Purim, what a wonderful festival, we eat, drink and make merry. But why do we spend so long on the services?
It is not simply a longer service than usual, there is in fact a regular service. The extra time is spent on the megilla reading. We spend between half an hour to an hour, in both the night and the morning over reading the megilla. Why do we need to spend so long over a historical overview of the festival, something that we don’t do on any other festival?
The only way of understanding this is by digging into the roots of the Purim festival, understanding where it comes from and what we are supposed to be doing on Purim.
Believe it or not, Purim is not simply about physical merriment! There is a deep spiritual side to this seemingly solely physical day. If we don’t just read the megilla, but take some time out on this busy day to actually read the megilla in a language we understand, we would see not only how fascinating the story is, but with a little thought, how it is so full of coincidences that just so happen to fall into place in perfect timing to make such an unbelievable story.
Anyone who sees Purim as simply a fun merry day, is unfortunately missing the most exciting past of the day. Compare two people who show us at the bar. They both order the same drinks, they both get drunk. They both do the same merry dances. It looks like they are both having as good a time as each other. Afterwards you find out that one of them is celebrating winning the lottery, and the other is drowning his misery of bankruptcy. Which one had a better time? Obviously the one who won the lottery. The same would hold true even if the second one is not miserable, but has no reason to celebrate.
The lengthy reading of the megilla is there for us to remember and appreciate why we are merry on this wonderful day. We are not simply eating drinking and making merry, we are celebrating winning the lottery, the lottery that the evil Haman drew turned against him, and we were the winners. This is truly an event to celebrate. The megilla reading is there as an anchor, reminding us of those long ago events so that we can enjoy the Purim spirit even more.
So on Purim, when sitting through the megilla reading, try to use the time to connect to the joy that Purim gives, the joy of salvation and then we can truly enjoy the physical merriment.