Purim: Learning to be Happy the Entire Year!

    March 2011 Purim          
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A Whole Year of Joy!

By Nachum Mohl

One of the more traditional songs that are sung on Purim is a Yiddish song, “A Ganz Yahr Freilach” which means “a whole year of joy”. The concept being that not only should Purim be a happy day, but all the days of the year should be happy – yet who can say that they know some one who is always happy? Is constant happiness a realistic goal? The happy person, meaning someone who is always in a state of happiness and joy, is an extremely rare exception in our time.

Purim is really the key to achieving happiness and joy for the entire year. We must look carefully at Purim to understand how we, too, can increase our level of happiness and joy until we can banish sadness almost entirely from our lives.

Let us look now at Purim and see what it teaches us:

Purim, along with many other interesting teachings, teaches us that G-d’s presence is always with us. Even though we can not see His interactions in the world, everything that happens, happens only because He directs nature in a manner that it bring about that which He desires to ‘happen’. Now we say something ‘happened’ but in reality, nothing just ‘happens’ by chance; rather everything that seems to just ‘happen’ has been directed to ‘happen’ in order to fulfill the will of G-d.

Like the story Purim, G-d caused first Achasverosh to rule over the entire known world. He caused Achaverosh to kill his wife and then marry Esther. Then he caused Hamen to ascend in importance in the court of Achasverosh in order that he should have such power that he could make a decree to have all Jews in the known world at that time killed. G-d had a reason for all of this which has many facets to it. For us what is important is to realize, like the Jews in Shushan at that time could not understand why it was happening, we also can not understand why G-d does what He does, but we can do is to realize that all that happens only happens since He wills it to happen.

The second step is to realize that all that G-d does is only for our good. We often can not perceive things being for our good or for our benefit. We are like small children who do not understand why the parent slaps their hand when they touch the gas knobs on the stove. We also can not understand why G-d does what He does. We, like infants, look at what we want as being ‘good’ and that which is against our desires as being ‘bad’. But G-d, like a loving parent who only desires for the best of his child and may have to give a slap on occasions, so too, G-d must give us a ‘slap’ on occasion to keep us in line. We can rarely understand G- d’s actions but if we realize all that happens is only for our good, then we can accept that which we perceive as ‘bad’ is really good even though we can not see the good in it.

The next step in attaining happiness and joy is to realize that we are limited in our abilities to do anything. Our successes and failures are really gifts from G-d. When we succeed, we should thank G-d, for it is only because He decreed that we should succeed did we succeed. When we have a certain ability that others do not possess we must thank G-d, since it was He who decreed that we have this ability or talent. The more one understands that every thing comes from G-d, the more contrite and truly humble he will be. The more one thanks G-d for his successes, the happier one becomes.

It is the person who believes in his own personal powers, talents and abilities that is the egotist; and it is the egotist who suffers from depression when his schemes do not work out successfully. The humble person (and here we do not mean a person lacking in backbone or self-effacing nebach but rather one who recognizes his particular talents as being gifts from G-d) does not fall into depression for he knows that all comes from G-d whether it be his particular talents or successes. He does not take failure personally rather he attributes it to G-d’s with holding success. He just needs to pray harder to G-d for success.

The next step is to many people the most difficult. Many people will agree with what we stated above but when it comes to everyday living somehow it stays in the person as an intellectual concept never descending from the brain as an intellectual value to the person’s body and actions and every day life. We can not just believe that G-d is in charge, we must act upon this belief. We must find a method of combining the thought with the actions of the world. Purim give us this ability. How? By giving us the four commandments on Purim.

The first thing we must do is read the Megillah. This is akin to the thought, the idea penetrating into the brain. Secondly we must give alms to the poor – take money out of our pocket and give it freely to those who ask or need it since all of our wealth came from G-d He will make certain that we will not become impoverished from giving charity. Thirdly we send food presents to our friends and we are amazed that by our giving we end up receiving. Then we come to the fourth step, the festive meal which includes drinking until we can not tell the difference between blessed in Mordecai and cursed is Haman. (BTW drinking is only for the men, women should not get drunk.) When we are willing to get really drunk for no other reason than it is the will of G-d (as given to us through his sages) that we lose our abilities to think and reason, we are reduced to being totally dependent on Him.

This is the highest level that a man can reach. To realize that we are constantly dependent on His good will, will bring us to real humility. We then become overjoyed when we are the beneficiaries of His goodness.

This process must continue the entire year. Purim charges our batteries but it is up to us to make certain that we have a ‘ganz yahr freilach’ – a year of happiness.


from the March 2011 Purim Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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