Monday, March 6, 2017

Discovering the Unknown- Experiencing simchas Purim

Purim is approaching and I’m in a panic. I know there’s something that I want to experience on that day, but I don’t know exactly what it is. As is my wont, I have been looking for the answer in books, but it hard to find something when you are not sure what it is that you are searching for.

I’m convinced that Purim has something very deep within it, that the comparisons between Purim and Yom Kippur have some essential message which can’t be expressed in a clever vort. I’m sure that there is some idea found in a sefer which is the key to the locked door which stands in my way. For nearly a month, I’ve been going through various sefarim searching for the conceptual understanding which will lead to a day of deep meaning.

Of course, it is possible that my way of searching is part of the problem. Perhaps I am using books as a way of not having to do the hard work myself, or maybe sefarim are a cheap substitute for that which I really seek. I read Rav Hutner’s words as I study his Pachad Yitzchak and I realize that what I really want is to be sitting at his Purim seudah, as his words are interspersed within singing, eating, and drinking. I read the words of the holy Piaseczna Rebbe as he looks deep within himself in the Warsaw Ghetto trying to give his fellow sufferers something to hold onto, and I wonder what it could have been like to have been his chassid before the war. In my mind’s eye, I picture Rav Kook sitting around a small table in his original yeshiva with his beloved disciples. I see their radiant smiles, but I cannot hear their words. Here and there, I’ve had enjoyable seudos with friends, but I know there’s something more that I want for myself and for my family.

In some ways, I’m a spiritual orphan. I don’t have memories of family Purim seudos with divrei Torah and joyous singing from which I can draw. There is no yeshiva which helped mold me, where I might have witnessed my rosh yeshiva or rebbe at their seudah, so that I might know what to do at mine. Instead, I look at words on a page and try to turn the two-dimensional letters into a three-dimensional image, but my mind fails me. I grasp ideas, concepts, divrei Torah begin to coalesce in my mind, but none of these are thing itself for which I am searching.

As I write these words, it begins to occur to me that my problem is that I seek an idea that I can grasp in my mind. Some concept, external to me which I can fully know and possess. Realizing this, I begin to grasp the idea of drinking to reach the state of Ad D’Lo Yada. The simcha of Purim is not outside of me in a book. Its secrets can’t be truly grasped by watching others, even when they are spiritual giants. Just as teshuva can be studied in books, but true teshuva can only be found by looking deep within, the spiritual treasures of Purim can only be discovered by letting go of finding something external, and discovering true simcha which already lies within ourselves.