Purim and Yom Kippur
When you look at the Jewish calendar, you will notice two holidays that seem to be opposites: Purim and Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur climaxes the High Holidays and is the holiest day of the Jewish year. We spend the day in the synagogue immersed in serious prayer and reflection. It is a time for fasting and restraining from earthly pleasures, and concentrating on spiritual matters. The mood is solemn.
Purim, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. We feast and celebrate, eat, drink and make merry. Everything is topsy turvy and we can hardly distinguish between Haman and Mordechai. Young and old sing, party and masquerade, in an outpouring of happiness and joy.
Purim and Yom Kippur are so far apart that it would seem almost sacrilegious to equate the two, or even say them in the same breath.
Yet, the very names of these two holidays closely resemble each other.
The original Biblical spelling of Yom Kippur is actually Yom KIPURIM which make them almost identical. In fact, the Hebrew prefix "Ki" means "as," denoting a similarity and comparison between the two.
How could such opposites as Purim and Yom Kippur be alike? Our loftiest and silliest moments, our highest and lowest levels of the whole year are being linked together!
The equation of Purim and Yom Kippur shows us that Judaism feels that joy and gladness are equally important as serious meditation and penitence. Just as G-d is served in the ways of the spirit, so can He be served with our flesh and body. We do not necessarily become closer to G-d by the rejection of the physical. "Serve G-d with joy!" exclaims the Psalmist. Joy and good humor are as much a part of the Jewish character and tradition as are solemnity and earnestness.
Judaism teaches both feasting and fasting. Each serves a Divine purpose in the right time and place.
This year, this Purim, may we experience the ultimate joy with the coming of Moshiach, NOW!