Removing our masks
Purim is a holidaay of paradoxes. It is a joyous occasion, but could have been very different, a day of great sadness and mourning. To increase our happiness, we don't ask for things like candy and food, as some do on Halloween, but we give candy and food. In fact it is a duty.
One of the greatest paradoxes is the fact that such an amazing miracle happened on Purim, but it is the only book in the whole Bible which doesn't mention the word God. We understand through the events surrounding Purim that the miracle was hidden in nature and this is supposed to teach us something about tthe extraordinary nature of our existence. To remember this aspect, we dress up and disguise ourselves on Purim.
Another aspect is the 'mask' that Queen Esther was forced to wear. It is said that when he first met her during the contest of all the maidens of his kingdom, Ahashverosh, chose Esther because she didn't wear a mask. She didn't want to pretend to be something she wasn't and was proud to be part of a people known for their goodness and humility. Only later when her mission became clear did she have to hide her true identity for the greater good.
For generations, the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities had to hide their true identities in public and save their attachment to the Jewish People for private. The mask remained on many of our people as a simple tool of survival and subsequently became part of our psychological make-up even when the danger receded.
However, in our lifetimes we are seeing open miracles with more and more people taking off their 'masks' and being proud and free of their true identity. Every day, people are discovering the secret of their Jewish heritage and ancestry and are openly seeking ways to reconnect with the people they were cruelly ripped from over the previous centuries. This is the miracle of the 21st Century that is both 'open' and 'hidden', and this is the paradox of our movement.
May this Purim be the beginning of more 'masks' being removed and the movement to reconnect our people move forward to the next stage.
Happy Purim to all our friends!