Purim is less than a week away. What will your Purim costume be? I was thinking of maybe dressing up as one of the Beatles or perhaps Spiderman or even Harry Potter. I know it just sound so cliché, but my grandchildren expect me to wear something at the Purim Seudah. They will be probably be dressed as Disney heroines, Queens and Princesses. I wore a crown last year and my Hebrew name is Mordechai so I used that outfit but they remember me as Mordechai, the man in the crown with the beard who saved the Jewish people. I cannot repeat a costume, they get disappointed – almost as disappointed as not having Hamentashen, which they usually never finish eating anyway.
I was joking with several friends about the costume dilemma. One friend chimed in that he was going to dress as his wife. “If it works on Purim,” he said “I will use it again so that I will be allowed in to my granddaughter’s siddur party which for some unknown Tzniut reason that they have recently enacted, her school does not allow male relatives to anymore.”
Another person said that his son insists on wearing a military costume and has done so for the last four years. “At the age of nine I think it is just fine. He will outgrow it at some point.” Surely he will!
Another friend, Alan, commented that he would never let his children wear anything but a Jewish themed costume – “either Esther or Mordechai exclusively” is how he put it. He thought that anything else is “Just too modern” and “not right for his children.” Someone reminded us that the Rabbi of our congregation came to Megillah reading one year dressed in a Merlin cape and hat. Alan turned up his nose. He was not impressed.
Someone asked Alan to define exactly what he meant by a Jewish themed Costume. Did it include an IDF uniform with a kippah seruga? Did it include wearing Hassidic garb, like a shtreimel and a kapata? What about Middle Eastern Rabbinic turban and robes? Alan took it all in the manner it was meant, as a light hearted Mishanichnas Adar marbim b’simcha theme. He laughed and nodded assent as he realized that his original statement may have been just a tad too rigid. He did say that he wanted to stick to the idea of Jewish type costumes because he felt that it gave his children the proper focus on the intent of the holiday.
Of course Alan is entitled to that view but it is hard to pin down exactly what the parameters of that specific theme actually are. And while he has his position, others may be even more stringent with theirs – sometimes to an extreme. We have all seen boys in clown costumes and others put on hats with built in peyos and wear shiny black robes all in good humor for the holiday. There are some baseball players and hockey players and a good amount of face paint. Many enjoy costuming in different outfits others see it as a religious requirement with very specific limitations. No matter the holiday is a fun one and should be enjoyed.
Enjoyment sometimes takes a backseat to absurdity. There is one outfit that Lou, another friend, showed me that he refers to as the “rabbi predator costume” that came straight from the pages of a Jewish publications’ magazine. It is certainly in keeping with a Jewish theme – the picture is of a man in a beard and Hassidic clothing and a child being held in front of him wearing typical yeshiva style dress. The magazine calls the costume “Father and Upsheren Boy” and from the picture it looks like the older man is holding the younger one up against him as if he were acting as a frotteur would. In our times any costume with a subject that borders on even the hint of abuse should be frowned on. This is more imperative then the need some have to keep a Jewish theme. Teaching children to protect themselves and to keep a healthy distance from others should be a lesson that does not get put aside. Just like alcohol abuse on Purim should be frowned upon, images that hint, even inadvertently, at too close physical contact are always unacceptable.
So dress up and have fun this Purim just get that man off the child’s back!