Published February 2021
The Hamans Notwithstanding, Jews Live on and Enjoy Life
Purim, which marks the first serious anti-Semitic event in history, is celebrated in an unusual way. Instead of observing the day in seriousness and gravity and contemplating the possible dreadful consequences, we traditionally treat the whole event as a huge joke. In fact, Haman the archetype of the classic anti-Semite is portrayed as a clumsy clown. Children masquerade as Haman, musicals and parodies are the order of the day, and even a special cookie has been created bearing the name of Haman.
This kind of observance gives us a great insight into the Jewish mind. It is precisely the ability to accept life with a sense of humor that has helped the Jew to survive. This saving humor comes out of the wellsprings of the Jewish character, which affirms life and enables the Jew in every generation to gain a perspective of Jewish history from a contemporary vantage point.
When it can be shown that the anti-Semites of history have hurled themselves in vain at Jewish existence, then it becomes clear that to try to stamp out Jews and Judaism is an act of supreme folly. It is laughable. And Haman has been treated to the supreme insult of being reduced to a biscuit – the Hamantaschen which we polish off in one mouthful!
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD