KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Kfar Maccabiah, March 2015
CHAG PURIM AND ITS COSTUMES
Why do we dress up on Purim?
Purim is a time of celebration. 2400 years ago, the Jewish
people were in danger of total annihilation - for the first
time; instead, the Children of Israel fought for their lives,
defeating completely an army composed by 75,000 troops. Why do
we change our identities - using costumes - to remember and
celebrate such liberation? Three related reasons to the
salvation are been provided:
The Book of Esther -Megillat Esther- that we read on
this festivity, explains: "...the enemies of the Jews
had expected to rule over them, but the fortunes were
altogether reversed, and the Jews did rule over their
enemies" (Esther 9:1).
The victory of Purim transformed
the Jews from victims to victors, and, in memory of this
switch, we change our appearances to celebrate Purim -
dressing up as different characters.
The Ba'al Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of
Chassidism, teaches that there is a direct connection
between the Purim's mitzvah (the precept) of matanot
laevionim (helping the poor people) and the costumes. The
reason for this is simple: the best way to give charity is
secretly, when the identity of the giver and the recipient
are unknown to each other, so as not to embarrass the
recipient of the money; therefore, we dress up in Purim. Nor
the giver neither the recipient can be recognized; there can
not be any embarrassing situation while giving and receiving
Purim's miracle was a "hidden" one. In the book of
Esther there is not a single mention of God's name, as if
everything occurred "by pure chance": By pure chance Esther
was chosen to be queen; Mordechai overheard the conspiracy
against the king Achashverosh; the king was in a receptive
mood when queen Esther came to call; the king slept badly
one night and read in the book of his Chronicles how
Mordechai saved his life; Haman entered just as the king was
thinking of how to reward Mordechai; Harbona, the
chamberlain, broke in at a critical moment to report that
Haman had already erected the gallows to kill Mordechai...
Too many casual things lead not to casualty, but
causality. In memory of this hidden miracle, we "physically
hide ourselves" by dressing up.
In the spirit of our Maccabi Movement, perhaps the most
significantly component of the Book of Esther is that we
did not stand in passivity while being in absolute danger, but
we took the destiny in our hands, fighting for our life and
continuity. We knew we had a shared destiny, and we united as a
people to face the challenges together.
Let this Purim festival bring lots of happiness to our
Movement, and to the whole People of Israel everywhere,
overcoming today's challenges.
With best wishes,
Chag Purim Sameach!
Rabbi Carlos A. Tapiero
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union
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