Masked Meanings

Yesterday, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (aka The Velveteen Rabbi) blogged about how Purim Katan presents us with a Rabbinic conundrum. In part, she says:

The rabbis of the Mishna tell us the following:

“There is no difference between the fourteenth of the first Adar and the fourteenth of the second Adar save in the matter of reading the Megillah, sending mishloach manot (reciprocal gifts of food), and gifts to the poor.” (Megillah, 6b)

Let’s unpack that. The Mishna is telling us that there is no difference whatsoever between the two Purims — except the actual acts whose performance signifies Purim! On Little Purim, we don’t read from the scroll of Esther, we don’t send mishloach manot, and we don’t give charity to the poor. So what can it mean to say that there is no difference between them, when at first glance it appears that they have nothing in common save their name?

She goes on, cutting to the heart of the matter:

Sometimes our celebrations take visible forms. […] But sometimes we can evoke the emotional and spiritual valance of a celebration without actually doing the acts we associate with the holiday at hand.

For whatever reason, this resonates with me this year (more accurately, this LEAP year, since we won’t experience Purim Katan again until Feb 13, 2013.) The holiday where so much is hidden – Esther’s identity from Ahashverosh, Haman’s true intentions from the King, and of course, God – who is never mentioned in the entire narrative but whose involvement seems apparent in every twist and turn – this holiday has itself a hidden aspect.

Starting Thursday night (and for the entire month of until the “real” Purim) we can look at each other slyly, in on the joke that it’s all really Purim but winkwink, nudge nudge, mums the word, say no more, say no more.

And any more than that, I honestly couldn’t say better than Rabbi Barenblat. So I won’t try. Click here to read her post.