This week the Torah reading is the only weekly reading in all Five Books of Moses where (after Moses’ birth) his name does not appear at all in the week’s entire reading! Ironically, it is also the Torah reading where Moses hands us one of the most beautiful Mitzvahs – the commandment to light the Menorah and bring light into the world. How do we reconcile the “disappearance” of the man whose gift of Torah leadership is a source of so much inspiration to Jews, with his command that we all carry that inspiration forward to the world around us?
The answer is in this week’s Jewish calendar.
Tuesday is the 14th of Adar I, one of the most obscure Jewish holidays, also known as “The Little Purim”. In a Jewish leap year, we have not only an extra day in the year but an entire extra month. The month of Adar – the month of Purim – is split into 2 months, Adar I and Adar II. The festival of Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar II, and the 14th of Adar I is marked as “The Little Purim”.
How do we celebrate “The Little Purim”? Code of Law for Jewish Life gives us a few short lines describing some minor festive elements that we incorporate into the day, and then concludes the section of Laws for the Festive Holidays – thus concluding the entire “Code of Law for Jewish Life” – with this simple quote from Proverbs 15:15: “he who has a cheerful heart always has a feast”. The implication is very clear. Holidays are not just calendar-entries that provide us with some joy, festivity, and inspiration; some of them in a major way, some of them in a minor way, like the Little Purim. No! Holidays are a frame of mind! Do not rely on anything other than yourself – not even a special day – to help you escape the mundane drudgery of everyday life. Rather, you must recognize that the ability to illuminate the world around you and the capacity to bring joy and festivity into life, exists right in your very heart and in your very soul – “he who has a cheerful heart always has a feast”.
That is precisely why Moshe “disappears” in this week’s reading about our obligation to light the Menorah. He doesn’t want us to rely only on the inspiration we derive from his illuminating example as a leader; he wants us to look inside ourselves and recognize our own ability and capacity to illuminate the world around us.
Never underestimate your ability to make a real difference in brightening the lives of people around you and bringing joy into the world.
May you have a Bright and Happy Purim Katan. Every Day.