"They are to observe these as days of feasting and gladness, and for sending delicacies to one another, and giving gifts to the poor." -- Esther 9:22
"Take the Christian Christmas pageant, add a down-home Halloween and a couple bottles of wine, and you start to get a good idea of the Purim festival." -- Judaism for Dummies
Really Purim seems to be the one Holiday that I can say really puzzles alot of people including those in the tribe. Where in the heck did the costumes come from? Purim is such a joyous holiday that the rabbis teach it will still be observed in the messianic age, when most all other holidays will be abolished. We look we find that succot of course will exist and the sages teach that Yom Kippor will a day of joy as well and feasting on foods instead of fasting. The costumes is the idea that Esther who is really Hadassah hides as a Persian when infact she was Jewish. The idea is that why we wear costumes is to also hide our true idenity and remember the story of Esther who saved the Jewish people from destruction because she only revealed her true inner self when the time was right. Some sages say that it is a time to remember that even when Hashem seems hidden that really He is near and that He is only hidden because it is the other way around we are actually hidden from HIm.
So how does that relate to costumes? Our Purim costumes not only diguise but reveals also, and it demonstrate our aspirations and emotions, showing how we might act, given the opportunity to emerge from our "shells". While a costume can reveal our funny witty and happy fun loving person it can also reveal the fact that person really feels like they are a stranger and hides it in their humor most of the time. The contrast between image and reality begs the question: by what is one judged? By actions, intentions, or nature? I like the way one Rabbi Yehoshua ben Prachya puts it, "judge everyone favorably" (Mishnah Avot 1:6). We must help that individual overcome the evil inclination by responding positively to negativity, throwing water on the flames, rather than oil. So sometimes what you see is not always be what it seems.
It is important to really think about the costume you chose and how it reveals your inner self and what you really want to be in life. Do you want to be a peace make or give more charity , or maybe volunteer in something that helps people? Whatever it may be instead of hiding, reveal those inner desires to be better and want to do more. Put on that spiritual mask that helps you come out of your "shell" and do what you always wanted to do that truly is the best you can be. That spiritual mask hides the negative thhoughts you cannot do it or be the best. What is that spiritual mask? Well it is called complete emunah in Hashem that He is always near and never let you down and totally believes in you and that you an overcome these negative inclinations that hold you back. A person is not judged by their inclinations, but rather by their reactions to those inclinations. So next time when you see someone who seems bad in nature remember that person maybe hiding the goodness inside somewhere deep just waiting for that right time to reveal his or herself.
Happy Purim Yall!!