Shabbat of Sanctity Dirshuís 20th Anniversary International Convention

Past Articles:
THE LESSON OF THE LOST HAT

By: L. Azar

Last year was the first time my son was old enough to really dress up for Purim. To be specific, he was old enough to dress up, but young enough to harbor no opinions regarding what exactly he wanted to be. Yay for me! From about three months in advance, I brainstormed. For my toddler’s first real costume to pass muster, there were copious requirements. First, his attire had to be homemade and not something found in every pop-up store in town. Additionally, the actual costume had to be cheery and bright. Plus, it had to be practical; no face makeup, complex ties, or features that necessitated constant adjusting (Example: Oops, he sneezed! Untie the bow, unzip the zipper, remove the hat, re-brush hair, etc.).

As soon as “apple” popped up in my brain, I instinctively knew that I had hit upon The Costume. My son was just so…well, apple-like! Of one thing I was sure: He was going to be the reddest, juiciest, and most delicious apple around! I could already envision, atop his adorable little head, a tall stem and giant green leaf nestling limply beside it.

I got right to work. After losing myself in the fabric store, I finally settled on some jolly red material and other
knick-knacks for his apple-of-the-century
costume. While there wasn’t too much involved in concocting the actual apple, the hat I had in mind was an ordeal. I’ll spare you the details but, armed with a wig-head, winter hat, and enough glue to circumnavigate Earth, my son’s stem-and-leaf hat materialized two hours later. My excitement only multiplied when my little guy flashed his trademark toothy smile every time he donned the hat.

Permit me to digress with a disclaimer: I am not a vain person. I know Purim costumes are not the
be-all and end-all of the holiday. And yet, I allowed myself to get carried away with a little costume creativity.

I should have seen it coming….

Purim morning dawned, beautiful and clear. With childish buoyancy, I leaped out of bed. There’s a certain thrill I still have on Purim that you just can’t snuff out of me, and that, I imagine, will accompany me until I’m old and gray. I delight in the joyous festivity and smile at the merriment of festooned children as they clap and stomp at the call of “Haman!” Yes, I’ll admit it – I grow excited from the candy, too!

I carefully unfolded the little apple costume and dressed my son. He was so adorable I could eat him up!

I settled my little red “apple” into his stroller and placed a load of apple cobblers in the basket underneath. I strolled down the streets, soaking in the happy Purim atmosphere. No sooner did I deliver my first Purim basket than I noticed that my son’s hat was not on his head. Nor was is it anywhere nearby; not on the ground, not in the stroller and not lumped together with all of my Purim paraphernalia.

It was gone. Period.      

The story has no lovely ending; I never did find that delightful apple hat. Sounds petty, but, at the time, I cared –
maybe a little too much. Strangely, that ended up being the incident that snapped me back to reality. Hold on here! My inner voice scolded me. What is this day about, anyway?

Certainly not the externals, I knew, as I slowly extricated myself from my costume fever. In fact, Purim is one of the most misunderstood holidays of the year, and I am glad I had reason to help bring the day into focus. On Purim, we seize the opportunity to let our unity shine and make physical strides toward improving our ben adam l’havero (interpersonal) relationships. Moreover, Purim holds a compounded power for us – the chance to see Hashem’s guiding hand and connect to Him through tefillah (prayer).

This Purim, hold on to the opportunities that knock. Don’t let them slip away under a mound of costume photos and nosh. Take it upon yourself to do something tangible to bring the light of Purim into focus.

May this Purim herald in the absolute joy of the final redemption, Amen!