Upside Down and Inside Out: Inscrolling The Megillah of Esther
Congregation Devar Jonah
A Seder? For Purim? Anyway, like the drunk who is sober only on Purim we must first discuss the serious elements of the holiday, or should I say holyday. At first glance Purim is the diametric opposite of our holiest day, Yom Kippur. The most secular Jew fasts on The Day of Atonement but would rarely consider feasting and drinking on Purim. The first is a holyday the second a holiday, right? Wrong. Comparing Yom Kippur to Purim we must conclude that Purim is holier. Hebrew scholars will take note that in Hebrew the Day of Atonement is Yom ha Key Purim. This translates to “A Day like Purim!
Does Purim offer the key to Atonement?
Wisdom is found in the power of this question. The Day of Atonement is a day like Purim because on both holydays we wear masks. The masquerade of Purim is obvious. We cross dress and wear the garb of our adversary. On the Day of Atonement we masquerade as pious Jews!
Our newest mask is Kaballah. Kaballah is all the rage. All the Rabbis are calling Judaism 101 classes Kaballah classes, or Jewish Mysticism. On Purim it is revealed that Kaballah is not mysticism. In fact Kaballah is based on Judaism simply means to be receptive to the inner meaning of the rituals of Jewish observance. True Kaballah understands that the rituals of Judaism make everything happen and transform everything. Authentic tradition (Kabballah) is Revelation and not hidden. Secrets become basics and the hidden revealed on the day that is like Purim and on the day of Purim itself. Upside down and inside out Purim gives order to the chaos of existence. In Kabballahistic terms it is the holy day of Keter Malchute.
Keter Malchute describes the essence of Purim. Queen Esther wore a keter malchute, a royal crown, upon her coronation as queen (Esther 2:18) Keter means crown.
What is Malchute?
Malchute is the kingdom of heaven on earth, when tyrants wear no crown and the hidden becomes manifest. As we pray in our adoration, The Alenu, “the world will be perfected under the reign of the Almighty, all humanity will call upon Thy Name, and all the wicked of the earth will be turned to Thee.” This is Keter Malchute. A day like Purim, finally!
On Purim we are reminded that everything is relative. Invite your family to experience the eternity of time in that every holyday has a dimension of every other holiday. The Day of Atonement is like Purim. The Sabbath is remembered as an Exodus from Egypt. Every Shabbat is a type of Pentecost as we pray for a revelation during the Torah reading. We open our prayers for Chanukah and Purim with acknowledgements of the miracles and redemption performed for our relatives in the past. We note however how different the miracles are. On Chanukah the miracles are open, oil burns for seven extra days. Purim’s miracle is hidden, like Esther, and a God not even mentioned in the Megillah saves us. Purim is connected to Passover by the fact that Esther broke her fast on the first night of Passover! The King may have awoken with a hangover from the four cups of wine and indigestion from the obligatory matzos! Esther opens the door for Elijah! Also, our Rabbis teach that we are to begin our research and discussions of Passover thirty days before the holyday. Purim connects to Passover. We conclude with our original interconnection, Purim and Yom Kippur. Repentance by fasting is obvious. Repentance through joy is the key challenge.
On Purim everything is an ordering of chaos as we sanctify the sanctuaries of our minds and our homes by preparing a Seder.
1.) The Book of Esther, in English, unless you are a Hebrew scholar.
2.) Food for a festive meal. (Purim Se udah)
3.) Gifts of food to exchange. ( mishloach manot)
4.) Money set aside for the poor. (Matanoat la- evyonim)
5.) Two hamantashen per celebrant.
6.) Surf, sail, or deep sea dive for more food for thought. When you order the chaos of information we call ignorance you will create your own Seder.
While some rabbinic authorities insist on Ten cups of wine to drink, dedicated to the destruction of Hamans Ten Sons who represent the dark side of the Ten Dimensions of the Sepheroat; we take the more conservative view that Four cups are required.
The Four Cups of Purim represent the four exiles of our history. On Passover they remind us of Gods four promises of redemption. On Purim we are intoxicated by the knowledge of the destruction of our worlds by the tyranny of history. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, are all remembered for turning the world on its head. They devoured Israel and laid waste her habitation. Called “civilizations”, in reality they left legacies of chaos and destruction. History, in fact, has been a day like Purim.
Baruch ata adoneigh alohaynu melech haolam bora pri hagafen. Drink
Modeam anacynu lach shata gam malca bora pri hagafen.
We now acknowledge You as Malchute (The Crown of Creation) creator of the fruit of the vine.
(The third and forth cup are consumed whenever you want during the Seder.
The child who has mastered the power of the question says:)
How different this night is from all other nights.
My eyelids are growing heavy and I think I need a snack.
These are the hamantashen Haman wore on his head long ago in Persia.
The three sides represent the three Sepheroat: Chochma Bina and Daat (Chabad). Haman crowned himself with dogma ignorance and persecution.
We devour this Hamantashen and send Hamans memory to the dunghill
Who knows Ten? Ten are the Utterance at Sinai, the basics of our tradition.
Ten are the Plagues of Egypt and Ten were the sons of Haman. Ten times ten are the tyrants of history:
10.) Osama (OCM)
(Discuss your top ten tyrants.)
(Musical interlude: Play selections of your top ten favorite anti- war anti- poverty anti- ignorance songs.)
The Purim Feast
Drink the third cup. Break bread. Eat.
Reading The Megillah around the table: Start telling the story of Purim from memory around the table. (Hint: You may start in the book of Exodus and retell of the attack of the Amalakites.)
Now read all Ten Chapters of Esther after the following blessings:
1.) O Thou who is Thee, You reveal yourself as She on Purim, enjoining us to wear the Keter Malchute.
2.) Reveal to us the hidden miracles of old on the merit of our ancestors.
3.) Lady our God we feel connected to you by sanctifying this time for you alone keep us alive and aware.
Ten of the twenty questions: (You ask the final ten)
1.) Is this for real?
5.) Did the King use the articles from The Temple in Jerusalem for his feast? What could God be telling us?
6.) Does Esther teach that intermarriage led to the survival of the Jews?
7.) The plots seem a bit contrived and convoluted. Is the Readers Digest version of the story Kosher to fulfill the obligation to read the story?
8.) Will a modern version of Amalek and Haman take place in the Persia of our time?
9.) Does Esther imply the messiah may be a woman?
10.)Since we learn in chapter nine verse twenty two of Esther that Purim is a day of “entertainment and joy” is it permissible to fulfill our obligation to hear the story if we watch the movie version of the Megillah?
The Seder is ended. Back to chaos. You are now ready for Passover.