This High Council Women’s Prayer & Meditation Happening on Purim has evolved over a period of about 30 years. It has gone through countless changes and paradigm shifts. The only thing that remains from its early years is the intention behind it: The goal of harnessing the powerful lights available on Purim, that were unlocked by Esther (a woman), and to direct them toward good, healing and mashiach now.
The people that have been advisors, actors and enactors over the years are too numerous to mention. You know who you are and we thank you!! For the past (about) five years the format has stabilized and a group formed that is dedicated to empowering the Purim ritual by rehearsing its practices throughout the year. Our goal is to deepen our connection to these prayer and meditation modalities in order to serve, on Purim, as pole-holders who (behind the scenes), hold the space, ground the lights, and emanate a vibration that induces others to drop in more deeply than they otherwise could.
Our Purim Happening (that evolved into the High Council) started as an adaptation of a Chassidic tradition:
On Purim, the “Shpola Zeide” (a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov) would organize a special game. Certain chassidim, carefully chosen and directed by him, would disguise themselves, one as the “King of Purim,” the others as his princes and counselors. They would sit together in solemn session, in counsel or judgment, discussing weighty matters, all the time making resolutions and decisions. Sometimes the “Zeide” himself took part in the masquerade.
The chassidim say that these games had a powerful effect on the world with repercussions throughout the heavens. They say that these Purim edicts were potent to avert doom or the threat of doom decreed for Israel.
But I could never get comfortable with issuing decrees. Prayer, yes; decrees, no. I just can’t imagine that I would ever know better than HaShem what is the most spiritually productive outcome in this moment. And I just can’t imagine that Hashem would ever choose anything less than the most spiritually productive option. The very definition of Hashem (it seems to me) is that He/She/It will always choose the gentlest way that could possibly be designed to bring about our next step in personal and spiritual development given our current state of consciousness.
Consequently, from my I-center, that last clause, “given our current state of consciousness” is the place to make a difference. I do not believe that insisting on a different outcome without changing the current state of consciousness will ultimately produce a better result. And I also cannot imagine that improving the present state of consciousness will not automatically, yes, generate a positive effect (and also, yes, accelerate the answering of our prayer). And so, that becomes the focus of our Purim ritual, which also happens to be timely since the very essence of Purim is about altering consciousness as evidenced by its highly “unorthodox” obligation of inebriation.
The name, High Council, refers to the entire group of women who gather on Purim to participate in the ritual. Sarah Yehudit Schneider is the formulator of the High Council. The inner circle of dedicated High Counselors who (metaphorically) do the heavy lifting are (in alphabetical order): Rivka Stauber, Meira Raanan, Malka Sima Pais, Yaffa Miller, Nomi Goldberg, Evie Gottleib, Yehudit Friedman, Chaya Sarah Brand-Farkas.
The nusach of the High Council was reviewed by a Rav and received a yashar kokhekh.