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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 3 Apr 2020 06:52 PM and ends Sat 4 Apr 2020 07:50 PM

A word of Purim Torah

ח' אדר ה' אלפים תשע"ב

Parshat Tetzaveh is all about costumes. The High Priest had special garments consisting of six elements that are commonly seen reflected in the covering and ornaments that go on our Sefer Torah/Torah Scroll. Looking forward to the holiday of Purim, this is a celebration that focuses on costumes and pretences of people who are later uncovered. Esther had to hide her being Jewish; Haman was pretending to be a fair leader. Going back to the Torah, the Kohen Gadol had to be of good character. He had to do more than wear the clothes. In addition to the robes, the breastplate, the gem stones, the crown and the bells, he had a rope tied to him when he entered the Holiest part of the Temple, where the Ark was, in order to utter the ineffable name of God only once a year, petitioning God for forgiveness on the Day of Atonement. In the wings there was a stand-in, understudy priest appointed so that in case...wait for this- the Kohen was found unworthy by God and was killed on the spot for being a fraud (only God would know), the people retrieved him out of the Holy of Holies by that cord because no one could go in there to get him out! On a daily basis, we deal with the outer, superficial but important appraisal of the outside world, where what counts is how things look. We can misrepresent ourselves quite well and pass ourselves off, even pretend to ourselves to be the real deal.

We have a short prayer that I encourage you to read from any Siddur/ Daily Prayerbook but I will give you the reference in the Artscroll Siddur that we regularly use in Shule: English side pp 27, 29. These pages are about facing ourselves and stripping away our pride and external façade for a moment, realising we are not as integrated and consistent at being the people we purport to be as we want to think we are.

Debbie Golvan and I were just talking about how some outwardly religious people think merely because they look the part in terms of being frum (pious) that this is going to get and keep the respect and esteem of others. In fact, people who work hard to maintain this act and convince themselves that they have gotten high up on any moral or spiritual ladder will be cut down to size when the truth is revealed which will definitely happen. They also have a hard time sleeping and food doesn't taste as good to them as to honest people. These people seek more and more approval because their guilt is looming larger and larger. When that time comes, the people who pretended (usually these are people who put others down because the only thing to do with status is to make sure everyone is aware of who has it and who hasn't got it) these people will not just crash and burn. They will bring odium to religion and that is all that people will talk about: how frum people are hypocrites. Keep in mind that anyone who does a religious act for status does a sin, maybe cancelling out the Mitzvah they managed to accomplish in the process. People who are really trying to be faithful to God's expectations of them and to their own expectations are not keeping a score card. These two concepts are from different worlds and together they are worse than any type of vanity! We have to recognise that our only motivation in doing justice and kindness and any religious deed is carrying out God's plan for a better world, for the enjoyment of all and for the glory of only God, not of any person. My father (anytime I would complain) would say to me, "You got the break when you got the job!" We are put here to make a difference and every morning we should be honest with ourselves at least and admit that we have so many opportunities for real growth and giving. We let ourselves off lightly and do mostly things that we can show off or exaggerate. We are also not appreciative of the real things that others do for us as a natural outgrowth of their love for us. This Purim, we can dress up as anything we like but underneath work on being just ourselves.


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