Purim: A day of mourning and atonement

(What does it mean that Yom Kippur is a Day like Purim,
In response to this:

Many feelings are stirred up.

I love many aspects of Purim – the giving of gifts is a celebration of generosity and community; the inebriation can be a door to letting go of identity, right/wrong, an opportunity to truly step into others’ shoes and identities, to know others from inside their skin; the modeling of free will and human realization of Esther and Mordecai, the celebration of joy, many more things…

And every year, by the end of the Megillah reading, I am in deep deep pain from the collective ignoring that the Megillah does end with a celebration of the death of 75,000 beings by Jews. I feel exhausted and discouraged by the distinction between killing ” innocents” and killing “enemies.” In fact, in the story before the violent ending, Esther and Moredecai model for me a higher evolution of human capacity to use our free will to achieve freedom.

It seems to me that the resorting to violence, especially on a vast scale of 75,000 people, brings us back to the world where god is absent and animal instincts rule.

I mourn this deeply. As a Jew, I atone for this.

And, mourning now, Erev Purim in Jerusalem, I am brought to my knees, as on Yom Kippur. I cry out for help- how can I use this gift of free will to find new ways of creating safety, security, a world without enemies? This cry is how I can bring God back into the world, a cry for the new consciousness that embraces only love and compassion as a way of transforming our enemies. A cry for all the ways I missed the mark, missed the opportunity to use my God-given Free Will to turn to Love and Compassion and Understanding, to trust the power of these energies, to find empowerment in empathy, rather than in killing and hating.

My ” response” to the Iranian piece would be more along the lines of mourning deeply and publicly each and every instance where the Jewish people resort to violence, whether because of choice, circumstance, or any other reason, without blaming others who are stuck in the same cycle of violence, without shame or condemnation of ourselves because we are stuck in the same cycle of violence. Mourning and atoning by crying out for the will, the creativity, the vulnerability, to take another road.

I recognize this mourning as a yearning for the capacity to take responsibility for my actions honestly, without shame ( toward myself) , blame ( toward others) or fear. Here, I experience Purim to be the model for Yom Kippur , another day of atonement for the ways our free will spills out in harmful ways.

Through this mourning, through my tears, touching my yearning , I find the “Purim Sameach”, a sharing of happiness and celebration of the possibilities of this day.

About the Author
Roberta Wall offers trainings inspired by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent Communication and by the teachings of Mindfulness. She is a lawyer, mediator, trainer, parent, activist, mindfulness practitioner and coach. She shares her time between Israel and the beautiful Hudson River Valley of Upstate New York and travels the world coaching couples, individuals and organizations and facilitating workshops and retreats inspired by Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication (NVC) as developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg and Buddhist teachers Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, and teachers and rabbis from her root Jewish tradition.
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