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You're Wearing a Mask Right Now & You Don't Even know it !
Is Purim the Jewish Halloween? Sure, we dress up in costumes on both days - perhaps there are a few more princesses, and a few less vampires amongst the kids on Purim, but otherwise they look a lot alike. There is a major difference however:
Dressing up in masks and costumes on Halloween evolved from customs which today are known
only to people who click “I Feel Lucky” on Google or who hang out at Stonehenge. Wearing costumes on Purim is a custom with deep roots, from which the Rabbis of old hoped we’d to gain some personal insight. Here’s my modern take:
We all wear costumes most of the time - Purim merely reminds us of that fact.
You’re probably disagreeing with me right now - you don’t believe you are wearing a mask or costume? but think about it - how many people are walking around with a hair
color they weren’t born with? Not to mention curly haired people who use straighteners , and visa versa; extensions, hats, wigs... And what about make-up? Not just for the ladies these days - How many of us would be horrified to be seen before “we put our face on” ?? We hide our age under botox and surgery, we change our eye color, pluck our eyebrows, whiten and straighten our teeth, some people even hide their gender - I mean come on, If this isn’t wearing masks, then what is?
Then there’s clothes - I could do the same quality of work in a pair of ripped jeans and a 1D t-
shirt as I do in my chinos and button down shirt, but I would never go to my job in my jeans (and for the record, I don’t own a 1D t-shirt...yet!!!). But our choice of clothes goes far beyond that - almost entire shopping malls, huge percentage of magazines, and TV hours are devoted to what we wear - Victoria Beckham in flat shoes was headline news last week. How is this not wearing costumes?
And in our societies we’re going further - tattooes and piercings are not just for biker gang
members in 2016 - They’re so common we barely notice them anymore - in fact an NBA player or pop star without “bodyart” is a rarity.
How we look makes us blend in or stand out - go to a black tie wedding in shorts, or to the beach in a suit and you will get strange looks, but aren’t you the exact same person? And that leads me to a deeper question - if “costumes” make people look at you differently, how do they know who is the real you?
And let's turn the question around - do you see the real person or do you see “the costume”? Criminologists have shown that thieves sometimes wear high visibility jackets, hard hats or carry clipboards, and with these they are able to blazenly walk into stores and warehouses and make off with goods under the eyes of staff, who don’t see past the costume.
So on Purim we wear consciously costumes, and we have to work harder to recognize the person under the mask. The question is, (and I think its what one of the things those rabbis wanted to teach us) can we do the same thing the day after Purim?