Monday, March 05, 2007

Purim Costumes that Piss Me Off

I think I am a person with a good sense of humor but when it comes to certain things I am very serious. Purim is a joyous holiday and meant to be fun but i think sometimes things are just not funny and pushing it too far. Here are some costumes that I have seen over the years that get me angry. I will start with the one that gets me angry the most.

1- People who dress up like Arabs or Palestinians such as Yassir Arafat, Osama Ben Laden or any other person that would fit into this category. I just don't see the humor in this. Why is this funny? Arafat is a murderer as is Ben Laden. Would someone dress up at Hitler on Purim and walk into a Hungarian Shul in that costume? I don't think so , so why are these costumes acceptable.

2- Yeshivish/Litvish/Misnagdish people who dress like Chassidim. What is funny about that? Are these people jealous that during the year since they dress like goyim on Purim it would be funny to dress like Jews. The way Chassidim dress is funny to them? What about in Shulchan Aruch where is describes how we should wear long coats? Its good to make a joke out of tradition and mock those who want to follow a tradition? Would you ever see a chasid shave his beard on Purim to dress like a misnagid? I don't think so, so why is it ok for them to do?

3- Men dressing like women. I don't find the humor in this. I am pretty sure that halacha does not permit a man to dress in womens clothing as per the Torah and I don't remember seeing an asterisk in the Torah that brings you to the bottom and says excluding Purim. It is especially not funny in America now because people actually cross dress and they are serious about it. Are people who dress like this mocking gays who dress like this? Why is that acceptable.

4- Scary costumes. Many children go to shul on Purim and can get scared of a scary costume. Is it funny and joyous to scare children? I don't think so.

If someone disagrees with me I would love to argue. I could be wrong but I feel pretty strongly about this. There are plenty of happy shatnez free family oriented costumes that are available. If someone is creative they can also create one on there own as well instead of stooping to these levels.


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I don't get annoyed at any of these costumes. Scary costumes I feel bad for the kiddies. The idea is venahapochu so dressing like an arab doesn't have to be funny but it is opp. in a way. My first year I was married I dressed up like a man and my ex dressed up like a woman and wore my sheitel. Of course he didn't know it wasn't allowed or supposed to be done or he would not have done it but it was a lot of fun. There were girls dressed up as chassidish ladies in my community and they looked exactly like chassidishe women it looked great. They probably just thought it was cute I wanted to do that next year I don't see a problem like that. So many yeshivish men dress up as chassidim and I don't think they are making fun just having fun nothing wrong with that. I think I covered it all.

AlanLaz said...

I was the pope. How do you feel about that?

Oh, and for the record, there is room for leniency with a man dressing up as a woman as long as one can tell it's a man.

FrumWithQuestions said...

SWFM- I peacefully disagree with you on everything. I just don't think its funny. I don't think its upside down. An example that would be ok would be someone that did not kill or murder innocent Jews. Women should not dress like men and vice versa. Its just not funny and its not upside down either. I remember at camp when they had upside down day. Where you pajamas at night and where your day clothes at night. Thats funny and upside down.

AlanLaz- I don't have a problem with someone dressing like the pope as long as they arent wearing a crucifix and wearing the certain begadim that might have been copied from the stuff they stole from the beis hamikdash. The last two popes have been friendly to the Jews so I can see the humor in it even though I would never dress like the pope.

frumhouse said...

So what did you dress up as?

Anonymous said...

You make some good points, but some of what you say is wrong.

"3- Men dressing like women. I don't find the humor in this. I am pretty sure that halacha does not permit a man to dress in womens clothing as per the Torah and I don't remember seeing an asterisk in the Torah that brings you to the bottom and says excluding Purim."

I think it's a machlokes, but I agree with you.

"Yeshivish/Litvish/Misnagdish people who dress like Chassidim. What is funny about that? Are these people jealous that during the year since they dress like goyim on Purim it would be funny to dress like Jews."

The Chassidishe dress is the dress of Polish nobles (goyim) from a few hundred years ago, among whom were great anti-semites. Do you think Avrohom Avinu dressed like Chassidim of today? Moshe Rabbeinu ? Rabbi Yehudoh Hanosi ?

I know it's hard for you to let a post go by without attacking Litvaks, but you can try to be a little objective at times.

What about the Chassidim who get drunk and roll on the floor and throw up (some non Chassidim do it do, and they should be condemned as well) ? Is that okay with you ?

Anonymous said...

Make that

(some non Chassidim do it too, and they should be condemned as well)

smb said...

Fwq, I think you made some good points.
In regards to the litvak dressing as a chassid, I think it depends on the person. We don't know if he is making fun or just having fun unless we find out more about him.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Wow you have 7 comments already, ok disagree with me no problem, but it is very funny just for the record.

FrumWithQuestions said...

Frumhouse- My wife bought some silly Hawain stuff that she made me wear

Anonymous - I think you are the one that is way off. Shulchan Aruch predates Hassidm and the Mechaber talks about long coats being the difference between the goyim and the Jews. The Mechaber was also in Israel not Poland. Litvish Roshei Yeshivas always wear long Jackets as well. I am not attacking Litvaks I am just asking what is so amusing or Purim Like to dress like a Chassid. You did not answer my question.

LVNSM27- Thanks for stopping bye. I hear what you are saying. Someone who has a Chassidishe neshama but dresses during the year like a litvak can dress like a Chassid on Purim and not get mocked

SWFM- Its not funny. Apparantly many Conservatives don't find it funny that Guliani dressed like a woman on SNL and that might cost him the Republican nomination.

Anonymous said...

"the Mechaber talks about long coats being the difference between the goyim and the Jews"

Where does he say that and what exactly does he say ?

