Hasidim enjoy life – Is that allowed at this time?

There is war, but it is also Purim. Is it allowed to have fun and celebrate during this time?

By Michael Selutin | | Topics: Orthodox Jews
Jewish children from the Boyan Dynasty march before the Jewish festival of Purim in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem on March 18, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90
Jewish children from the Boyan Dynasty march before the Jewish festival of Purim in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem on March 18, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

Sometimes we see Hasidic (ultra-Orthodox) Jews doing strange things and wonder about them. They seem to live on another planet, or are stuck in a time long past. However, if you turn your perspective around and look at the modern world with its grinning politicians, teenagers who can’t take their eyes off their phones and many other “achievements” of our time, you might understand why these groups choose isolation and concentrate fully on religious life.

At the moment this contrast is particularly clear in Israel, because on the one hand we are in a war that was triggered by a terrible massacre and in which our holy soldiers die almost every day. On the other hand, we are in the Jewish month of Adar, in which the wise men urged us to be especially full of joy. This joy culminates on Purim, which is celebrated on Sunday.

Are Jews in Israel allowed to forget the war for a short time? Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

Finding balance

Rabbi David Yosef, one of the leading Sephardic rabbis, tries to bridge this contrast and find a balance between seriousness and joy. He explained a few days ago:

“We are in a situation where we are at war. A difficult war against our enemies. Every day we receive more bitter news about fallen soldiers. The situation is anything but easy. I think that this year it is very important that everyone celebrates Purim at home and fulfills the commandments of Purim. But when it comes to public celebrations, we have to be very careful not to show joy and dance on the streets. We have to be careful about that.”

Family and friends of Israeli soldier Ido Eli Zrihen attend his funeral at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem on February 25, 2024. He died fighting in the Gaza Strip. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

He added that “the public sees the religious people celebrating on Purim and being happy as if Israel’s pain had not touched them – that doesn’t look good. It is a profaning of the name of God.”

 

The rescue?

Purim is a particularly appropriate holiday for the current situation, because we celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people from genocide by the Persians. Even today the Persians threaten us in the form of Iran and are trying to erase the Jewish people from the map.

Just as we were saved then, we will be saved today, and with such trust in God one can celebrate Purim even in this difficult time. According to traditional Jewish thinking, there is a certain energy in the world during the holidays, and on Purim it is the energy of salvation from imminent threat.

Here’s to speedy salvation. LeChaim! Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90

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One response to “Hasidim enjoy life – Is that allowed at this time?”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    There’s such a strong connection to Purim this year as Iran is the sponsor of the Hamas atrocities. Whereas Haman sought to hook (nun) Israel through Persia, Hamas is being propped (sameck) up by Iran. Yet God is always in the background checking how far an instrument of judgement can go. God is opening up Israel’s perspective on just who its friends are globally. Israel and the church can see which nations pursue the Babylon model and which the kingdom of God. The world is being prepared for Antichrist. God gave his Immanuel sign to a backslidden king (Is 7:14) before Israel went into captivity. Israel and the world get to choose whether to accept this sign and have God dwelling with them or go the way of the world. Esther pleaded for her people and God delivered them. The world chooses to be ignorant of God but Israel and the church are here for such a time as this to follow God’s directions to make him known. Happy Purim.

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