Thursday, March 4, 2010

Purim Lessons Learned

So, I'm a little late. Shoot me. Actually, please don't shoot me. I just wanted to share with you guys a few things I learned on Purim. I have even summarized each lesson at the bottom of its paragraph for those who may not have time to savor my scintillating prose.

--In the "duh, how did I miss this?" category, there is a fair amount of intertext between Megillat Esther and the Haftorah we read the Shabbat before Purim (1 Samuel 15), about when Saul is supposed to kill Agag, King of Amalek, but doesn't and is punished with losing his throne. When Samuel, relating a prophecy from God, tells him he will lose his throne, Samuel says that God will give it "to your fellow, who is greater than you," לרעך הטוב ממך. When I heard this in shul on Saturday, I thought, "Wow, that sounds like a familiar turn of phrase." Then, at Megillah reading Motzei Shabbat, I heard that Achashverosh's advisors suggested that he dethrone Vashti for disobedience, "and the king shall give her throne to her fellow woman [yes, an oxymoron, I know, but I couldn't think of another way to translate it], who is better than she," מַלְכוּתָהּ יִתֵּן הַמֶּלֶךְ, לִרְעוּתָהּ הַטּוֹבָה מִמֶּנָּה. So THAT's where I heard it? Also, the Megillah is careful to say, more than once, in chapter 9, that the Jews did not touch the spoils when they killed their enemies. This seems a clear reference to 1 Samuel 15, when Saul is told that he and his troops must kill everyone in Amalek and not take any spoils. But the people, presumably with good intentions, take the best spoils and sacrifice them to God. This is another reason Saul was punished.
Lesson: Pay attention to the Haftorah! It's not just for bathroom breaks.

--I really need to stop drinking on Purim. I virtually never drink, and on Purim I don't drink very much, but I cannot hold my liquor at all. And drinking depresses me. I really need to keep that in mind for next year. I say this every year, but this year I mean it.
Lesson: Alcohol depresses me, but potato chips make me happy. The choice is obvious.

--TH's favorite minyan is even snottier than I thought. This was only TH's second full Megillah reading ever, and did the minyan take 5 minutes to write a handout with the verses that the congregation says before the reader, or with the words to Shoshanat Ya'akov? Did they make any announcements about either? Noooo.
Lesson: Snotty=bad.

--Now that I am not living in GradSchoolTown anymore, my pithy costumes are less appreciated. This year, I revived a favorite costume of mine, Plato's Philosopher King, which consists of me wearing all black, with a crown on my head. Get it? Get it? While this costume was a hit in GradSchoolTown, it kind of bombed in NYC. Most people I was celebrating with this year wore wigs or funny hats.
Lesson: Become less dorky (ha!).

--TH and I are making friends! Yes, finally, some good news as opposed to non-stop complaining. We were invited to a Purim seudah (feast) by a couple we have become friendly with at shul (the Orthodox shul I like in our neighborhood), and we sat with another couple we vaguely knew from shul and had a good conversation. I really miss the community in GradSchoolTown but feel much better about living in NYC now.
Lesson: Look at the good things in life.

But then what kind of blogger would I be?

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