Sitting in the darkened theater next to my husband, I watched the school staff ceremoniously draw one envelope after another from the large decorative chest in the middle of the Hippodrome stage and call out a name. The tension in the room was thick. Each student walked to the stage to retrieve his or her envelope and read the long-awaited contents out loud. Finally, after waiting for over an hour, we heard my husband’s name. To the accompaniment of a fast-paced song, my husband and four-year-old son ran on stage to be congratulated and to receive his envelope. He quickly ripped it open and whispered something to my son, who then yelled, “VCU Richmond!” into the microphone. The words reverberated around the room, and my heartbeat quickened as I tried to make sense of what I had heard. The next hour felt surreal. We called and texted our family and close friends to let them know the news: We would be spending the next three years of our lives in Richmond, Virginia!
Our Sages teach us that Purim is an even holier day than Yom Kippur, but this feeling of holiness can be hard to access. Especially for women, who are often very busy with the physical preparations and demands of the day, Purim can be a challenging holiday to relate to on a spiritual level. For that reason, many women find themselves feeling disconnected from the lofty ideals of the day.
These ideals, and the mitzvos of the day, are universal, but the way in which we connect to them must be personalized in order for our Purim to be meaningful. To do this, we need to utilize our own unique personality and strengths when relating to and engaging in the avoda (spiritual work) of Purim. This self-awareness of who we are and what works to connect us to Purim will help us (and those around us!) have a better experience overall and reduce the feelings of stress and burnout that come from pushing ourselves too hard, particularly in areas that don’t come as naturally to our personalities.