By: Zalman Nelson LMSW
Is your soul radio tuned to Purim yet?
Every Jewish holiday has its own unique message and growth opportunity that floods the spiritual airways energy and potential. If I know the frequency, tune in, and focus my efforts accordingly, the success is often multiplied.
For example, Rosh HaShana is about Kabbalas Ol and accepting Hashem as our King. Yom Kippur gives us teshuva-repentance, Sukkot is joy, and on and on. This means that working on my Kabbalas Ol will have greater success and spiritual assistance when done on Rosh HaShana, filling by Kabbalas Ol spiritual bank account for the year.
Let’s tune into Purim.
Imagine your the President’s Chief-of-Staff. Your position grants you great power and influence, and the President’s ear on a regular basis. Must come with a lot of perks. What would you do if you had a major personal problem that could be resolved by using your position? Wouldn’t you use your power?
Mordechai and Esther didn’t.
At first glance it’s hard to understand. After all, Esther was the queen and Mordechai was an honored minister – “yoshev b’shaar hamelech.” Yet in response to Hamas decree to “annihilate all the Jews, Mordechai’s people, throughout Achashverosh’s entire kingdom,” Mordechai and Ester instead shunned political clout and called for teshuva and fasting! Mordechai took to the streets in sack and ashes while Ester requested: “Go gather all the Jews…and fast in my merit. Don’t eat or drink for three days.” Only after instituting their spiritual approach did they turn to political actions.
That’s because the decree, like everything in life, was no random occurrence. It was a consequence, not a punishment; a sign from Above to do teshuva. The Jews had enjoyed their participation in Achashverosh’s seudah, which Chassidus explains as being the equivalent of putting their faith in mortals and denying their supernatural status as G-d’s chosen people. After Mordechai and Esther were sure the true cause was being addressed they turned to more natural means to nullify the decreeitself.
For you and me living in 2013, Purim adjusts the glasses with which we look at our lives and pushes us to always look deeper. The seemingly “natural and routine events” filling our days, the ups and downs we go through, the events and people we encounter, and their timing, are a cover for deeper movements being directed by Hashgacha Pratis (divine personal providence). So, a decreeis no longer just a decree, and a challenge doesn’t lack deeper meaning, and an opportunity isn’t random. Rather, they are billboards on our path through life focusing our attention on their true reality: their spiritual source. Hashem is right there with us in every aspect of our lives. Of course, action is still required. But, it’s done with greater confidence and trust, since we know that Hashem has timed it perfectly and our physical efforts are merely a natural garment surrounding the success and salvation He will deliver.
This means that yesterday’s disagreement with my boss, or an old trauma that resurfaced, is both deeper in meaning and happening in the perfect time. It’s this week’s issue – not last week or month’s. Purim should inspire us in our personal efforts, knowing that the issues we currently face are full of meaning and meant to be dealt with right now. It should also bolster our belief that we can and will succeed and achieve, since G-d is by our side.
Purim broadcasts a renewed awareness of G-d’s presence in the minute details of our daily experience; details that don’t necessarily scream out their G-dly connection, and are likely to be seen as disconnected from my soul’s reality. Such an infusion produces great limitless joy – “ad de’loyada joy.”
For “when one deeply contemplates Hashem’s true unity [that pervades creation], his heart will rejoice with this faith; his soul will be gladdened by it to the point of rejoicing and singing with all his heart, soul and might. For this faith is tremendous – since it constitutes an experience of the closeness of G-d…How great is the joy of a common and lowly person when he is brought close to a king of flesh and blood who lodges and dwells together with him in his [the commoner’s] home. How much more, infinitely more, [ought one to rejoice] in the nearness of the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, and in His dwelling” (Tanya, Ch. 33).
Zalman Nelson is an experienced social worker and addiction counselor whose approach to therapy is an integration of psychology, Torah an Chassidic thought. He believes that psychology has advanced since the days of Freud and rather than recognizing the Id, he focuses on the Yid–the Jewish soul. He is extremely successful at his brand of therapy and can be reached at kabbalahtherapy.com.