Every year, a month before we celebrate Purim, children and their parents start planning their costumes. In Hebrew, “costume” is “Tachposet”-תַּחְפֹּשֶׂת. Purim allows everyone to change their appearance, and sometimes even their gender, for a day. It is really interesting to see because in the Hebrew bible men are forbidden to wear women’s clothes and vice versa, but Purim is the exception, as it is written:
|“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
“What they used to wear masks on Purim , and a man that wear a woman’s dress and a woman wear a man’s garment -There is no prohibition since they mean for rejoice”(Rabbi Moshe Iserlish)
“לֹא יִהְיֶה כְלִי-גֶבֶר עַל אִשָּׁה וְלֹא יִלְבַּשׁ גֶּבֶר שִׂמְלַת אִשָּׁה כִּי תוֹעֲבַת ה’ אֱלֹהֶיךָ כָּל עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה.”
“מה שנהגו ללבוש פרצופים בפורים וגבר לובש שמלת אשה ואשה כלי גבר אין איסור בדבר מאחר שאין מכוונים אלא לשמחה בעלמא”
Purim is, without a doubt, a day when your identity can temporarily chance. The idea of this day is to rejoice! In the book of Esther, we learn that the month of Purim, Adar, is a month that changed from being one of grief (Yagon in Hebrew-יָגוֹן) to one of rejoicing. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we wear costumes (see Esther 9:22).
There’s another interesting observation I’d like to share with you concerning the Hebrew word for costume. In order to form a word in Hebrew, we need to put the root (Shoresh) of the word in a certain pattern, and by adding different vowels a word is then formed. Not many people know this, but the word “Tachposet” comes from the root “Chet-Peh-Sin” in Hebrew, which means to seek, to look for, or to search. This adds another deep meaning to the day of Purim – it is not a day in which you stop soul searching. On the contrary, dear friends! Even in this day, when you change your clothes (Begadim in Hebrew- בגדים),it is still a time of searching. Maybe because of this there is a strong connection in the Hebrew language between the Day of Atonement (Yom Ha-kippurim- יום הכיפורים) and Purim-פּוּרִים. Both are days of soul searching and self-examination and, for this reason, are the only two days that are never changed. (See Esther 9:28 and Leviticus 16:34).
So what’s your costume this year?
We’d love to hear about it so be sure to share on our Facebook page, “I love Hebrew”.
Have a blessed week, Iris