Purim: Rethinking Last Year

Last year I posted the following:
I’ve always found in interesting that one can fulfill the mitzvah of shaloch manos with two different types of food that fall under the same bracha (like a can of Coke and some prepared salmon). From a bracha point a view the foods are the same, yet have very different characteristics. Each person is also, on the surface, similar, yet we each have different personalities.

I think the other angle, that both foods can have the same bracha made over them is also worth thinking about. Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, in LIVING BEYOND TIME, quotes a beautiful idea by Rav Hutner z”tl. Rabbi Stolper write (based on Rav Hutner) that “the practice of gift giving and charity is unique to Purim, because it was on Purim that the Jewish people reaccepted the Torah. Unity is a prerequisite to the giving of the Torah. The Torah records that when the Jews prepared to receive the Torah, “Israel camped against Mt. Sinai.” The Hebrew word camped, vayichan, is written in deliberately written in the singular instead of the plural so as to inform us, as Rashi observes, that the Jews assembled at Mt. Sinai “as one man with one heart,” fully united.” (page 264)

Rabbi Stolper points out later that in Megillas Esther (9:23) we have the phrase, “ve’kubale haYehudim la’asos, And the Jews undertook to continue that which they had initally undertaken.” Again, the word ve’kibale is written in the singular. We were again an Am Echad when we reaccepted the Torah in the days of Purim.

This concept of being unified when being given the Torah is so important. IMHO, when it comes to Purim we want to emulate Hashem by giving, as this is one of the most direct ways to attach to Hashem (see Rav Dessler’s Kuntres HaChessed, or Discourse on Loving Kindness). “Man has been granted this sublime power of giving, enabling him too be merciful, to bestow happiness, to give of himself.” (Strive For Truth! Volume I, page 119). This idea of Rav Dessler’s has recently been “given over” and expanded by the author the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh in the translation of video seven, here (link thanks to Dixie Yid).

Ultimately, by giving to another (especially to someone we are not so close with) we are making a connection. We, in essence are looking past the differences that we have on the surface, no matter if those differences have to do with where we daven, if we daven, what we wear on our heads, or where we send our precious children to get their education. While it’s important to maintain one’s uniqueness within the collective whole, the bigger picture is that it doesn’t matter if it’s a Coke or some salmon we all fall into the same category, that being a Yiddishe Neshama.

A Freilichen Purim to you!

3 thoughts on “Purim: Rethinking Last Year

  1. Uberdox Fan

    Just found your blog via Facebook! Wow! Rav Dessler/Bilvavi/R Hutner all referenced! Gevaldik!
    Have a great Purim.

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