It has been said that Yom Kippur is a day like Purim implying that Purim is higher. How could that be? Purim is a rabbinical holiday and Yom Kippur comes from the Torah. How can Purim even be compared to the holiness of Yom Kippur?
Everyone knows that Yom Kippur is one of holiest days of the year. Even Jews who are not so observant or connected to Judaism will often observe Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a day of affliction. We fast. We do not wash. We chant the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Compassion. We are in synagogue most of the day. Yom Kippur is a contemplative serious day when we search our souls and humbly ask for forgiveness. We affirm we will be better people in the coming year. What can be holier than that!
On Purim, we have fun. Many people even think of it as a children’s holiday. We dress up in costumes. We feast. We drink more than we normally would. The rabbis have even instructed us to drink alcohol so we do not know the difference between Haman and Mordecai. I happen to know people who take that suggestion literally. Purim is party time. We give gifts to the poor and Shalachmonis, gifts of fruit, wine, and cakes to at least two friends.
After writing my last book, The Secret legacy of Biblical Women, I have a new answer to this question of why Purim is higher than Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur we stand before HaKodesh Borechu, the Divine Masculine. who is transcendent. Ha-Kodesh Borechu, The Holy One Blessed Be He is full of mercy and love but He also is the headquarters for reward and punishment. Purim is a revelation of the Divine Feminine. HaKodesh Borechu is not even mentioned in the megillah we read on Purim.
Of course God is One, only One. There is not a male God and a female God but there are two primary Faces of God that we experience. Ha-Kodesh Borechu, the Holy One Blessed Be He is the Divine Masculine, also called Zer Anpin, the small Face and son in kabbalah) and the Shechinah, the daughter, the malkut, the nukva, is the Divine Feminine. There are also higher Faces of the Divine known as Abba and Ema, but we generally do not interface with them except in extraordinary times.
On Purim, the Shechinah, the Divine Feminine, the immanence of God, is revealed. That is why that heroine of Purim is a beautiful woman who exploits her feminine wiles and becomes the savior of the Jewish people. Purim is all about the Feminine. In the Purim story, there is no heavenly voice from above. Deliverance from the evil decree came in the midst of feasting, drinking and sexual intrigue, so as to reveal to us a most important teaching that God is everywhere and in everything. On Purim, one of the deeper reasons that we wear costumes is to emphasize that life is full of masks, but it is fun because we now see clearly that God is behind everything. There is only God. It helps to wear a costume on Purim to internalize this deep truth. On Purim, good and evil are now seen as merely disguises of the One God. Purim is about what is hidden. God’s name is not even mentioned in Esther’s Megillah. Even Esther’s name means” hidden”.
On first consideration, it would appear that Purim is a much easier holiday to observe. What could be easier than eating, drinking and having fun? Purim does not even have the restrictions associated with holidays derived from the Torah. Yet, with deeper consideration, the proper celebration and honoring of the holiday of Purim may actually be more difficult.
On Yom Kippur everything is structured for a person. We simply show up in synagogue and we are gently taken through a journey of prayer and meditation that culminates with HaShem Hu El’lohkeem. YHVH is El’lohkeem. The Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine are One, One God. What is higher than those last moments of Yom Kippur.
On Purim, we read the megillah, we give gifts to the poor and to friends, but after that, everything is open. The challenge in Purim is to be involved in physical activities such as eating and drinking, and not lose ourselves in them. Purim asks us to eat and drink and live in this physical world in the holiest way still knowing the deeper truths that we could only before perceive in meditation and prayer. To truly live in this consciousness of oneness, a person has to be on an advanced level of holiness.
Another reason that I learned in the writing of the Biblical women book of why HaKodesh Borechu ( God) is not mentioned in the Megillah is that the higher modes of God, known as Abba and Ima, Father and Mother are revealed directly to us on Purim. There was such a powerful arousal from below that it went directly to Ima, the Divine Mother who outpoured Her Love directly to us. This is a teaching from Rabbi Shlomo ELyahiv revealed in Avraham Sutton’s Book on Purim. Miracles occur in those exceptional times when the higher modes of the Divine are revealed directly to us. During these times there is no free choice, but infinite mercy and love pours down upon us irregardless of our merit. We receive directly from the Divine Mother. Ima. The gates for blessing are open on Purim. So in the midst of partying, pray for yourself, pray for the Jewish people, pray for the world.
Purim is higher than Yom Kippur because what we accomplish on Yom Kippur through fasting and intense prayer, we accomplish even more on Purim through drinking, partying and giving gifts to friends and poor people. Purim is a revelation of the Shechinah, that wipes out Amalek ( evil). Joy is actually a powerful spiritual weapon.
In messianic times, it is said that only the holiday of Purim will remain. Happy Purim! Many blessings, Melinda Mindy