Sacred Silliness

Never let it be said that the Jewish holy day cycle fails to end with a bang. Purim, that joyous, sometimes raucous, always silly day, completes the Jewish festival calendar year after year. We begin the cycle of Jewish celebration with Passover in the first Hebrew month of Nisan and journey toward the twelfth and final month of Adar, where we encounter Purim’s laughing face.

From the Exodus of Egypt to the prankishness of Purim, our holy calendar goes from the sublime to the absurd. Perhaps that is as it should be, for surely we need laughter and whimsy in our spiritual lives as much as we need depth and meaning. “Humor is a prelude to faith,” wrote theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, “and laughter is the beginning of prayer.” Or expressed another way: “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper—it doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for a while.”

So on Purim we laugh, we howl, we stomp our feet, we make noise, we poke fun, we cut loose. We express our joy and happiness in being alive.

Chag Purim Sameach!

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