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Purim even when we disagree

I’ve seen many posts in this group with people struggling to deal with family members or synagogues or communities when when those family members and synagogue and communities hold such different opinions about what is right and what is wrong or even about the reality in the world around us. How can I celebrate a holiday with Uncle Jim who is a flag waving Zionist and how can I have Passover seder with cousin Beth who runs a JVP chapter and how can I work at a synagogue that collects money for cause X or cause Y….

My father shared a thought with me last year that stuck with me and I feel it’s important to share in this community.

In the Purim story, Haman uses the phrase מפוזר ומפורד (spread out and separated) as a derogatory when describing the Jewish people to the king. In the story, not only are the Jews spread out across different locations but they are also clearly belonging to very different communities and dealing with their Jewish heritage very differently. This was the first time that Jews were dealing with exile. There were Jews who were clinging to the traditions and they were Jews who were the wholeheartedly throwing themselves into Persian culture. Within themselves, Jews were spread out and separated. The story, whether real or a fantasy, also offers a solution. Esther tells Mordecai, לך כנוס את כל היהודים (go and gather together all the Jews). He asks them to come together and to work together and it is from this togetherness that the salvation arises. “Spread out and separated” created a vulnerability that working together was able to fix.

Now that’s very nice and kumbaya and saccharin but, honestly, it doesn’t work outside of a fairy tale.

What allows it to work in our world is an odd legal quirk mentioned at the very end of the story. Jews are told to celebrate Purim on the 14th day of the month everywhere except for the major walled cities where they should celebrate the following day.

This became the tradition and results in an interesting, even diversity aspect of holiday. Today, it is Purim most of the world but in places like Jerusalem, Safad, Lyydia, Jaffa, and a few others, it is a regular day. Tomorrow, it will be Purim in those places and everywhere else a normal day. And this is a built-in structural aspect of the holiday.

So what’s up with that and why did I want to share this here? Perhaps it’s a statement that we don’t have to be the same to be together. We can be together and, at the same time, you be you and I’ll be me.

Happy Purim to everyone!

submitted by /u/sar662
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