I want to share with you a situation I once observed.
Parking in the Old City of Jerusalem is very limited, to say the least! There are a couple of lots in the Jewish quarter reserved for residents only. Non-residents park in any space they can find, as long as it will allow cars to still pass by on the narrow streets. Sidewalks, bus stops, anywhere is fair game! Many people try to get into the resident parking lot, but the guards are very strict. Usually, they give up and go further afield to look for parking.
Now that I have set the stage, I will describe the scene: a certain non-resident was trying in vain to enter the parking lot. While he was arguing with the guard (and blocking the entrance) a resident drove up behind him and, because of the cars already (illegally) parked on both sides of the street, the resident was blocking the road; no one could pass. People started honking and hollering at the permitted vehicle and its driver. His response? I am waiting as an authorized vehicle to enter this lot, the person in front of me and the people parked illegally are blocking me. Don’t yell at me, yell at them!
This presents an interesting dilemma. On one hand, he is the one actually blocking the road, and on the other hand it is not really his fault. If others had adhered to the laws, the road would be clear!
This is one simple illustration of how the perception of cause and effect are not always what they seem.
The same idea is illustrated in the Tanach during the period in which King David had been briefly deposed. The prophet Shimi ben Gera cursed David. When David’s men asked him why the king is not responding, and not punishing Shimi, David answered that Hashem was sending the message to David; Shimi was simply the messenger. This does not mean that Shimi was completely justified in his actions, rather it teaches that David understood that everything, even every offense, is from Hashem (and might not warrant a defensive response).
The Purim story teaches this, among many lessons. The evil Haman makes every effort to eradicate the Jewish people. Our response, of course, is to use every means at our disposal (spiritual, political, and militaristic) to protect and defend ourselves from his threat. While dealing with Haman’s threat, it is also imperative that we recognize the spiritual reality hiding behind the physical, that Hashem is sending us a message through Haman. It is a message that we must take to heart, telling us to reconnect with Hashem and with each other. We emphasize this connection to Hashem in celebrating the holiday of Purim, when we reconnect to each other with the very social mitzvot of Purim: sharing our meals, giving charity to ensure a nice Purim meal for even the poorest Jewish families, and sending gifts of food to our friends and neighbors, thereby enhancing their celebrations.
I would like to extend a personal invitation for you to join us at KBR this Purim Sunday at 5pm for the Wittensteins’ Purim Seudah (festive meal). And if you haven’t yet, please feel free to give your charity — we will be collecting at both night and morning Megillah Reading Services and will send the money to the poor in Israel on your behalf.
May we always merit to truly hear Hashem’s messages in our life, and to take all of them to heart, coming closer to Him and His children through that clarity.
Shabbat Shalom & Purim Sameach!