Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Purim - better late than never

"But when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows." Esther 9:25

That’s what happens to bad Amalekites….
The Jews speak of a situation being described as A Purim Story It means a mad, disconnected series of events that do not seem to make sense, but in the end, all seems to work out just fine.
Purim is an ancient story of court intrigue, deception, miscommunication, drunken parties, assassination plots, a foolish king, a delinquent queen, villains, a strong hero and one beautiful heroine. A bit like a Middle Eastern Macbeth. Except for the happy ending.
For one little holiday, Purim’s 24 – hour carnival – like shenanigans certainly has it all. Given that the story involves the selection of a new queen after Vashti’s petulant non-appearance, we might suppose it to be the forerunner of the beauty contest. Purim is an occasion on which a bit of bad behaviour is permitted even within the walls of the synagogue itself. For example, during the public service in many congregations, when the reader of the Megillah mentions Haman , there is hissing, stamping, and rattling, a hangover from the 13th century. Purim is also a time for other unusual goings-on. For example, many congregations will read the prayers in ways that would be considered sacrilegious on any other occasion during the year - for example, singing some prayers to the tune of widely-known songs, like singing the Lord's Prayer to the tune of "Colonel Bogey". Outside the synagogue, Purim pranks dating from the Talmudic period seem commonplace. As early as the fifth century it was a custom to burn Haman in effigy on Purim, rather like on November 5th, when Guy Fawkes gets burned every year for having the temerity to attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

It seems it might even be a mitzvah to consume alcohol on Purim...Oh, dear......

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