Rebecca Masinter

Unity vs. Uniformity: Purim and Shushan Purim

Isn't it strange that the holiday on which we celebrate the Jewish people’s unity is the one holiday we don’t celebrate together all on the same day?  We celebrate every other holiday on the same Hebrew date around the world, but Purim has two different dates, one for Jews outside ancient walled cities, and another one for those living inside them.  How is this disparity a fitting expression of the unity we celebrate that led to our Purim salvation?

I heard a beautiful answer from Mr. Moshe Baine in the name of Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, zatzal, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel Baltimore.  He answered that anyone who is puzzled by this question doesn’t understand what unity is.  Unity is not everyone doing the same thing at the same time.  Unity is when we all appreciate that we each have different roles, different strengths, different mission, and we make room for all of us to reach our united goal of serving Hashem through all our unique paths.  Unity is not conformity.  Purim, the day we celebrate the achdus of the Jewish nation, is especially appropriate to be celebrated on different days.  As long as we are all unified in accepting the validity of two different dates for Purim, then we are unified, even as we celebrate alternative days.

Long after Purim is over, this message remains relevant to us all and especially to mothers. Our children are unique people with different strengths, weaknesses, temperaments, talents, and desires. Our children aren't intended to be clones of ourselves, or identical to each other. Each one is distinct and through those differences we join together as a family. The unity of our family is enhanced not compromised when each child follows his own path in life.  Let’s embrace the uniqueness of each child in our family; for each one’s individuality contributes to the unity of our homes.