Susan Barth
Susan Barth
Advocate for Marriage Education in Israel

Purim — the eternal holiday of love

Did you know that Purim is the one holiday that is Eternal?

Among various reasons cited, the one that resonates is the eternal love between Hashem and the Jewish people which the story of Purim symbolizes. Our nation’s survival from the potential threat of annihilation which is displayed in the Purim story without the overt mention of the role of Hashem is riveting.  But the fact that such a dramatic rescue came from the courageous initiative of Queen Esther demonstrates  the love between Jew and Jew which is also a theme of this eternal “love story.”

LOVE PREVAILS

One lesson which can be a takeaway from this Purim is that we can exhibit a continued expression of love between the Jewish people and Hashem with our observance of Purim, despite the fact that the Corona persists. And more importantly, we can exhibit love between Jew and Jew by focusing on what unites us instead of divides us.

And one constant that has emerged has been the importance of the “home” as the base for our ultimate observance. For example, this year is unique in that the traditional meal which is a major factor in the celebration of Purim for those outside of the walled cities has to be abbreviated due to the proximity of the holiday to Shabbat.

That means that our homes have the opportunity to become even more central as sanctuaries in time and place for expressions of harmony and love over during Purim and Shabbat observances. And this places the spotlight on the relationship between spouse and spouse.

MY Parents Unrequited Love

This Shabbat would mark the 76th wedding anniversary of my beloved parents Esir ben Avraham Benjamin and Feigel bat Tuvia Nisan. They were married on Shushan Purim — February 27, 1945, and their love was a textbook story of dedication and commitment.

My parents were the catalyst and in whose memory the nonprofit Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher was created. I mentioned my parents’ role in the opening speech of the First International Conference for Marriage Education in Israel back in 2011.   The conference was the kickoff event for the nonprofit to spur advocates for reducing the divorce rate in Israel and create an environment for happy marriages.

The Model for Marriage

In my opening speech, I credited the role which my parents played in the conference and the nonprofit as follows:

“The model for initiating the promotion of marriage education in Israel was the 52 years of marriage of my parents who showed me by example what the special recipe for a happy marriage is.

The special recipe is a couple who based their marriage on a foundation of mutual respect, trust and open communication, shared goals, love and commitment to each other and family values and appreciation for the gift each one found in the other.”

The actual words are cited in the speech with the following link:

https://youtu.be/kdjXK8NVgy0

My father amplified that message by citing in a personal letter written to me back in 1972 that “Love, attention, and understanding should prevail over everything. And that one spouse cannot be centered on his/her own problems and must show the love and affection that belong to someone else if he/she is really interested.”

This Year Make Love Count in the Purim Spirit

The exciting opportunity that this year presents is that Purim especially in Jerusalem is an unusual three-day celebration. The culmination is the obligatory meal/seuda on Sunday. This celebration provides many opportunities for demonstrations of love and unity between couples first and foremost and encompassing families and by extension to others through the exchange of the customary Mishloach manot the goodies which we exchange with friends and family during the Holiday.

By focusing on the family meals which traverse the next three days — we can all demonstrate to each other and to G-d why Purim should be eternal — What are we waiting for?

About the Author
Susan Barth is founder and director of Israeli non profit Together in Happiness/B'Yachad B'Osher, promoting stronger, healthier marriages impacting Israeli society. A Project Management Professional (PMP) and businesswoman from the US, Susan sponsored and chaired the First International Conference on Marriage Education in Israel (attended by over 360 professionals) in Jerusalem in memory of her parents and launched I-PREP, an innovative marriage education curriculum. On November 8, 2017, Together in Happiness co-hosted with MK Yehudah Glick a historic Knesset seminar promoting government support for pre-marriage education
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