Yesterday I dressed up in a pencil lead gray sweater decorated with BLING! I fully intended on attending the Megillah reading at the temple and planned on playing the part. The Megillah is the Story of Queen Esther; she convinces King Akashvayros to prohibit Haman, his adviser, from slaying all the Jews in the land. We’re talking biblical days here, but heck, that theme still prevails. Anyway, Esther’s Uncle Mordechai is the conduit in this story. After learning about the scheduled destruction, he tells the Jewish queen to 1) confess to her husband that she, in fact, is Jewish, and 2) fulfill the above task without putting her own life in jeopardy. A daunting task for a girl probably under the legal drinking age.
Esther fears for her life, but her uncle insists the king loves her and would do nothing to shorten her life. He tells her to think beyond herself and do G-d’s will, which is to save the Jewish people. To ease her way into the king’s most loving graces, Esther throws a three-day dinner party. The king really loves to eat and drink!
Esther also invites Haman as the guest of honor. she asks him what one thing he would do to his nemesis — except in those days, she said “one who plots against you.” In this case, we’re talking Uncle Mordechai.
Full of himself, as well as food and drink, Haman answers that he would ride in a golden chariot, dragging the hated person by rope through the streets. At that point, Queen Esther confides in the king what will befall herself and her people should he not intervene. King A. takes immediate action against Haman.
To this day, people gaily dress up in costume, listen to the reading of the Megillah, and engage in hearty food and drink. They also deliver Shalach Monos (sp.?); goodies to the poor. And they eat Homentaschen (sp.?); three-corner jelly-filled cookies reminiscent of the Haman’s hat. They also drown out the evil man’s name by shaking greggors during the Megillah reading. Kind of like “pooh, pooh” when you’ve swallowed an insect.
But I didn’t want to attend because at this time of year, the temple is filled with little tykes and adults in Halloween-type costumes. I was coming straight from work, but more honestly, I just didn’t want to engage in this play world. My kids are too old for this frivolity, too.
Instead I spent the whole day worrying about not attending. My guilty mind-set finally eased when a good friend dropped off some Shalach Monos of her own for me: a 1-ounce container of bubble water, two cookies, and a sprinkling of Hershey kisses in a colorful Chinese take-out container! The gift was supposed to be anonymous, but somehow she knew my soul needed that “lift.” In a note, she assured me she’d already attended two Megillah readings, enough for both of us.
Better luck next year! Have you ever felt guilty about not attending a temple or church service? How did you handle it??