Yes, Purim starts tonight. This year, I actually made hamantaschen – cherry and blueberry. And I bought a package of apricot and raspberry as a back-up. Read the book of Esther. Lots of drama and amusement and maybe PG-13 rated in a good translation. Whether it actually happened or is an ancient historical novel doesn’t matter, since the basic story is real: Jewish peril, heroism, deliverance. And it’s not that long. Chanting the whole thing aloud with many interruptions for making noise at Haman’s name takes about 45 minutes, and we’re supposed to hear every word, so I don’t hold with watered down, abbreviated readings. That smacks of pandering, in my opinion. Oh, and you’re supposed to get drunk, enough that you can’t distinguish villain Haman from hero Mordechai; I don’t think you have to get so drunk as to be unable to distinguish Haman from Esther, though, and you’ll need a designated driver in any case.
When I was a child, this was treated like a child’s holiday, and we generally dressed up like characters from the book of Esther (By the way, isn’t it a nice coincidence that Purim is usually in March, which is Women’s History Month?). Nowadays, any costumes are fine and even adults often dress up. I saw one dressed as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest). His breastplate had twelve little strips of paper in place of the twelve gemstones. I looked more closely and saw that they were Chinese fortune cookie fortunes.
Purim sameach (Happy Purim),
(Passed along to me. Thanks, Stanley!)
No Esther, No Purim
Published March 05, 2012, issue of March 09, 2012.
One of the latest skirmishes in Israel’s gender battles is over an advertisement from a popular store in Beit Shemesh in which the faces of girls modeling Purim costumes were blurred. Turns out that a Haredi newspaper blotted out the faces without the store’s knowledge, “out of respect to our readers,” was the official line. [IGP Comment: ARRGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]
It got us thinking: How can anyone possibly erase women from the Purim story? The deliverance of the Jews from the evil hands of Haman could not have happened without the courage and consistency of Esther — and without the chutzpah of Vashti, who paved the way for Esther’s ascension to the throne.
Note to the Haredim: You can try to take Purim away from women, but you can’t expunge women from this holiday. It’s called the Book of Esther, after all. Purim sameach.
| Top Ten Ways the Story of Purim Would be Different if it Occurred Today.
10. Vashti relieved that king calls her to dance naked and not one of his sleazy girlfriends
9. Story ends with Mordechai and Haman signing historic peace treaty on White House lawn
8. Bigtan and Teresh caught trying to return rental van used in assassination attempt
7. Haman’s children finally killed by lethal injection after lengthy appeals process
6. Jews required to drink ’till they no longer know the difference between Pat Buchanan and Al Sharpton
5. In addition to Mishloach Manot and Matanot L’Evyonim, Megillah institutes No Alternate-Side-Of-The-Street Parking
4. Like Esther might ever agree to marry one of those slimy Ayatollahs
3. Instead of calling national fast day, Rabbis hold ill-attended rally in front of Persian embassy
2. Haman forced to share funds with rival extremist group, Hezbollah
1. Rav Shach orders followers not to fight Haman, ’cause having the Jewish community saved by a woman just isn’t halachikly acceptable
Once a year, The Forward becomes:
Segregated Torah: Finally, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can provide a scripture free of carnal distractions.
Driven by a rising number of complaints about immodesty in public spaces, a number of B’nai Brak firms have launched competing lines of mechitzahs [partitions to separate men and women]. “People want to feel as safe from immodesty outside of shul as they do inside,” said Shalom Shalomov of SegReg8. “Our micro mechitzahs can be used at the beach, in movie theaters, even in cars and taxis.”
The micro mechitzah is made of lightweight retractable rods and reinforced parachute material that can either hang down in front of the wearer’s eyes, or be stored invisibly in a shtreimel when the coast is clear. Shalomov said that concerns about wearers running into things were overstated. “You’re fine, as long as you shuffle slowly and hold your arms out in front of you.”
Their competitor Div-Ide Inc is taking a different approach with its Minichitza, which can be quickly erected for use on secular buses and other ground transportation and, according to the company, “easily folds down to fit in a Tallis bag.” The larger Mechitza Grande is suitable for beaches, parks, sporting occasions and stadium concerts, and folds down umbrella-style to about the size of a lulav. The company says a prototype mechitzah large enough to encircle Tel Aviv will be ready by summer. The mechitzas from both companies come in three shades of black, with optional fur, and are certified kosher by the OU’s new “Hecksher Anything” division.
Meanwhile, the Rashei Yeshiva at Mitachet Hashamayim Yeshiva in Beit Shemesh have completed the Torah Mechitza project that has finally separated the four Mothers of Israel from the three Fathers. “No longer will serious Torah study be disrupted by the distracting and immodest appearance of women in the Torah,” said Izzie Klutznick, the project manager. “At last the Patriarchs will be able to concentrate on setting a good example to their descendants rather than lying to God, trying to kill their children, stealing their siblings’ patrimony and pretending that their wives were their sisters.”
My proposal: a nanomechitzah for synagogue use, consisting of a set of blinders, with the proviso that the wearer not sit behind any women. IGP
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From The Jewish Weak Purim spoof, 2010:
Friday, February 26, 2010 Afact-based action drama about the perils of in-flight davening has completed initial filming and is expected to be released in time for a Rosh Hashanah release.
“We had to finish this week,” said director Shelly Rosh. “We had a binding contract.”
Completing the project was difficult as the crew encountered budget problems. “We were really strapped for cash,” said Rosh.
Loosely based on the incident in January in which a US Airways plane was diverted to Philadelphia after a passenger donned tefillin in mid-air, prompting fears that he was a terrorist, Rosh said he took some liberties with the plot to make it more thrilling.
“Initially we thought being forced to go Philadelphia was pretty scary in itself,” said Rosh.
“But we wanted a story that would leave the audience praying for more.”
In the film, which stars Phil Actory and Megan Box, passengers aboard an El Al flight find it has been hijacked by Chabad emissaries who will not allow it to land until all male passengers put on tefillin.
(The PG rated film includes verbal jousting, some moaning during prayers and full frontal crudity.)
Actory plays Dovid Flint, a Reform Jew who leads a revolt against the ritual, and Alan Dershowitz plays himself as the civil rights lawyer who argues that religious coercion is a crime, but not as bad as torture, like being forced to watch a Sandra Bullock movie while in flight.
Ms. Box plays a spunky flight attendant who insists on putting tefillin herself, noting that according to legend, King Solomon’s daughter wore tefilln.
“Times have changed,” a Chabadnik tells her.
In the film’s climax, the plane makes an emergency landing at a store-wide sale at Saks Fifth Avenue and the passengers speed down the emergency chutes into the ladies apparel and giftware sections. (Some violence; not recommended for the squeamish.)
Rosh said that production of the film would be complete later this week. “We’re winding down now,” he said.