Provide the citation to back up your claim so we can see for ourselves if it's correct.

Rafi G. said...

why does the costume have to be funny? Some people just want a costume that looks different than how they normally look. It does not have to be funny and humorous

FrumWithQuestions said...

Anonymous- i will find out and post it when i get the info.

Rafi G- I didn't say the costume has to be funny but someone should not dress in a way that can offend someone

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

As in many cases, the famous reason is not even close to the important reason. Other examples are, the kallah walking around the chatan seven times and the movements of the lulav and etrog.

If you're interested in the basis for the weird costumes, please see

Jewboy said...

Pesonally, I like dressing up as Borat.

FrumWithQuestions said...

Barzilai- Im not exactly sure what you mean with your comment

Jewboy- Did you wear the Borat bathing suit?

Anonymous said...

Get a life!

Jacob Da Jew said...

What can you do....Some people have a lack of imagination so they use whatever is around them i.e. arabs, women.

I dressed up as a Chassidshe Blogger.

Tell me that ain't funny?!?!

p.s. No one understood wtf I was. Which made it funnier.

Anonymous said...

Agreed- people who dress like Arabs or make fun of other yidden should be ung with bigson and seresh

I donned my flannel jacket, put on my camo hat. Made sure the trigger lock was on and strode into my purim party as a hick with a 30 caliber rifle- pretty cool eh.

Anonymous said...

I always had the same question regarding number one and, although I never had the guts, wanted to dress up like Hitler to demonstrate that very point.

Anonymous said...

Dressing up on Purim is very clearly against Jewish Law. Any honest person will admit this.

A righteous, older convert from Christianity who researched the subject, taught me more about what is well known: Before the period of mourning between between Lent and Easter, during which they abstain from meat, Catholics from New Orleans (Mardi Gras) to Rio (Carnival) continue this wild celebration from old Europe. Besides gorging on meat (the reason for the word root "carni"), one of its old trademark customs from among the aristocratic "elite" of Europe, was the ballroom extravaganza: The "Ball" was a pre-Lent festivity, whose participants came in exotic costumes for disguise. This was a part of a wife-swapping game. The idea was that no woman should know who she went home with (the game was "lost" by one who ended up with one's husband). Barukh ha-mavdil bein Yisra'el la-goyim.

I heard that letters exist from the 17th century by a rabbi or two who protested this imitation by Jews of this costume nonsense. It wasn't long, however, before the commonfolk had their way, and the decrepid customs of the European ballroom entered Jewish practice. It seems that it really took off and became commercialized among American Jews, with their own annual "Purim Ball" extravaganzas and "Purimspiels." As this custom became entrenched in Jewish practice, it was not difficult for Jews to find even deep spiritual meaning, connecting costumes and disguises with the themes of Purim.

To my humble understanding and that of the Hakham who showed this to me years ago: As unpopular and horrible as this may sound to many, it seems that dressing up in costumes on and around Purim is no other than the transgression of a negative commandment, "buHuqotheihem lo telekhu"--not to imitate gentiles (especially idolators) in their customs or dress. It is not the imitation of something with a practical function, such as the way we fasten our shirt buttons or our belts are buckled; rather it is something purely "cultural". Neither can one claim (such as many do regarding the long black frock-coats, Hamburger hats, and white shirts garb that European rabbis naturally adopted to imitate the Christian clergy) that this is a custom or dress that has since b! een abandoned by the non-Jews and is now recognized as distinctly Jewish look (HaShem YeraHem).

It should be noted, Borukh HaShem, that here in Israel, some traditional schools of Hassidim do not engage in this. Their yeshiva boys have a simple dress theme every year that is only marked by a wearing Turkish hat. The only pervasive Hillul HaShem (especially according to Rambam) to which I've found little exception among different groups, is the public drunkenness, even among young teens.

I hope I didn't upset anyone by my stance on Purim costumes, but truth is truth. I believe the day we cease to pursue the sometimes-bitter truth in our service of HaShem, we are finished, Has wa-Shalom.

If any of you with children in Jewish schools feel that it would put too much emotional pressure on the child to reveal this to them, know that my two eldest sons, aged 8 and 5 1/2, were taught the truth about these matters (with great sensivity) from the age of two. Until the age of four we did not send them to pre-school the day of the costume party. From the age of five we do send them, preparing them well ahead of time, giving them plenty of positive reinforcement before and after. Borukh HaShem, they are normal with many friends. They don't look down on the Jewish world around them, but--being educated correctly--rightfully feel sorry for them. Not only do they not miss it one bit, but my brave five-year-old explained the halakhah to his kindergarten teacher! Best! of all, B"H, their teachers respect us.

In short, people can make excuses if they want to, but for whoever is willing to work hard enough to serve HaShem properly, my personal experience shows that HaShem clears a path. Ba li`taher, masayye`in otho (hilkhoth tashuvah, 6:10).

Also, Rav Eli`ezer Tavor found that proves even the pagan sources of it all:

Anonymous said...

I do not know when exactly the custom began, but wearing costumes seems clearly to have originated in Catholic countries, as an influence by the festivities of Lent. I know by having done considerable amount of asking elders of different ethnic origins, that throughout the Eastern and Middle Eastern Jewish communities until one hundred and fifty years ago (from India to Morocco), these customs were unheard of.

Now that you know the truth... go ahead and use a bunch of backward logic to disprove it. Go ahead and tell me how this rav does it, or I am being too serious. At the end of the day, you lose in Jewish Law. No post-Sanhedrin court has the authority to legitimize this pagan practice, just because they (fairly recently) found one source about Ester being "hidden".

Anonymous said...

You think you have a sense of humor, but you really don't have one, or none of this would bother you.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more!!

Happy Purim!

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