Mar 10, 2020

A Purim Thought

A Purim Thought
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

As part of the UJA-Federation family, we are involved in each other's lives, as well as the lives of countless others in our wider community. The updates and headlines regarding the spread and impact of coronavirus are thorough and important, and it’s reassuring that we're all doing our part to keep healthy and do what we can to protect others.

The inner experience of all this is also deeply important, and it is for that reason that I share these brief thoughts. It is one thing, a primary command, to be mindful of our health and well-being. But Jewish tradition also reminds us that souls require tending, especially in moments of tension and stress.

Jewish tradition tells us that one who visits the sick removes one sixtieth of the illness. This “sacred math” makes clear that visiting the sick is not a cure but rather a comfort, not the end of disease but a way of being present in the face of human vulnerability. The connections our sacred work at UJA-Federation of New York creates are part of being present with each other, a yearlong commitment to nurture a network of relationships that keep millions of people connected, even and especially in this difficult moment.

And so my friends, let's take a lesson from the light and gladness that eventually defined the holiday of Purim. Our community was beset by threat, and emerged stronger, and then recommitted to ritually mark the day with acts of mutual concern: gifts for the poor and nourishment for neighbors.

Through these lessons, and through the availability of modern technology that transcends distance, may we remember that we can be in community without being next to each other, for now, that the ties that bind remain strong, that health is a sacred priority so that we might come together even stronger than before.

The central story of Purim is summed up by two words from the Scroll of Esther from which we read during the holiday: Nafoch Hu - It is all upside down!

In that spirit, may the interpersonal distance this topsy-turvy world we inhabit currently demands be turned on its head very, very soon, bringing us closer to each other, more caring of our neighbors, more ready to share the joy and light of life with community.

Brachot! Blessings! And a safe, happy, connected Purim to you all!
#purim2020 #purim