Your Invincible Summer Within: A Purim Message of Hope

March 26, 2024

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

This profound observation by Albert Camus, a French author and philosopher, captures a universal truth about human resilience and the capacity to find joy despite adversity. And it helps us understand how it is possible to celebrate Purim, a Jewish holiday of merrymaking and joy, in times of hardship.

According to the Book of Esther, Mordecai established the holiday to commemorate the Jewish people’s miraculous escape from a decree of destruction in the ancient Persian Empire:

Celebrated on the 14th and 15th of Adar, Purim marks a shift from a time of sorrow to one of festivity and joy, transforming days of mourning into “feasting and merrymaking.”

But how do we celebrate Purim during times marked by contemporary grief and ongoing threats? How does one find space for feasting and merrymaking at a time of conflict and loss?

The story of Yehonatan Luber, who lost his life while fighting in Gaza, can help shed light on this dilemma. Yehonatan was killed in December 2023, and his wife gave birth to their son just a couple of months later. Hagai Luber, Yehonatan’s father, experienced a profound mix of emotions with the birth of Yehonatan’s son: the deep sorrow for his son’s death and the unbridled joy at his grandson’s arrival. He spoke of a heart divided into two chambers: one filled with the pain of loss and the other brimming with pure joy. But he also said that the unmitigated loss of his son did not diminish the complete joy he felt over the birth of his grandson. He has space to feel both unconditionally at the same time.

Rabbi Aharon Egeltal suggests that Hagai’s reflections provide a profound insight into celebrating Purim during challenging times. Just as Yehonatan Luber’s father was able to feel both profound grief and genuine happiness at the same time, we, too, can hold our sorrow in one hand and the joy of Purim in the other.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed provides another layer of understanding, suggesting that Purim’s joy stems from recognizing the good in all of the past year’s events. As the last month of the Hebrew calendar, Adar prompts us to look back and see every occurrence, even the challenging ones, as part of a larger, positive narrative. This perspective is deeply rooted in the Purim story, where Haman’s plot against the Jews led to their significant victory, highlighting how adversities can culminate in triumph.

The real joy of Purim, then, lies in rising above our immediate challenges and finding a deeper meaning in the complexities of life. This perspective does not negate the reality of pain, but elevates us to a state of clarity and truth, revealing that light can be found even in darkness and that goodness and holiness will ultimately prevail. Purim is not about denying the struggles we face but rising above them, and acknowledging that there is hope despite adversity. It reminds us that, even in our darkest times, there is an “invincible summer” capable of overcoming the winter’s cold.

Purim thus serves as a powerful reminder that joy is not confined to moments of happiness alone; it is also crucial during difficult times. It encourages us to find our “invincible summer,” our resilience and faith that everything, even in the bleakest circumstances, is part of a greater good leading us towards redemption and joy. This celebration invites us to discover the unyielding strength within ourselves and our community, no matter what challenges we may face.

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Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

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