I'm back again, not that I ever left--I apparently needed more than a week to catch my breath. And a busy week it was.
Purim, first of all: weird, entertaining, exhausting, and I caught a mysterious bug right afterwards and slept for two days straight. But that didn't make it any less fun. Also, despite chanting chapters 4, 5 and 6 last year (and 4 and 6 the year before--and 6 the year before that), those chapters did not seem any shorter. In fact, they appear to be getting longer as time passes. I'm already scared of next year.
This phenomenon did not stand in the way of my having a blast, however. I dressed as "The Recession," a costume inspired by the wonderful class I took on the music and meaning of the holiday. As I mused last week, commentators have framed Purim as a stage upon which to explore our struggles with good and evil--to allow the weaker force to sneak in or out and trade places with the stronger. One of my less pretty sides these days is an unhealthy obsession with how to make a living, a worry affording convenient escape from other pressing issues with which I prefer not to deal. I'm not thrilled with this part of myself and am trying to change, so decided to make fun of the whole enterprise. I wore a fire-engine-red wig (red = debt) festooned with torn-up dollar bills. (REAL bills. Yes, I destroyed $3; I broke the law! Some people were very upset by this, as if I had desecrated a holy document. In fact, it was the most economical way to make my costume; xeroxing the bills would have cost more than $3. With each slightly shocked reaction, I became more perversely satisfied with myself for the idea.) I wore a big chain around my neck from which dangled (fake) cut-up credit cards. Not everyone got the concept, but I really did feel like I had exorcised a demon.
I chanted again the following morning, all three chapters without a break. (The evening's proceedings were punctuated by much offensive and entertaining shtick.) My head spun; it was an awful lot of singing, all without notes or vowels. Oddly, though, dozens of verses of Esther are still easier to learn than a handful of Torah. The rhythms of the music, and the words themselves, seem to flow from a more natural and conversational place.
Onward to Pesah, and the beginning of the cycle of holidays once again.