When Purim came around during the years I taught religious school, the question of how to address the many moments of “bad behavior” would regularly pop up among my fellow teachers.
After all, the story of Purim focuses on a king who threw decadent parties; a queen who was executed because of her defiance; a Jewish woman named Esther who has to hide her faith and is chosen to marry against her will and an uncovered assassination scheme.
It’s an epic tale, and every year it posed a challenge to those of us wanting to unpack it for the younger souls in the congregation. We’d usually come up with reenacting the self-sacrifice of Mordecai or the bravery of Esther. We always found something meaningful to extract.
Sure, most kids got the message about Purim from our readings and play-acting. But every year, more than anything else, it was the costumes and the groggers that left an impact. It was about noisemaking and laughter.
Which is also true for the grownups at Beth Emet. Sure, there’s the service and the music and the reading of the Megillah. All good. But Purim has also come to mean spiel-making. Purim reminds us about the importance of funny. Wacky. Nonsensical. And loud. And chaos. (Just a little.)
For those of us who work hard and take our lives seriously (most of us, right?) we need this reminder once a year. To lighten up a little, even in the face of tough stuff. There will always be tough stuff. But finding the humor in the midst of tough stuff – now that’s something to make some noise about!
To get you in the mood, click here for a music parody of Purim by The Fountainheads: