Purim in recent history, 1994-2016
A Chronicle of Calamities and Catastrophes for Gentiles
By Michael Hoffman
Purim is the rabbinic festival of revenge derived from the Book of Esther and then further embroidered and extended by authoritative Talmudic and Kabbalistic traditions which are observed in Orthodox Judaism as a sacred obligation. An online column is insufficient for anything approaching a full explication of Purim. A more extensive study will be found on pp. 823-827 of this writer’s Judaism Discovered.
Purim is celebrated as a festival commemorating revenge upon non-Jews. Pious Judaic believers dress in various grotesque, Halloween-type of regalia; much of it reminiscent of the reversals common to the medieval feast of fools, whereby persons of low station masqueraded as aristocrats and aristocrats as peasants; villains as saints and alleged holy people as demons. Consequently, on Purim in New York this writer has witnessed Israeli-Americans dressed as Arab suicide bombers complete with ersatz bomb belts, and rabbis attired as women, gorillas and clowns.
There are deeper meanings attached to Purim than reveling in vengeance against one’s enemies, real or imagined. These are largely outside of our purview here, except to note that Purim entails a perverse obligation for the Judaic male to become intoxicated. He is to become so drunk on Purim that he can’t discern the difference between Mordechai (the Judaic hero of the Book of Esther) and Haman (the Hitler-like villain of the book). In other words, Judaic males are to become nearly blind drunk on Purim. The Talmudic injunction for this behavior is found at BT Megillah 7b. The esoteric reason for this intoxication, which produces a perception of the union of opposites, i.e. of good and evil, rests on the Kabbalistic doctrine (cf. Zohar Bereishis 36 and Chadis 2:137b) which is the occult secret of Purim: that both Haman and Mordechai serve the purposes of Judaism. As the eminent Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explained it, “…anti-Semitism is the tool through which the God of Israel preserves his people.”