This year, on the second Shabbat after Purim, we read Parshat Parah which details the preparation of the red heifer’s ashes that are used to cleanse the Jewish people of ritual impurity. Contact with death can be a blow to a person’s faith, and so the process of ritual purification is part of a more general rehabilitation of emunah for the living that remain.
Reb Nosson wrote a letter to his son that offers a glimpse into how he felt that these special days should be maximized for spiritual growth:
“Write and let me know whether you were happy on Purim as you should have been. But, no matter what you actually accomplished on that day, the call of the hour is ask G-d to accept our joy on Purim and the mitzvot we fulfilled as if we fulfilled their every detail in the best possible manner. Through this we will merit the purity of the ashes of the red heifer which removes the worst defilement. We will become prepared to offer the Pesach sacrifice and guard against chametz—both the physical leaven on Pesach and the spiritual chametz of negative thoughts and doubts. In this manner we are brought from spiritual death to the fresh vitality of a more holy moment of life.”
Dear G-d, please help me to be joyous always! Accept the joy and mitzvoth that I fulfilled on Purim and give me access to the powerful purity of Parshat Parah. Guard me from chametz—both spiritual and physical—and show me how to really live by holding on to only good thoughts and driving off my negative doubts, hesitations and thoughts.