Celebrating Behind Walls: Shushan Purim

Jerusalem_wall

 

Yesterday, the 14th day of the Jewish month of Adar, was Purim in most locations where Jews live. However, today, the 15th day of Adar, in the walled city of Jerusalem, the Jewish community celebrates Purim. Today is known as Shushan Purim. Based upon the Megillah, the Jews in Shushan, the walled city where the Purim story took place, had to fight off those who were trying to destroy them on both the 13th and 14th days of Adar and were only able to rest on the 15th day of the month. This 15th day became a day of “feasting and merrymaking” – Shushan Purim. The Jews who lived outside of the walled city of Shushan were able to end their battle with the enemy on the 13th day of Adar and, thus, began feasting and merrymaking on the 14th day of the month. To this day, we are taught that Jews who live in cities that were walled in ancient times (Jerusalem is technically the only city required to observe Shushan Purim) should observe Purim one day later than those who live in unwalled cities.

This year, given that Spring Break fell during the week of Purim, we decided to embrace the holiday of Shushan Purim and do our “merrymaking” today at Kabbalat Shabbat. We hope that you are able to join us at 7:30PM!

It is not an easy time to celebrate Purim. The attacks in Belgium are heartbreaking and frightening. The Jews of Belgium canceled their Purim celebrations. In its place, the country mourned those who were killed and prayed for those who were injured.

While Shushan Purim makes Jerusalem special in that her residents get their own special day of joy and laughter, the fact that those who live in walled cities must delay their “merrymaking” teaches us a very powerful lesson. The Jews who did not live behind walls, the Jews who intermingled with those who were different from them – they did not have to fight for their lives as long as those who lived behind walls and, thus, separated themselves from the rest of the world. In light of the attacks in Belgium earlier this week, barricading ourselves behind walls and other protective borders seems extremely appealing. However, Shushan Purim is there to remind us that when you live behind a wall, it is easy to be surrounded by the enemy. Living behind a wall might make us feel more secure, but, Shushan Purim suggests that it makes us more vulnerable to those who can cut us off from the rest of the world. We can’t be naïve when it comes to security – however, Shushan Purim is begging us to look at how we interact with the world around us, reminding us that walls can, at times, work against us.

After this long, terrible week, we look forward to celebrating with you later today.

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