Cancel or at least postpone Purim

Posted on February 17 2021
Howard Feldman

I am not sure that we need Purim this year. I felt the same about the High Holidays back in  2020 when we were much younger, thinner and fitter. But not really that fit. Back then I argued that we had had months of contemplation, introspection and focus on who would live and who would die. Despite my sensible suggestion to cancel it, they went ahead pretty much as they always did.

Only with a greater focus on those who would die by plague.

I will try my luck once again, but this time will motivate for the cancellation or least postponement of the festival of Purim, which is due to take place next Friday. My reasons are not at all because I have abandoned my faith and that I no longer walk on the path of the righteous. Assuming that I ever did. It is not because I no longer see the hidden miracles and hand of G-d in all that is around us.

Rather it is because I do.

My children, by way of example, openly acknowledge that their survival lies in the realm of the supernatural, having spent lockdown with me. Nothing else explains why we have not sought to have them re-homed.

In addition, I would argue that to celebrate the festival of Purim next Friday, when each of the last 363 days of lockdown felt exactly like Purim, seems a little pointless. Because the month of Adar and the festival of Purim is about an “upside down world.” It is a time of altered perspective, with the past year having been the most topsy turvy of all our experiences.

But that speaks to the general. It’s in the specifics that it becomes even more interesting.

Especially the drinking part.  At time when we could access alcohol. It’s not that we have become dependent.

And the part about not being able to tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman. Mordechai and Haman? Let’s be real. Most of us find it hard to tell if its Tuesday or Wednesday on any given Monday. Those two characters will be a cinch when it comes to muddling them up. I hardly even need alcohol to aid in the confusion. Further, because, hypothetically one’s 16-year-old daughter who has little access to her friends, except by way of technology is now at home most the time, it (hypothetically becomes important to learn the names of the main characters in her “megillah.” At 52 years old I have trouble remembering which one of the Purim characters Esther was – let alone trying to distinguish from modern day Kaycee from Kayla from Kaylee or Kylie. Haman and Mordechai are practically the “Maths Lit” of the mix-up challenge.

I don’t even need to mention masks because that’s too obvious. Or the money for the poor. Or the baking.

In 2020 in both the United States and in Israel Purim was the start of the first wave. Our timing is good in that we have ended the second one. Whereas I don’t really want to cancel one of my favourite festivals, it is not a time to abandon caution and to revel in the day. Perhaps, rather, we can continue to look for the hand of G-d in all the places that we least expect to find Him.