Purim: It’s all about transcendence of the “self.” When you venture into the unknown, beyond the position of immediate familiarity, breaking free from your personal bubble, ingrained characteristics and self-imposed limitations, you discover the true joy so central to the festival. When you see the desperation of a dark situation and surrender the outcome completely to G-d once you’ve done your part, in firm trust it will all be as it should and He can transform it to brilliant good if He wills, how can we not feel joyful with an Infinite Creator Who’s got our backs and intimately directs our every step?! We’re never alone even when trudging through the depths of life. When you lose yourself in wholly dedicating yourself to others – bringing a smile and uplifting word to the downcast, a celebration and plenty to the bereft – you let down your guard in order to make space to bond with another, dissolve the barriers formed by your egotistic drive-to-survive so you can genuinely care for them. How much more so can we rejoice when we reveal the common Divine thread connecting us all, and act upon it, with increased love, generosity and unity! When it’s no longer about us, we experience the ultimate joy, and from this, our Father in Heaven derives the utmost satisfaction.
We are not often called upon today to sacrifice our life for our faith; that is not the test of our generation. Today, the challenge is to submit our will to a higher Will, higher than life itself but condensed and made practically applicable through Torah and Mitzvot, so we can carry it out in this physical world. We make Hashem’s will as our own. There are times we must override the limits of our own comprehension in order to do so, and sometimes, we might appear to be completely out of our minds. When anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and violence is escalating, what gives a Jew the strength to not succumb to fear but continue wearing his yarmulke as he walks down the open street? When society often rejects the value of commitment to nurturing a family, and abortion-rates are soaring, who would dare to swim against the current and continue to raise many children, even though it requires so much of a person? When a group of peers you look up to or mingle with are taunting and victimizing another girl with unkindness, why would you not join them and instead speak up to defend her, although they might turn on you or think you’re “uncool”? When the most religiously irreverent Jews in our history chose to forego their lives when forced to renounce their faith or suffer the consequences – the infamous “convert or die!” – what motivated their complete turnaround? Again, it comes from a very lofty place: It’s the light of chochmah, wisdom, built into your Divine soul that’s an actual part of G-d above; an inner element that remains forever pure and inseparable from Him; a force of inspiration that often defies reason, and even love of life itself, in order to maintain that connection through firm devotion to Him and His ways. Queen Esther, too, transcended herself: She was prepared to put her life on the line and doubly break the law in order to effectuate salvation as G-d’s representative for her nation.
We are often very rational people, us Jews. We don’t believe in operating on impulse as the norm, but prefer to first carefully think things through; everything we do is permeated with mindfulness and intention. We also analyze a great deal, and you needn’t look further than our Torah literature for proof; it’s classic. Yet, when all is said and done, why do we engage in any of this to begin with? Simply, because it is ratzon Hashem – G-d’s desire, that we live according to His mission for us in this world to transform into an elevated place where He is recognized and felt. For the sake of a real and lasting relationship, with our fellow and with G-d alike, we must negate our individual status in order to join part of a greater whole; and when we do, the joy of that connection is incomparable. So yes, if we love Hashem, love His Torah and love others (the three are incomplete without one another), we might do some ‘crazy’ things! “Joy breaks all barriers,” as the adage goes; elation cannot be contained by mere rigid calculations or cold logic.
When we experience inspiration, being on a high from so potently feeling our innate connection to G-d, our soul and other people; when we soar above what the mere eye sees and revel in that reality… we can’t forget to harness some of its potent Divine energy and bring it back down to earth where it’s truly needed. Commit to translating it into positive action, and generate more light in the world!
Enjoy the classic game of truth or dare – with the Purim theme of going beyond yourself – and play with family or friends as a creative self-discovery challenge! Feel free to copy the ideas below, or refer to as prompts for your own originals. Some of my suggestions for “truths” are wacky and others are deeper; all of them encourage you to honestly open yourself, and maybe even get some laughs. Dares present an opportunity to stretch your personal limitations and take action; if they are not immediately applicable, hold each other to the resolutions and keep the group posted on when you make it happen! Write your “truths” and “dares” on separate cards, and divide into two corresponding piles. Each girl MUST take a turn (rotations work well) selecting either one. Always be kind, supportive and open-minded. Never invalidate or jibe at at her responses. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Shine your inner light, and happy Purim!
#1.) TRUTH: Have you ever danced with a vacuum, broom or mop, or pretended it was a microphone, while using it to clean? DARE: Invite a woman who’s a stranger, or someone you just don’t know very well, to light Shabbos candles or come for a Shabbos meal.
#2.) TRUTH: Do you ever talk about yourself in third-person, or argue with yourself out loud? DARE: Go do fifteen minutes of hisbodedus, communicating with G-d in your own words, although it looks like you’re talking to thin air.
#3.) TRUTH: Was there ever a time when you became so excited about something that your words jumbled and didn’t come out remotely like you intended; if so, what did you mean, and how did it actually sound? DARE: Make a resolution to take on something in Torah and Mitzvos that you’ve never done before, or push yourself to increase beyond what you’ve been comfortably doing in an already-familiar area.
#4.) TRUTH: What was the wackiest dare you ever got charged with to do in a game like this, and acquiesced? DARE: Put on a little performance for which you’d normally be stage-shy, like a song or dance for someone who is down in order to cheer them up; and as a bonus, try to persuade them to join along!
#5.) TRUTH: When and where was the last time your mind was in another place and you walked into a wall or door? DARE: Be kind, thoughtful and friendly to someone who rubs you the wrong way.
#6.) TRUTH: Do you ever wonder who you are going to marry in the future, and do you want to have a big family (G-d willing) even if some people insist it’s absurd? DARE: Let someone go ahead of you in line at the store, even though you were there first; give them a big smile and wish them a good day.
#7.) TRUTH: Would you give up your life for your Judaism, “al Kiddush Hashem” – to sanctify G-d’s name? DARE: Test yourself, by standing up and giving a one-minute dvar Torah starting…now!
#8.) TRUTH: Share a story or personal experience where you did something altruistically – without ulterior motive or expecting something in return for your effort. DARE: Stretch yourself to call someone in need of a lift or listening ear even after you had a busy or tiring day and deserve some rest.
#9.) TRUTH: Did you ever think, “This is insane,” before doing something, but you did it anyway; if so, what was it? DARE: Give more than ten percent of your earnings to tzedakah.
#10.) TRUTH: How crazy or out-there do you really think you are? DARE: Ask a stranger who looks lost if they could use some directions or assistance.
#11.) TRUTH: What is the most powerful joyful experience you’ve ever had, and in your own words, what does it feel like to be ‘on a high’? DARE: Push off your meal for less than an hour more, and study Torah meanwhile.