Purim and Noise
by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
I find Purim a very noisy festival. During the Megila when the name of Haman is mentioned children (and adults) make a tremendous racket with their graggers and other noise making instruments. I find this very distracting. Wouldn't a quite celebration be more respectful?
Noise is a symbol of tension and conflict. Consider the following example. If you light a fire with flammable material like dry wood or paper, it will burn quietly and calmly. But if you light a candle with wet wicks there will be a loud crackling sound. The wetness of the candle is incompatible with the flame and the struggle between them produces noise.
The human being is a combination of body and soul. The soul is the candle and the body the wick. The body operates, behaves, accomplishes, gives and receives. The soul guides, instills values and provides motivation and inspiration. The body is tangible and physical. The soul is spiritual and like a flame strives to go upwards.
There are times in our lives when we have clarity of vision that creates compatibility between body and soul. The purpose of the partnership is understood, the direction is clear and the soul burns brightly and calmly with a body that shows no resistance. Both body and soul strive for a life of morality and healthy values.
But there are times of tension. These are the times of confusion when the lines between good and evil are blurred, temptation is hard to overcome and an eroded value system invades our minds. It is then that the struggle between body and soul becomes intense and challenging. The soul strives for morality and inspiration, trying to create an awareness of a higher purpose. The body resists by pursuing pleasure, laziness and emptiness. These are times of inner tension and symbolic noise.
But it is specifically in these times of spiritual challenge that one can achieve true happiness. Real joy comes from personal growth which can only result from overcoming challenge. A challenge-free existence creates complacency and lacks depth. But when we turn challenge into an opportunity for growth we become stronger human beings with greater meaning and sense of accomplishment and happiness.
Historically the story of Purim took place in a time of tension and confusion. The name "Esther" means concealment. G-d was hidden and Divine consciousness was absent. Haman successfully drafted legislation to annihilate the Jewish people and morale was at an all time low. But it was specifically then that they discovered a new sense of strength. The Jews responded by reenergizing themselves, reconnecting with their soul and sense of motivation. G-d responded in kind and the miraculous salvation took place resulting in true celebration.
The festival of Purim has a unique message. Even in times of turmoil, tension and spiritual noise, we can light the candle of the soul, discover true meaning and purpose and achieve happiness.
So get the gragger out, make lots of noise and kindle the soul no matter what happens.