3.10.2009

Purim funnies

This is pretty good, especially if you like Mad Men:



Can I just say that I love having this day between Ta'anit Esther and (Shushan) Purim? It's great! Especially since I have the day off. I hate being hungry for the evening megillah reading and then the temptation of all the junk that's usually available immediately thereafter. I did make the mistake of breaking my fast on pizza last night, though, and then being very, very, very thirsty as I was delivering food packages to some elderly poor.
Note to self: Stop after the water, bell pepper, hummus, and rice cakes. Skip the pizza.

I have one little vent to share. I was delivering these food packages and some of the people we visited wanted to give us something small in return. I felt it was important to politely say "no" but then to take whatever was offered. It must be hard enough to accept charity without your own hospitality being rejected! I accepted an orange from a woman (most were giving out fruit or chocolate), and since I was so incredibly thirsty, I immediately opened it and began to eat it. Sweet tangy juice! One of my co-volunteers was shocked that I would eat it--she actually called me "brave." When I asked her what she meant, she muttered something about it having cooties. This was the same person who was incensed that such poverty existed in modern day Jerusalem, and didn't understand why "the government" didn't do more to help them. If you aren't willing to eat the generously-offered orange of a poor, elderly, Russian woman, I ask you: How is she going to get a job and get out of poverty? Poor people don't have cooties, nor do their oranges. I just don't understand people sometimes. When I feel bad about not doing more to help people (and I do, often--just not often enough to go out and do something about it), I can at least comfort myself with the thought that I don't think that poor, elderly Russians have the cooties. Rant over.

Happy Purim to those celebrating both today and tomorrow!

3.08.2009

I met a Jew...

from Paras the other week! He sounded vaguely French, so I thought he said Paris, but when I made some comment about having been there for a week once, he took one look at my white skin and said, "No, Paras!" (Or more accurately, "לא, פרס"). I guess "Paras" is just how you say "Persia" in Hebrew, but when I first heard him say it, I thought it was a specific region in ancient Persia that was mentioned in the Megillah:
יג וַיֹּאמֶר הַמֶּלֶךְ, לַחֲכָמִים יֹדְעֵי הָעִתִּים: כִּי-כֵן, דְּבַר הַמֶּלֶךְ, לִפְנֵי, כָּל-יֹדְעֵי דָּת וָדִין. 13 Then the king said to the wise men, who knew the times--for so was the king's manner toward all that knew law and judgment;
יד וְהַקָּרֹב אֵלָיו, כַּרְשְׁנָא שֵׁתָר אַדְמָתָא תַרְשִׁישׁ, מֶרֶס מַרְסְנָא, מְמוּכָן--שִׁבְעַת שָׂרֵי פָּרַס וּמָדַי, רֹאֵי פְּנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ, הַיֹּשְׁבִים רִאשֹׁנָה, בַּמַּלְכוּת. 14 and the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, who saw the king's face, and sat the first in the kingdom:
טו כְּדָת, מַה-לַּעֲשׂוֹת, בַּמַּלְכָּה, וַשְׁתִּי--עַל אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָשְׂתָה, אֶת-מַאֲמַר הַמֶּלֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ, בְּיַד, הַסָּרִיסִים 15 'What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, forasmuch as she hath not done the bidding of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains?'

After he revealed where he was from, we exchanged some quotes from the Megillah (mostly things like "שֶׁבַע וְעֶשְׂרִים וּמֵאָה מְדִינָה" / "over a hundred and seven and twenty provinces"). Sometimes, these little, insignificant exchanges happen and I feel very happy to be here.

It made me wonder if Jews from Persia feel differently about Purim than Jews from other parts of the world. Do they celebrate it more personally? Differently? Do they claim special ownership over it? Is Bostonian:Patriot's Day like Persian Jew:Purim?