Hello and welcome to The Shikhanovich Spiel, a weekly publication from congregation member Alex Shikhanovich. You probably know my father Yuri, Temple Emmanuel of Wakefield’s First Vice President. As a current Reading Memorial High School senior, I can offer a fresh perspective. This digital newsletter will follow a variety of topics including Jewish news, interpretations of the current week’s Torah portion, and a breakdown of Jewish holidays.
The purpose of this publication is to provide an alternative Jewish perspective on world events and Jewish traditions. I hope that it serves as an engaging form of media for you and that it sparks conversations and new thoughts.
This week’s topic is about Purim, which fell on March 16 (14th of Adar). Although this holiday has several thematic takeaways, I’d like to focus on the ideas of festivity and “letting loose” that are closely associated with the holiday. Although there are several Jewish holidays that emphasize joyous and lively celebrations, Purim is a particularly special case. We are told on this holiday to drink “until one cannot tell the difference between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordecai’”(Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 7b) – a direct order of self-indulgence. Although not everyone is obligated to take their celebration to this extent, the core of the idea is incredibly valuable.
Recently I heard one of my peers refer to the last few years and comment that he’s “tired of living through historical events.” We have displayed incredible perseverance through the COVID-19 pandemic and now are forced to do the same as the conflict in Ukraine unfolds. In the wake of these hard times, it is important to find moments that are dedicated to celebration and merriment to help lift us out of sadness and malaise. Purim gives us an opportunity to set aside the pressing matters at hand and temporarily let go of the hardships we’re facing. Just by dedicating time to celebrate, we put ourselves in a better mood. I hope you had a happy Purim. Regardless of the season, the opportunity for joy presents itself every Shabbat.