Purim Masks… And the Flip of a Coin
The festival of Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, this year – March 12th. [Actually, BI-TWT will have three opportunities to celebrate Purim – find details in the Bulletin.] We will read the book of Esther and tell the tale of palace intrigue, a buffoon of a king, his evil right-hand-man, the leader of the Jewish community, and his beautiful niece/cousin who becomes the king’s wife and ultimately saves her people from destruction. We blot out the name of … you-know-who … with merry noise and celebrate Mordechai and Esther with cheers. And dress in costume, as part of the celebration.
The Purim costumes and masks we wear echo the masks in the Purim story itself. And before the end of the story, Esther unmasks three people. She unmasks herself as a Jew; she unmasks Haman as the dastardly villain that he is; and she unmasks the king, who callously and greedily agreed to allow Haman to destroy “a people” so the king could get their property. And because the king’s decree cannot be overturned, another decree is issued so that the Jews can defend themselves, and they do – eagerly falling on their enemies.
It was told that Esther and Mordechai issue double-sided coins in honor of Purim: one version has Mordechai’s image on one side and Esther’s image on the other; another version has one side with an image of sackcloth and ashes, and the other side with a crown – one side with a sign of grief, and the other side with a sign of triumph. The coin shows us the two faces in every person and circumstance.
The story of Purim reminds us how things can change… sometimes with the flip of a coin… most times with courage and action.
With wishes for a Chag Purim Sameyach – A joyous festival of Purim,
Rabbi Enid C. Lader