PURIM IN ISRAEL: A MOST JOYOUS CELEBRATION!
BY Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Purim, in Israel, is the most physical, spiritual, magical celebration of all the holidays. You can feel your inner child coming alive if you allow it. As Rosh Chodesh Adar sets in, the stores, shops and markets display their racks of vibrant, colorful costumes, masks and adornments for purchase. A spirit of merriment pervades the air and the spirit is contagious. You find yourself smiling both inside and out as you watch the goings on. The soul knows and feels at some level the deeper meaning of the holiday being revealed and seems to awaken from its winter slumber.
Purim is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Israel by all facets of society. Purim street parties take place in almost every city, town and village in the country. Parades of children in costume bring joy to one and all. Colorful carnival processions with vendors selling their wares bring a feeling of gaiety to the country. It is a joyous time of family togetherness and community involvement as everyone gets involved in the simcha of giving Mishloach manot and tzedakka.
On my first Purim in Israel, I had no way of knowing the beauty, wonder and emotions I would experience during this stunning holiday. Living in the Old city of Jerusalem, the spiritual epicenter of the universe, celebrating in our “DIVINE INHERITANCE” brought me to a place of the deepest, sweetest inner joy and utter child-like wonder. Imagine, you are living in a Palace and each day you awaken, dress and step outside your room and there right before your eyes are all the wonders of the Palace and everyone is there for you…to help you, to guide you, to serve you, to play with you, to teach you and everything is so beautiful, so regal and you are a part of it in every way…no separation. This is how it is on a regular basis…..living as a JEW in OUR HOLY LAND, SURROUNDED BY ALL THE NATION, but on Purim, it reaches a crescendo like a symphony.
On Purim day, the oneness is present and felt in the deepest way and I tapped into it. The communal prayer seemed to take on an added dimension as we cried out to HaShem. The awe and reverence I felt during the reading of the”MEGILLAT ESTHER” brought me to tears as the entire story touched the core of my soul in a way I had never experienced before. The congregants dressed in costume brought me to joy as the costumes added to the simcha of the day.
During the day, we saw children in costume and adults in costume and visitors in costume…such variety I had never seen and I was giddy with delight. Doors to homes were open and Jews stopped in to bring goodies. Yeshiva boys dance singing songs and collecting for their Yeshivas. There was music wafting out of the windows and laughter too….joyous laughter celebrating G-d’s goodness and kindness and celebrating VICTORY. You could grab a scoop of air permeated with joy and breathe it in deeply and be spiritually oxygenated. The Purim seuda (meal) was so elevated and the Torah so sweet and savory, I didn’t need dessert.
I was Divinely guided to dress up as a butterfly with colorful wings and antennae. A friend told me that the costumes we choose on Purim have a direct correlation to an inner reality. Without realizing it, my soul had chosen the butterfly costume and no wonder…..I had emerged from the cocoon of being an individual Jew in chutz la’aretz to rejoin our nation in OUR ANCESTRAL HOME. I was shedding the old, coming alive and transforming in OUR NATIVE SOIL. I was lighthearted as well as lightheaded and I spread my wings to soar!
My fellow Jews, my dear friends, may this Purim enflame your hearts to celebrate in the deepest way connecting you to your inner light, purity and beauty. May it unleash your yearnings to come close to Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu and our holy nation in a new way. May you perceive the good in yourself and others with unconditional love and May you accept the Torah anew with strength and joy. If you are living in ERETZ HAKODESH, savor everything around you especially the privilege of being HOME. If you are not here, may Hashem awaken a deep, inner yearning to COME HOME. Reinforcements are needed in the army of HaShem.
PURIM SAMEACH! With love, Ariella Bracha