religious life. Instead of being taught to incorporate the Disney equivelent of a+b=c into my life even further, my teachers helped me discover the real equation. Yes, the most lauded route was the “forget-boys-exist-for-the-next-four-years” route, and you just know that doesn’t go over well with most 15 year old girls who have already been IMing their crushes smiley faces since the 5th grade…but it had the element of truth.And I knew that. I knew it very well. You see, I never had the desire to flirt for fun or be in a relationship for fun. I wanted something meaningful and deep. I wanted the kind of relationship that would stand through the tests of time and endure the obstacles of the unknown.

I wanted the Real Deal. I always have and I always will.*

You see, what made Pocahontas and John Smith different (well, in the movie at least), is that they had obstacles to overcome. Their relationship didn’t “just happen,” they made it happen. The magic of “love” didn’t turn John into a handsome prince nor did it awaken Pocahontas from a deathly slumber. Despite all the Disney fluffing and packaging, an element of truth still remained. Finding the Real Deal requires work. Finding the Real Deal requires effort. Finding the Real Deal means facing rejection. Finding the Real Deal means facing disappointment. But more than all of the above, the RD requires courage– the courage to be yourself, the courage to allow others to see you as you are and the courage to see the beauty in imperfection.

*Subject to change. Once I have met my RD, I plan on going from “wanting” to “being satisfied with” the latter mentioned.