One way we celebrate Purim is by wearing different types of costumes and masks. The underlying concept is to reveal the disguised person’s “hidden” identity; this is a common theme throughout the many activities we take part in during the day. Both Mishloach Manot, sending food to your community members and friends, and Matanot L’Evyonim, giving Tzedakah to the poor, reveal our relationships with and compassion towards others.
In addition to these mitzvot, there is also a custom to rejoice by drinking alcohol. In the Talmud in Eruvin 65a, it says a person’s character can be measured in three ways: b’Koso, b’Kiso, uv’Ka’aso. This literally means by their cup, by their pocket, and by their rage. The cup references how someone acts while under the influence of alcohol and the pocket alludes to how they contribute to Tzedakah. Alcohol lowers peoples’ inhibitions, showing their hidden identity. Both b’Kiso and b’Koso come up on Purim, with Matanot L’Evyonim being an essential mitzvah and drinking being commonplace. A person’s actions in these two areas expose their true character.
Moreover, the Megillah proclaims itself an Igeret, which means a letter. Upon receiving a letter, you wonder what’s inside before promptly opening it up and revealing its hidden content. Additionally, the protagonist’s name of the Megillah story, Esther, comes from the word סתר, translating to hidden. She lived in the difficult times of the Purim story when G-d was seemingly concealed from the Jewish people. However, Esther persevered and saved her nation. To top it all off, there is no mention of Hashem’s name throughout the entire Megillah, though it is apparent to readers that He was heavily involved. Our goal therefore, by reading the Megillah, is to acknowledge Hashem’s hidden presence at the time.
According to kabbalah, Purim is the holiest day of the year. Many assume that Yom Kippur bears that title, but our rabbis tell us that Yom Kippurim is Yom Ki-Purim, a day like Purim. On Yom Kippur, in the absence of physical and material pleasures, it is not a challenge to achieve great heights of spirituality. But on Purim, when we conduct ourselves as normal with plenty of eating and drinking, it is a greater achievement to reveal the hidden presence of Hashem in our lives. Therefore, Purim serves as a model day for us to follow throughout the year, so that on all occasions, we can indeed feel the presence of Hashem and raise our levels of Kedusha, connection, and spirituality. May you succeed in revealing the hidden goodness in your life, and have a wonderful Purim.
By: David Leubitz (12th)