I first want to mention that this is my Jubilee post, my 50th official blog posting. At least in this blog...
So Purim came and went and it was quite good. People make a very big deal about Purim in Jerusalem: schools get off for three days for it, malls are covered in celebratory materials, costumes, hamentashen, noisemakers (and firecrackers...), and the radio (as I don't own a TV) plays purim songs non-stop. It seems to have a similar status to the Christmas season in America.
I really enjoyed being able to have that day between the fast on the 13th and Shushan Purim (which I have mentioned is the day we celebrate Purim on in Jerusalem) on the 15th, having that time to eat and drink. If I really wanted to I could have created a drinking game: take a shot when you hear Haman's name, take a shot when you hear Mordechai's name, and beerbong for the entire time it takes to say the names of Haman's 10 sons in a single breath. No, I didn't do this. However, people in Jerusalem want to make sure you perform all the mitzvot to the utmost, so invitations to Seudot and particularly to parties (to use the language of the Megillah, they would be best discribed as mishteyhs) abound, and gifts to the poor and mishloach manot.
That brings me to some questions: why is the bracha said only on the Megillah reading? All four mitzvot are mitzvot in terms of Purim! Also, I was wondering why Megillat Esther is obligitory to be heard by all, while you never actually have to hear Torah being read... except for the part that directly deals with the preface to the Purim story, Zachor Amalek on Shabbat Zachor. Something about that doesn't sit right with me.
Alright, so this year I dressed up as Homer Simpson for the evening. It was an awful costume, but I really didn't have so much time to put it together as I was rushing from the Beit Zkeinim (Old Age Home) in Kiryat Menachem where I visited and brought mishloach manot to my Great Aunt. I wasn't so rushed that I didn't have time to go to the shuk... no I definitely went to the shuk. I bought wine to bring to my professor's house for a seudah and tried something for lunch that I never thought I would try: cow heart shishkebab. It was interesting and quite tasty, but I couldn't get over the fact that I was eating heart. According to my friend Kobi, they also used to sell cow brains there too but stopped. It was very good, and well worth the 15 shekels I spent on two kinds of shishkebabs cooked gachalei eish (over a coal grill) in pat eish tanur (laffa bread).
But I was in fact rushing because I ended up running down Chovshei Katamon late for the time I was supposed to be there, 30 minutes in advance. I got there on time for the beginning of Maariv. I couldn't get a cab for some reason.
My reading was a reprise of Chapter 4. For those of you who remember my Maariv reading from last year, my garbage bag this time was an ironic and unintentional orange. I looked like I was dressed neged-hitnadkut (anti-Disengagement), and my kriah on the words "and mordechai tore his clothing and put on sackcloth and ashes" may have sent an appearance of a political statement.
The shpiels were hilarious, particularly the one from my Chumash teacher, Baruch, who also wins my "Best Costume" prize for an amazing resemblance to Rav Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi infamous for his politically-big mouth. My Talmud class didn't end up writing one, maybe for lack of initiative. Oh well... They served a lot, including alcohol at school during the shpiel. As I said, Israel makes a big deal out of Purim, and Pardes is no exception.
I'm not going to give specifics about the party I went to, but it was amazing and I tried something called Arack for the first time, it was strange and yet intriguing, so I bought some for shabbos. I also had some great conversations with people there. I am being honest here when I say that at this party I fulfilled the mitzvah of Ad DLo Yada* and actually kept confusing Mordechai with Ahasverosh when I was telling this girl the entire story of Purim (what? she asked me to tell it...). I also definitely mistook Haman for Mordechai at some point, so I did my job.
I didn't end up back home from the mishteh until 4 AM and woke up for megillah reading at 7 AM... oops...
I used some yiddish today again in Mea Shearim. The guy in the shop was impressed. That made me kvell...
*You should still check out some of my past divrei torah regarding the necessity of this mitzvah.
Dvar Torah to follow soon