Our Purim Costume Fiasco
At 7 AM this morning there was a smiley face storming around my house in a fit of fury.
My daughter had been preparing for today’s Purim festival for weeks. She had hunted down 3 pairs of giant glasses and painted smiley faces on them. She had searched for the perfect sunflower-yellow satin and sketched a design for the seamstress to make three smiley skirts. She had cut out and painted 3 large cardboard smiley faces exhorting passersby to “Give a smile, everything’s for the best!” She had practiced face-painting huge smiles that extended to mid-dimple. And just yesterday she had found the perfect hats– 3 golden sparkly hats.
But this morning, my smiley Weisberg-daughter trio got all dressed up in their glasses and yellow-satin skirts and cardboard smiley faces. But the hats…Where were the hats???
I tried to convince my bereft daughter to move on, “This is a great costume without the hats! Forget about them, it’s not worth it to be late to school over this.”
But my daughter could not move on. She had worked hard on this costume, and she wanted it to be perfect.
She yelled at her younger siblings to acquire a forced confession regarding the hats’ location. Hidden under a mischievous brother’s bed? Misplaced and forgotten under the quilt of a curious 2-year-old? She stomped up and down the stairs looking for the hats, but, alas, in vain.
But there was a happy ending. After a few minutes of searching, I found the slightly-bent hats in the corner of the living room underneath the scooters and huge bouncing-on balls. And my daughters headed off for school, looking 100% smiley and content.
But I haven’t been able to get this surreal scene of a furious smiley face raging around my house out of my mind. I guess because it reminded me of myself…
Let me explain. THE POINT of my daughter’s costume was to transform herself into a joyful smile. But, instead, she ended up transforming herself into an angry grouch.
And how often have I done the exact same thing?! How often have I felt frustrated/angry/overwhelmed and totally forgotten what THE POINT is. A few examples:
I am cleaning up the house. THE POINT of cleaning up the house is so my home will be a pleasant place for all my family members. But I scream at my kids to get them to clean up, which makes my home an unpleasant place for my family members.
I am getting everything ready for a child’s birthday party. THE POINT is to create a happy atmosphere for the birthday. But I get all stressed out and start yelling because the party was supposed to start at 5:30 and it’s already 6 PM, which creates an unhappy atmosphere for my family members.
I am getting everything ready on Purim morning: the meal, the mishloche manot. THE POINT is to celebrate Purim—which is (theoretically) the happiest day of the year! But I have too much to do and too little time, and I start barking at everyone, which makes Purim (in reality) the unhappiest day of the year.
And here’s another story about a family that forgot THE POINT. Though not during a happy occasion, but rather during the saddest one possible.
Rabbi Zilberstein shares this story about Bnei Brak tsaddeket Bracha Engel in his book Aleynu Leshabeach:
“Mrs. Engel was once walking down a city street…. Suddenly, she found herself in the midst of a funeral procession, during which a commotion was taking place. People were shouting at one another and were even spurred to violence. A brief query elicited the information that a fight had broken out because family members, taking their loved one to the cemetery for burial, had mistakenly thought that the ride in the Chevra Kaddisha vehicle was free. When told that this service came with a fee, a quarrel burst out among the mourners as to who should pay the price. In the meantime, the departed relative lay in great humiliation.”
And Mrs. Engel did something amazing. She did the thing that, I assume, she had down countless times in her life and that had shaped her into the revered tsaddeket that she was.
She asked herself “What’s THE POINT? What’s my next step in Avodat Hashem?”
And she removed her valuable gold necklace and handed it over to the Chevra Kaddisha members in order to cover the cost of the ride so that the burial could proceed and the honor of the deceased could be preserved.
What’s THE POINT, Chana Jenny? I know you’re feeling upset and frustrated and angry and overwhelmed…but really, what THE POINT? What does Hashem want you to do right now?