Motzei Shabbos moonlight, on the way to shul for the Purim Party!
I've never had a truly stellar and outrageous Purim experience before. My shul back in Nebraska always did a Purim Spiel (think, the megillah as a musical to the theme of Classic Rock or Beatles Classics), but I never dressed up or really rocked out Purim style (last year Tuvia and I were on a plane back from Chicago around now). And, of course, Purim isn't even over -- it's really just begun. But man alive, what an experience so far.
Our shul did three readings this year: the regular loud one, a women's one, and the quiet reading. Our amazing friends prompted the quiet reading, because of their children's sensory/noise concerns, and the turnout for the reading was outstanding. Not everyone loves noise on Purim, so we opted for a single grogger spin, and a quiet boo, or some subtle key shakes. It was excellent, and for my first time really listening to the megillah in full (I've read it about 1 million times) was really beautiful, especially because the person reading it was one of our closest friends.
And then? Then came the party. If I could describe it to you, I'd say this: It was like a bar mitzvah gone completely wrong. I mean that, of course, in the most positive way possible. The only thing it really lacked was a giant bouncy castle and some farm animals. there was a big racetrack for people to race cars, video game stations set up for guitar hero and other systems, and there was even a setup for MarioKart racing, bucket seats included. There was a bubble guy there who basically led the kids in the Chicken Dance while magically making bubbles appear, as well as a face-painting lady, and my favorite thing of all: the Ben and Jerry's people! There was a baked potato bar and pasta and cookies and candy and soda pop out your ears, and the kids, I'm sure, are at home right now regurgitating their evening's indulgences. The band that played was, in my opinion, less than impressive. But I have to share their pictures anyway. The lead singer fancied himself a modern day Mick Jagger (those moves were ... interesting) and the masks were a straight rip from that other band that tours and does shows in animal masks (is that Animal Collective?). Overall, I was just bummed. It made me long for and miss desperately Blue Fringe. Now THAT is a band!
But the best thing about the big ole crazy Purim Party? THE COSTUMES. Holy mother of Moses! There were gigantic bottles of mustard, penguins, hippies, a greaser dad and his poodle skirt wife, Dr. Seuss characters, knights, cowgirls and cowboys, Star Trekkies -- and those were just the ADULT costumes! And there was our costumes, and those, folks, were something special. Can you figure out what we are?
Okay, probably not. So, only two people out of several dozen got our costumes, which are what I call "punny" -- funny puns or plays on words. My costume is Pink Eye and Tuvia's costume is Swine Flu. A few other punny costumes were our friend who was dressed all in black with postage stamps attached (Black Mail) and another who was toting around a piece of mail around her neck while dressed in a wedding gown (Mail Order Bride). These, my friends, are creative costumes! Just a note, you'll NEVER see me in that much pink ever again. Ever. That robe was so bulky, too. I look kind of ridiculous. We want to mix things up for the second reading and party/seudah tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.
Oh, and the most amusing thing? The payot-toting, goat-mask wearing drummer of the band! AWESOME.
For those of you looking for a little something more in your Purim, I highly recommend looking up or checking out a copy of Greek Esther. The version we read and know now is Hebrew Esther. There are three main versions of Esther that float around -- Hebrew, Greek, and the Alpha text. The latter is a Greek text that pretty much resembles the Hebrew version we have today (a translation). However, "Greek Esther" is a version of the Esther story that is about 170 lines longer, includes tons and tons of HaShem, and has many inclusions in it that make the modern reader question why the rabbis chose to canonize Hebrew Esther, not Greek Esther. After all, Hebrew Esther doesn't mention HaShem, not once. In Greek Esther, Mordechai and Esther pray to HaShem, Mordechai has a vision about HaShem's plan, and more.
The simplest answer, of course, is that the longer version was written in Greek and Greek = bad. Another theory is that there originally was a longer Hebrew Esther that the Greek Esther was based on, but because it was lost by the time the rabbis got to it, they still believed that Greek = bad. My question is why they didn't translate the longer version into Hebrew and go with it (heck, burn the Greek copy!). Of course, the rabbis would probably say that the whole point of Esther is that HaShem, while implicit, must be hidden for the story to be truly impactful as it takes place in the Diaspora. The funny thing is that the Rabbis, in the Midrash, essentially DO what Greek Esther does in that it elaborates and sort of embellishes the Hebrew Esther and the result is that if you read Hebrew Esther with the Midrash you sort of get the same feel as Greek Esther.
Anyhow, I could talk about this for hours, but what I'm saying is this: Go read Greek Esther. It'll BLOW your mind. Chag Purim Sameach!! Chaviva out!
What!? Pigs need automobile gas, too!