Friday, March 13, 2009

Need a lift?

Welcome to the morning after.

Purim was spectacular, Boruch Hashem, with best-ever crowds at Shul and good spirit all round. Now, we’re in the doldrums that follow the high.

I’m not talking about hangovers or headaches (thankfully), just that dullness that seems to follow wonderful moments. It’s not just that we battle to keep the high, it seems we humans naturally slip after the good times. It’s almost like the higher we climb, the harder we fall.

Maybe that’s why we read this week’s Parsha straight after Purim. It tells us how the Jews slid to our lowest ebb ever just days after experiencing history’s greatest high. Not long after G-d Himself revealed His Torah to us, our spiritual ADD kicked in and we built an idol. We went from hero to zero in record time!

You would expect the Torah to decry this horrible piece of our past, to subtly allude to it in less-than-polite terms. After all, the Golden Calf almost cost us our nationhood and remains the ugliest blight on our history’s landscape.

You probably know that the Torah refers to incidents with the name that would best describe the essence of the event. It should surprise you then to hear that the Torah portion that reports on the faith-lapse of the Jewish nation is called “Ki Sisa”, meaning “when you will lift or elevate”.

Is this Torah sarcasm?

If anything we will read this week of how the Jews FELL. The giving of the Torah was the ultimate lift, but we dropped sharply from unprecedented heights all the way down to rock bottom. Where’s the “lift” in this story?

To be sure, the “high” at Sinai was artificial. We were elevated by G-d, we didn’t elevate ourselves. When you lose inspiration and fall, you earn the opportunity to climb back up. In the portion Moshe rebukes his people, they recognize their spiritual recession and they immediately work to rise again. This time around they lift themselves- maybe not as high, but definitely more meaningfully.

Purim excitement is over, so it is now time to lift ourselves.

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