Now that Purim is over, an interesting question to explore and reflect on is the famous question that is always asked; why do we dress up on Purim?
In retrospect, Purim is a holiday of intrigue and disguise. King Achashverosh (Xerxes) didn’t know that his workers Bigthan and Teresh secretly plotted to kill him. Neither did he take note of the one who saved him; Mordechai.
King Achashverosh didn’t know the true identity of Esther, the people from which she came or her relation to Mordechai till there was no room to hold back for the good of the Jewish people.
King Achashverosh didn’t really understand who Haman truly was and when the tables turned Haman didn’t know that he would be the servant to ride Mordechai in the streets of Shushan with the king’s horse and garments instead of Mordechai bowing down to him.
The king or Esther apparently didn’t know that Haman decided to hang Mordechai and in the end it is Mordechai who inherits his house and Haman and his ten sons who hang on the tree.
In the end, God himself is who orchestrates the events of Purim is also in disguise as his name is never explicitly mentioned in the entire Megilah text.
This explains why the Jewish people would have had the custom to celebrate the festive Purim occasion celebration with a masquerade as the whole story of Purim is about identity and its concealment, secrets intrigue and its necessary revelation at a time of need. The relevancy of this holiday is undeniable to the Jew all throughout history. We are constantly concerned about our true identity in the public eye and resort to concealment.
One of the last mystical discourses given the by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson pointed out that, the Jew, who is responsible to spread the light of goodness in this world is likened to an olive and that this light with which we illuminate the world comes from inside us by virtue of who we really are and ought to be just as oil used for the wick is obtained by exuding its oil for the flame.
We try to hide from time to time. We hide from ourselves, our peers and colleagues at work, community members and sometimes even our family. Most of all we try to hide our identity from those who are culturally different from in fear of attack hatred and non-acceptance. We are told don’t wear the Tzitzit, kippah,or celebrate the Shabbat, they won’t accept you.
Hamans, Hitlers, and other haters will come and go from time to time to test us. Now that Purim is over, let us take off our masks and, again, try to be who we really are; a nation of internal and inherent goodness and godliness given to us only to benefit mankind at large.