Purim: Joy in the Midst of Uncertainty
The story of Purim is a classic account of our people's confrontation with brute antisemitism.

Many years ago, SHI Founder Rabbi Prof. David Hartman wrote a lengthy essay about Purim, Purim: Joy in the Midst of Uncertainty, which he distributed to small groups of friends of the Institute. SHI Senior Fellow Noam Zion saved a copy of the article, which has been scanned for digital use as a PDF.

Read David Hartman’s article, ” Purim: Joy in the Midst of Uncertainty .”

From the article’s opening paragraphs:

The story of Purim is a classic account of our people’s confrontation with brute anti-Semitism. Our bodies and not only our spirit were threatened with extinction. Nevertheless, Haman’s genocidal scheme was not realized.

And enjoy these special comments from Rabbi Hartman on Purim, as well:

  • On Purim we make contact with the child’s unselfconscious joy of life. And in making contact with this child-like joy of life…we discover a sensitivity to the needs of others born of the celebration of life. On Purim, the poor experience the responsiveness of a world not dominated exclusively by the exploits of Haman. On Purim, the poor may renew their Messianic hope as a result of their experiencing the outstretched hand of human compassion liberated by the joy of life….Purim signifies the dream that one day we will live in a world in which the passion for life will make us responsive to all human beings and that in place of their cynical demonic yearnings for power, men will accept each other’s differences and affirm their common love of life per se with joy.
  • The celebration of life on Purim as expressed in the temporary suspension of the anxiety caused by the ever-present Hamans of history, the lighthearted humor of “Purim Torah,” the flights of imagination expressed in intellectually “playing” with the authoritative texts of the tradition, the masquerading and consequent [blurring] of the conventional border between appearance and reality – all these features of Purim are joined together with the norm of undiscriminating tzedakah on Purim.


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