Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Today, at our faculty meeting, I found out that this year, unlike in years past, I have off work for
Purim 2010, by Brian Charles
Purim.  This is extremely exciting news. Long time readers know that one of the things I find frustrating about working at a Jewish school is that, while I get off for a lot of nonsense holidays the rabbis made up, I have to work on several holidays that are central to my practice of Judaism.  Among these, my most favored, my most important, my most sacred is Purim.  Some of you, who are only familiar with rabbinic Judaism, might be thinking "I thought Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement" is the most sacred holy day of Judaism?"  That's a lie the rabbis tell.  If you listen carefully, you will find that's not even the name of the holiday!  The name is "Yom Haki Purim", the "Day Like Purim".

Dancing, as it does, in the liminal space where summer ripens into autumn, Yom K'Purim is a holiday about linearity, about causality,  reason, justice.  Yom K'Purim is the day which balances gevorah (power) and chesed (compassion).  Ishtar descends into her sister, Ereshkigal's realm.  Marduk, the King of the Earth, weeps for her, and withholds his blessing on the fields.  G-d passes judgement, and we beg for his decree to be averted.

Exactly half a year later, as the wheel swings back and the Lady of Bones gives birth to Spring,  Purim  completes the cycle.  Ishtar, having completed her underworld initiation, returns to the Human World, makes the Great Rite with Marduk, and returns fertility, fecundity, and pleasure to the world.  At Purim, having passed through winter, through the illusion of death from which all things are reborn, having, like Ishtar, Ascended in Power, we know that the world is far stranger, far wilder, far more beautiful and chaotic than the rabbis imagine.  If Yom K'Purim means "Day Like Purim", what does "Purim" mean?  "Purim" are divinatory dice.  At Purim, we acknowledge the truth monotheism tries so hard to hide, that G-d DOES, in fact, play dice with the universe.  At Purim, we remember the oldest ways; that seasons turn and .  At Purim, we become so drunk that we cannot tell the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is Haman" because, truly, the Holy One knows not the difference either!

I am so happy to have my holy day back.