What is Purim? And why will Purim be the only holiday we will celebrate after Moshiach?
Purim is the holiday that commemorates the downfall of enemy Haman, the second most powerful man in Persia, who sought to annihilate the Jewish people. Through Jewish unity and prayer, his decree was overturned. The Jewish people celebrate the holiday of Purim with joy and gladness because of the remembrance of the miracle.
Purim will also be the only holiday we will celebrate after the coming of the Moshiach. Judaism tells us to celebrate our holidays in gladness, but why will Purim be the only holiday we will continue to celebrate in the end of days?
When Moshiach comes, we will continue to experience the joy of Purim. through comradery by our acts of charity and kindness and through our chosen state of happiness and gratitude.
Purim's connection to Positive Psychology is the shared Jewish and scientific acknowledgement that performing acts of kindness and charity and behaving with comradery reduces stress and increases our mental and physical health and happiness. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch teaches us that there are no compromises when it comes to keeping the peace as this is the true means of reaching a state of joy.
Peace and harmony are values to which we should be prepared to subordinate and sacrifice everything--except duty and conscience. Discord and disharmony, on the other hand, bring calamity; they banish every true joy from life.
-Samson Raphael Hirsch from the Wisdom of Mishle
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a Professor at the University of California in Riverside, has focused most of her research on the study of happiness. The study of happiness has intrigued her because people see happiness as an important and meaningful goal in their lives. Happiness can also make for stronger communities, societies and a happier world, in general. Her research focuses on three important questions:
1. What makes people happy?
2. Is happiness good?
3. How can people learn to lead happier lives?
What is interesting to note is that Dr. Lyubomirsky concludes that achieving happiness and wellbeing can only be done through effortful and intentional activities. Comparable to Judaism's positive and negative mitzvoth, some spiritual activities such as practicing gratitude, counting our blessings, practicing forgiveness and mindfulness, and cultivating spirituality and kindness into our lives, while avoiding social comparisons are keys to lasting happiness.
In one such research Lyubomersky et al. (2004) asked people to perform five random acts of kindness a day. They tested to see if this would increase levels of positive emotion. They found that positive emotions do increase when people commit to doing five random acts of kindness a day.
So what is Purim? Purim is a time when we participate in acts of kindness and positive social interactions with our families, friends, and neighbours. These interactions give us increased joy and happiness, and will ultimately lead us to a time when "the redeemed of Hashem will return and come to Zion with glad song, with eternal gladness on their heads. They will attain joy and gladness, and sadness and sighing will flee." (Isaiah 35:10).
Lyubomirsky, S., Tkach, C., & Sheldon, K. M. (2004). Pursuing sustained happiness through random acts of kindness and counting one’s blessings: Tests of two six-week interventions. Unpublished raw data. doi:10.1037/1089-26126.96.36.199