Hard to find humour
Purim is a time of deception and inebriation. The story we commemorate in the reading of the Megillah is one of hidden identities and near catastrophe. As is often humorously pointed out, the Purim story ends as most Jewish holidays do, celebrating victory over oppressors and overindulging.
Purim is a fun holiday, with layers of meaning for people of different ages. The young (and many of their elders) enjoy the costuming and playacting, while we appreciate both the laughs and the historical and contemporary nuances of the shpiel perhaps more as we age.
The circularity of the Jewish calendar is both an indicator of consistency and of constant change. While the readings and rituals may stay more or less the same century after century, we as individuals and as a community are different than we were when we read the same verses last year, or the years before.
Certainly, much has changed since last Purim. We were keenly aware of this when we prepared this year’s Purim spoof page. Each year we have a few laughs (and try to bring some to readers) by making fun of current events. But it becomes exceedingly challenging to conjure witty parody when real-life events beggar belief and seem like bad TV comedy.
On Purim, we try to upend the truth or make fun of situations by taking them to their extremes. This takes special aplomb when upended truths and extreme situations are the apparent norm.
The parallels extend beyond the form, even mimicking substance. If the White House today is Ahasuerus’s castle, in this far-fetched narrative, there is even a Jewish consort credited for reining in the worst inclinations of the king.
George Orwell is invoked constantly these days, and rightly so. The fictional dystopia the author imagined in 1984 bears creepy similarities with current events.
The U.S. president habitually says (or, more frequently, tweets) outright falsehoods, either completely made up from within his own imagination or regurgitated from untrustworthy sources on the fringes of the internet. Then he repeatedly refers to legitimate media outlets as “fake news.”
The lies are so bald-faced and the accusations so exactly misdirected that we need to wonder if, rather than being the product of an unhinged loose cannon, they could conceivably be part of a genius strategy. Could it be that the president is inundating his constituents and the world with so many outlandish assertions and utter deceits that he is trying to inure us before laying on something he’s had in the works all along? If this sounds crazy or paranoid, well, we can review the facts, such as they are, next Purim.