Ever notice how a lot of ads go something like this:
“The low-calorie dessert with the high-calorie taste!”
“The luxury car at the economy car price!”
“Modest, yet eye-catching!”
What all these have in common is that they claim to have melded two up-until-now opposing qualities.
Don’t we wish?
While the admen just want to make a sale and know that ads like this work, they may not know that the reason they work is because they tap into an essential human spiritual longing.
This is a world of duality, a world of choices – you can either have/do/be this or that, but not both. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. (BTW I only came to understand that adage a few years ago, when I realized that ‘have’ your cake actually means ‘hold onto’ your cake and not as in “I’m going to ‘have’ a piece of cake,” which would not only mean that you could have it and eat it too, but you’d have no choice but to. Anyway…)
We don’t like this. It rubs us the wrong way. Not because we’re selfish necessarily, but because it’s an existential lie.
Duality is an illusion of the created material world. In reality all is one; because God is One and everything we see (and are) exists within His Oneness.
Of course, this is a paradox, i.e. ‘There’s nothing but God, yet here we are.’
And it’s that paradox, which is unresolvable from our limited human perspective and understanding, that is at the root of human ‘existential angst’.
So, if suddenly a dessert, car, or sheitel comes along and said: “Guess what? I’ve bridged that paradox,” wouldn’t you buy in?
But it never really works. The cake’s either in your hand or in your stomach – but not both.
Purim is such a high, amazing day because it’s the one day of the year we’re allowed – commanded – to rebel against the illusion of paradox.
To reach the point of ‘ad d’lo yada’ – until we don’t know the difference between the evil Haman and the saintly Mordechai (Which is the equivalent of not knowing the difference between Hitler ym”sh and the Amshinover Rebbe). Until we transcend the perceived duality.
Even the way we’re told to do it is itself a rebellion of duality. Getting drunk – something that if not an aveira (sin) per se, is certainly not spiritual behavior – on this one day of the year suddenly becomes a mitzvah. (This reach for ‘ad d’lo yada’-duality transcendence is in fact the driving force behind drug usage and many other addictive behaviors, as well as the breakdown of societal mores, but let’s save that discussion for a different time.)
On Purim, for one day a year, we step off the illusory stage of life and say: “I get it; we have to play by these duality rules all year round and there’s a very good reason to do so (also, a discussion for a different time) but for today the masks are coming off and ‘dietetic or fattening’, ‘luxurious or barebones’, ‘modest or flashy’ – ‘righteous or evil’ – ultimately all is One, and all is You.”
Talk about an award-winning ad campaign.