RABBI LEIKEN'S COMMENTS FROM LAST NIGHT
I know tonight has been all about laughing and having fun – and making fun of Lance.
But I think we would miss an opportunity tonight, would we not recognize that on the Jewish calendar, tonight marks a full year since we have been together as a community in one space.
It was right after Purim last year that our leadership made the decision to close our building. And it was shortly after that moment when the rest of the world was closed.
This past year has been unlike any other in all of our imaginations. None of us could have foretold last March that we would spend an entire year away from one another. None of could have foretold that we would lose 500,000 people in our country alone – nearing the number of total fatalities in both World Wars combined. None of could have foretold that our kids would be in school at home, that our parents and grandparents would be alone in nursing homes and hospitals, none of us could have foretold what happened this past year.
This has been a year of chaos – it has been a year where many of us have felt void and helpless.
But also, it has been a year in which we have come to appreciate what we too often take for granted.
The ability to be together—the ability to sing together, to socialize in one another’s homes—the ability to hug one another and hold each other’s hands – this year, we’ve come to understand how important real and meaningful friendships are – when people are there for you and you are there for them with no agenda at all– just to support one another and care for one another. We have all spent this past year considering what and who really matters.
The message of Purim is critical in these times.
Purim tells us that although the world often feels full of chaos and randomness and disappointment, the truth is that underlying everything, there is meaning.
It is just that we do too little to open our eyes to recognize it. We fall asleep and we spend our lives chasing things that ultimately do not matter, instead of embracing that which is all around us, but so forgotten.
There will be a world that we will come back to in the coming months, one that will begin to look like the world we left last March. We will be spending more time in physical proximity together, we will see restaurants and stores that begin to open up, our synagogue will eventually have congregants back, and life will begin to appear like normal.
But—truth is—we will never go back to that old world—for during that time, we had yet to understand what matters most—we had yet to appreciate the aspects of our lives and the people in our lives who matter most—
Purim teaches us to recognize God or meaning or whatever you fashion God to be in a world that seems chaotic, random and pointless. Upon that recognition, Purim teaches us to live our lives differently. To live with more dedication to all that matters.
This Purim, we mark one year in which our world was changed forever—and we note that we have been changed as well –
I wish you and your family a Chag Purim Sameach. A Happy Purim!