by Rabbi Moishe Kievman
Recently I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the MAR-JCC on the topic of Joy. Although I get to speak there quite often, this time the participants were especially engrossed in the topic, since Joy is something that we all want to experience. I welcomed all sorts of questions, as we together discovered the different levels of joy, and how to best bring them about.
According to statistics, there are more people who suffer from some sort of depression than any other disease. While some treat this terrible mental illness with pills, the Talmud tells us that Joy breaks all barriers and that the more we fill ourselves with joy, the less time we think about ourselves, and the less we suffer. Helping others and keeping our mind focused on helping others is another way to fight depression.
It’s mind boggling to see how huge of an epidemic it is, in this day and age, when we have more technology than ever, and better applications to help us be in touch with friends. Yet the suffering of a lack of real friends and friendship is as prevalent as ever.
On Purim, when the holiday is really all about Joy, we deal with all of the above! The four special Mitzvas associated with Purim, are 1) Giving gifts of money to at least two poor people. 2) Sending food gifts, made up of at least two types of foods, to at least one friend. 3) Enjoying a festive Purim meal, preferably with friends. And 4) Recounting the story of the Purim miracle, by reading the Megilla, also known as the Scroll of Esther.
When we take the focus off of ourselves, and instead see how we can help others, by giving charity and giving gifts of food. When our focus is shifted from celebrating in silence, to having a meal with others. When we remember the miracles that occurred, not just to our ancestors many years ago, but also to us, over and over again.. It really forces us to bring out our inner joy, and slowly transform it into a pure joy!
The festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar. It begins this year after sundown on Monday, March 6 and ends at nightfall on Tuesday, March 7. The holiday commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in Ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.”
I encourage you to contact your local Chabad or synagogue to see what they’re doing to celebrate. You’re of course welcome to join us, free of charge, at our annual Purim Party! I invite you to join me in strapping on your flight attendant or pilot suit and brace yourself for liftoff at this year’s Purim celebration, dubbed “Purim – A First Class Experience on Hakhel Air”! It’s Chabad Chayil’s creative twist to this year’s community celebration of Purim. The festivities will be held right behind the construction site at 2601 NE 211 Ter on Tuesday, March 7th, featuring live music, food and lots of fun.
Every seven years is a Hakhel year. In ancient times, during a Hakhel year, Jews would stream to Jerusalem to unite in the Beit Hamkidash (See ChabadChayil.org/Hakhel). Currently celebrating a year of Hakhel, we chose the theme of traveling together to Israel, enjoying our Purim meal together on Hakhel Air. We’ll enjoy a delicious sit-down dinner (not airplane food), exciting in-flight entertainment and a duty-free bar. Megillah will take place in the ‘lounge’ as we’ll be of course traveling first class!
Billed as the most joyous date on the Jewish calendar, the daylong holiday commemorates the nullification in 356 B.C.E. of a Persian decree calling for the extermination of the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire as told in the biblical Book of Esther. Chabad’s original spin on this age-old holiday has helped bring the spirit of Purim to the area year after year.
The event is a community-wide program, and all are welcome to join, regardless of affiliation or background. Children and adults will enjoy great Israeli foods, a live rock band & plenty of other ‘in-flight’ entertainment. There is no charge for anyone to join, though donations always help us bring quality programs to the community.
For party details, Megillah reading times or to learn more about the holiday & the complete Purim story, or to help sponsor food for poor either locally or in Israel call (305) 770-1919 or visit ChabadChayil.org/Purim.
About the author:
Rabbi Kievman together with his wife are the ambassadors of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. They are the founders of Gan Chabad Preschool, your local CTeen & CKids chapters, CHAP – an afterschool program for Jewish children in Public Schools and direct Chabad Chayil. He’s the rabbi at The Family Shul and can be reached at (305) 770-1919 or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org