Purim and The Search for Yossi

“The more often and earlier a child smokes, drinks and uses marijuana, the likelier that child is to use harder drugs like cocaine and heroin.”

“It’s all about children. A child who gets through age 21 without smoking, using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol is virtually certain never to do so.”

“Teens who smoke cigarettes are 12 times likelier to use marijuana and more than 19 times likelier to use cocaine”.

– Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Chairman and President

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Drinking On Purim – Old Lows or New Highs

Rugby and beer go together. There’s nothing like an ice cold beer after a hard rugby game. It soothes your aching, wounded body. It makes you relax. After a couple of beers you feel strong again, almost ready for another game or some other adventure. That’s the problem with alcohol, it clouds your judgment. It makes you think you are a different person than you really are. Maybe that’s part of its appeal. We can escape our lives and be someone else, even it is only for a while. I used to enjoy a beer or two after a game, but I saw too many rugby players and others, become a little too adventurous for my liking, to allow myself to get into that situation.

On Purim, we also drink and we also pretend we are someone else. We dress up in costume. But there’s a very important difference. On Purim, we are trying to find out who we really are. We are trying to strip away the external layers which hold us back from getting closer to G-d. That’s why when a true talmid chacham, a Torah scholar, drinks on Purim, what comes out of his mouth is no different than on a regular day. Because who he is internally, is exactly who he is externally.
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Living History

Mordechai and Esther's TombToday I was speaking with a business associate who mentioned that his father was born and raised in Hamadan, Iran also known as Shush or Shushan HaBira–the setting for the Purim drama. Hamadan is located between Teheran and Iran’s western border with Iraq. He mentioned that his father is very proud of his birthplace–Hamadan literally means “place of knowledge” and its inhabitants were generally regarded as very intelligent. Interestingly, Hamadan was the first Iranian province to allow Jews to own property. He also mentioned that Esther and Mordechai are the most popular names for Jews born in Hamadan and he himself has numerous relatives bearing these names.

The ancient wooden tombs of Esther and Mordechai still lay, side by side, today in Hamadan under a simple brick dome. One tomb, draped in shimmering cloths, is labelled “Esther” in English and Hebrew. The other, draped in vibrant colors, reads “Mordechai” in English and Hebrew.

Who Turned Off the Lights?

Today is the first of Adar. As you are likely aware, that marks the beginning of a month of increased simcha (joy). The first of Adar is also the date that Hashem wrought the maka of choshech– the Plague of Darkness — on Egypt.

As Adar begins, we begin our preparation for Purim. (I already began scarfing hamentshen). I’m wondering what the connection is between darkness and simcha/Purim. One thing I can see (pun intended) is that Adar is the month where we see through the darkness of the world and perceive what is really going on. Just like during the makka of choshech, even in a world of darkness, we have the ability to see things clearly. Anyone else care to take a stab at this seemingly contradictory connection?