Time to take the mask off

On Purim, it is always interesting to ponder the famous question of how the holiday became a Masquerade party. Why is it customary to dress up and disguise ourselves on Purim?

In truth, 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 until Esther revealed her identity to protect the Jewish people.

King Achashverosh didn’t understand what Haman was up to. Haman didn’t know that he would be the chauffeur for Mordechai wearing the king’s horse and garments instead of Mordechai. 

The king or Esther didn’t know that Haman decided to hang Mordechai, and in the end, it is Mordechai who inherits his house while Haman along with his ten sons were hung on the gallows instead.

Even God himself, who orchestrates the events of Purim, is also in disguise as his name is never explicitly mentioned in the entire Megillah text.

This explains why the Jewish people would have the custom to celebrate Purim with a masquerade, as the whole story of Purim is about concealment and its necessary revelation at a time of need. The relevancy of this holiday is undeniable to the Jew at all times throughout history. We are constantly concerned about our true identity in the public eye and resort to concealment.

As Jews, we try to hide from time to time. We hide from ourselves, our peers and colleagues at work, community members and sometimes even our own family. Most of all, we try to hide our identity from those who are culturally different from us in fear of attack hatred and non-acceptance. Freinds and peers often advise us not to wear Tzitzit, Kippah, or celebrate Shabbat, because we may not be accepted.

As we pass the holiday of Purim this year, let us take off our masks to reveal who we really are- a nation of goodness and Godliness and a lighthouse for all of mankind.

About the Author
Rabbi Gershom Francis. A Doctoral Student of Clinical Psychology and an influential Judaic Studies instructor for over a decade. Over the years Rabbi Francis has become known for his profound knowledge of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology.
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