A Different Purim Story

As this past week was Purim I wanted to share one of my favorite Purim stories from the Talmud. This is the story as told from myjewishlearning.com:
"Rabbah and R. Zeira got together for Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira's throat (literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira's behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, "Would you like to have Purim Seudah with me again this year?" R. Zeira replied, "One cannot count on a miracle every time." (Megillah 7b)

While there are many ways to take this story, I would like to focus on the last line "One cannot count on miracles every time". In this story our tradition is trying to teach us that we have an active role to play in our own fates. It tells us the way to be in the world is to realize that you have agency.

In psychology there is a term called locus of control. Roughly explained this means where does control lie. There are two ways an individual perceives their locus of control. The locus can either be internal or external. We can view the world as acting on us, or as us having the ability to act on the world. The above story tells us we should live in the latter.

I had a college professor who said, "Luck is merely being prepared for the opportunity". This story is not just teaching us that we should not depend on miracles in our lives. The key here, in this story, is that if we take control of our lives and our actions we will not have to depend on miracles.


Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Micah