Purim Torah


Purim Torah

2008-04-25

by Shmuly Yanlowitz, Uri L’Tzedek co-director

 

The Rabbis teach us that Megillah replaces Hallel on Purim. Whereas normally
Hallel is our expression of simchah (joy) and hodaah (thanks), on Purim we have an
essentially unique articulation of that religious experience. Most hold (excluding the
Meiri) that if a Megillah is not available to be read on Purim that Hallel does not replace
the Megillah reading. While Kriat Megillah may replace the normal mitzvah of saying
Hallel, Hallel may not replace Megillah when it cannot be fulfilled. Why is that?
It seems that Purim requires a fundamentally different type of expression of joy
and thanks. Rather than the festive song of Hallel, we are to engage in the storytelling of
Megillah. We are asked to hear the narrative of others. It is a time to listen and share
rather than a time to sing.
When we deliver our matanot l’evyonim (Purim gifts to the poor) and the shalach
manot (gifts to friends), we do not just drop them on the doorstep hoping it benefits the
other. Rather we encounter the other, we hear them, and we engage their narrative and
identity.
It is our conviction at Uri L’Tzedek that chesed and justice are never just about
handouts but rather about partnerships and relationships. This Purim, members
of Uri L’Tzedek who are building relationships, who are transcending our traditional
borders, and who are seeking justice can celebrate that we daily bear the message of the
Megillah: to hear the narrative of others and to respond to their needs. This year, as we
collectively grow in our scope and scale of being metaken haolam b’malchut Shakkai
(fixing the world through G-d), may we bring out not only our songs but also others’
stories and narratives granting them the dignity of being heard