Hartman Institute Explores Purim, the ‘Strangest’ Holiday
13.02.2017 , by Shalom Hartman Institute
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Purim as a Manifesto of Jewish Peoplehood
Over the millennia, Purim has generated the most outlandish collection of traditions. Unique in the Jewish year, Purim represents, on the face of it, the penetration of a series of most un-Jewish - almost pagan - customs into the sober Jewish culture. We use the word “sober” advisedly, because one of the principal manifestations of Purim celebrations is, of course, the practice of drunkenness.
Indeed, Purim seems to resemble a Bacchanalian revelry with its atmosphere of carnival and abandonment of the usual norms of a civilized Jewish lifestyle. Is Purim-life really reflective of Jewish life, or is it a most terrible aberration from that life that somehow has been swallowed up and allowed to stay in a defined place in the Jewish year?
Is Purim just a time out from Jewish ethics to let us relax and have a good time or does it offer an alternative worldview that can contribute to our self-understanding?
The following articles offer a broad range of provocative commentary, explanation and analysis. Read them, engage with them, and comment on them. Purim Sameach.