A poem for Purim

A poem for Purim

Exodus 27:20-30:10

(File photo)
(File photo)

Now that Purim is almost here
Let’s try what we do this time of year
To deliver a d’var Torah in rhyme
Even if it doesn’t work all the time
In Parshas Tetzaveh there is a direct
Connection to the Megilah we’ll be
reading next
Week. And to this we give recognition
With one well-known Purim tradition
Did you ever wonder why we make a big deal
Of Purim costumes that look so real?
To dress up is Purimdig, it’s very funny
(Though some of those outfits cost so much money!)
We usually say that our clothing we change
Because “venahapoch hu” – Hashem
did arrange
That instead of the Jews being destroyed without a trace
Our enemies were killed, they took our place
To commemorate this, it is said
We too, switch our clothes and the hats on our heads
But that is easy, it can be done
Without the expense, you can still have fun
Is there some basis in the Purim story
For dressing in expensive pomp and glory?
The truth is that much deeper is the real reason
The whole miracle that took place this season
From beginning to end came about through dressing
As we shall see, not only through gluttonous “fressing”
We know Mordechai wore the robes of the king
That part of the Megillah we all like to sing
But earlier still, when he wore a
sackcloth gown
To fast and to pray, we chant in a
mournful tone
You see that our clothing a big role they play
In how we act, what we do, what we say
Wearing robes of majesty, we feel great
of course
And sackcloth makes us repent with remorse
But clothing can only change our mood
To make us feel bad, or to make us feel good
Deep down inside us nothing does change
Because it’s our own clothing we don’t
feel strange.
It is when we try to look like someone else
To try to be different from our real selves
We might think we’re like the other person
But this is not so — of the truth it is a perversion
Because if the shoes don’t fit on the feet
We are going to trip and fall in the street
And in the public instead of looking cool
We end up looking like a fool
On top of this, the person whom we copy
Will take it as an insult, and will not be happy
Instead of us enjoying their glory
We are likely to feel rather sorry

King Achashverosh, we are told
Showed off his treasures, his diamonds, his gold
ותוכלמ דובכ רשוע תא ותוארהב
ותלודג תראפת רקי תאו
The words דובכ and תראפת the Rabbis say
Refer to the verse in the Parsha we read today
תראפתלו דובכל ךיחא ןרהאל שדוק ידגב תישעו
Make holy garments — in honor and glory Aharon will dress.
The Talmud says that at the great feast of wine
That Achashverosh threw for the drunks
of his kind
Achashverosh donned the captured priestly garments with pride
But he could not change his real self
Deep inside
He was still a plain disgusting drinker
And his presumptuous behavior with holy things to tinker
Set him up to be caught, hook line and sinker
By the Satan who came along and pointed with his finger
“Look at that fool who thinks he is the Kohain Gadol!
Let’s show him let’s teach him. His plans we will muddle!”
Imagine a scene with a drunkard like him
Wearing the clothing of the holy Kohanim!
Surely he did not wear them
To impress the people or even to scare them
He sincerely believed that now they were his
He was entitled to dress like this
It was this feeling that he had that clothing
can show
A person who he is and that all watching
would know
That he is exactly as he is attired
From the sight of his dress, he is despised
or admired
Of course, we know this is not always true
Sometimes someone will wear for public view
Clothing that is deceiving, that does not tell
The way he really is under the apparel
But when Achashverosh wore the holy clothes
He did not simply state that he could do as he chose
He wanted everybody to think that when
He was thus attired he was Aharon Hakohen
But whereas Aharon truly wore them to feel
The part he was playing at the time was real
And if he wore them for the wrong things
His priestly service would be profane. All he would be doing
Would be abusing the sacred for his own uses
Which he had no right to do — just as he chooses
No. Using bigdei kodesh as mere ornaments
Rather than holy vestments
Was not in the minds of Aharon or Achashverosh the king
But while this one used them to promote
his own thing
This one understood that they were meant
To sanctify the otherwise ordinary event
The holy forehead plate on that drunkard’s head
Did nothing to change his mood, affect what he said
Still so angry and mad did he get
When his outrageous demands were not met
As for Amalek (for is it not also Zachor!)
we are taught
That Hakenaani Melech Arad
Was really Amalek, who came in disguise
To attack the Jews, take them by surprise
And later in the story of Shaul and Shmuel
The Amalekites disguised themselves as animals, you really couldn’t tell
Thus, they escaped and were able
To return later from the farm and the stable
And come out of the disguises under which they were hidden
To try to destroy the Yidden
So, my friends you see that the story began
In parshas Tetzaveh with the priestly vestments so grand
So expensive, so precious in more ways
than one
Certainly, unsuitable for Achashverosh’s fun.
Now we have learned that there are two uses for dress:
One is to try to deceive, to impress
While knowing full well inside
That they are only there the true intentions to hide
This was Amalek, over and over
He is always hiding under some cover
The second thing clothing should
Do, is to help a person doing his job feel good
This is the way the priestly garments
of Aharon
Were used by the Kohen, like a king
on his throne
He feels he’s in charge and in control
The same with the Kohen, feeling his role
This is also what Achashverosh thought
But he was mistaken. His dressing would not distort
Or change the way he really was
A stable hand turned king. And because
He was corrupt and disgusting before
The clothes did not help. They just made him more
Ridiculous and unsuitable looking
To be such an important king
He ended up like Amalek trying to hide
The real Achashverosh, the villain inside
So that is another good reason why on Purim
We dress up like kings and act like shikurim*!
Happy Purim! pjc


Rabbi Shimon Silver is the spiritual leader of Young Israel of Greater Pittsburgh. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.

read more: