Purim is a feel good holiday. We are meant to let down our guards and just have a really good time. The costumes are meant to add to the joy of the day. There is even a song where we wish every day could be Purim!
In today’s world, many people take this song literally and their lives are all about feeling good all of the time. This attitude becomes a philosophy of, “If it feels good, it must be right.” It also becomes a justification for all kinds of bad behavior.
An extreme case in point involved a couple having serious marital problems. The husband suspected and confronted his wife about his suspicions of her unfaithfulness. I was consulted after her confession to see if anything could be done to salvage the marriage.
I spoke strongly to the woman and told her that this union with her lover can never become holy. She must disconnect from him completely as her husband was willing to forgive her. She said she could not because he made her feel so happy. The marriage ended in divorce and her children wanted nothing to do with her.
Over and over again, we hear of situations where families tolerate questionable behavior with the rationalization, “But they are so happy. It makes us feel good to see them in such a good state.” This is the justification for same sex relationships as well as intermarriage. This attitude allows for justification of other choices that may be borderline in terms of their being morally right.
This yardstick in measuring one’s life decisions is leading to an overall breakdown of values and morality in society. Without a clearly defined system of right and wrong, people will not learn limits. Instead of teaching children what should or should not be done, they are being taught to “go with their feelings”. Perhaps many deviant lifestyles would not even be tried, if children were told from the start, that such an experiment would be wrong to even try.
The real issue to be examined is whether or not the world is a better place by adopting this “feel good” approach. Does it solidify the sanctity of marriage or does it encourage a spouse to leave the relationship the minute things stop feeling good? Maybe this creates less incentive to try to make the marriage work.
This philosophy can also be the justification for premarital sex, drugs, or alcohol. People want to feel good without having to work too hard. They become selfish and egotistical and no longer get satisfaction from giving of themselves to lighten someone else’s burden.
The emphasis today should be on explaining that the sense of gratification of doing the right thing and disciplining oneself, is far greater than trying to just feel good. Ultimately, this is what separates a human being from an animal. The animal has drives and instincts, and acts as they dictate. The human is supposed to use his intellect and reason things out. He should have the foresight to see the consequences of his actions.
Feeling right about something is only a quick fix and that good feeling doesn’t last. Having real values and long term goals, will elevate a person to contribute positively for the good of society. The Purim story and the ultimate defeat of Haman, came when the people repented and returned to that which was sacred, rather than “feeling good”at some royal feast. Happy Purim!