A belated Chodesh tov to all!
Some homemade thoughts on Adar and Purim for inspiration and fast day distractions. Sorry for digressing so much, since these are rather deep and complicated ideas.
One of the central themes woven into the fabric of Purim is the idea of concealment and masks. Of the outside hiding the inside, of working in the shadows. It is part of both the ‘mashal’ (the obvious, written Purim story) and the ‘nimshal’ (a careful examination of what’s not mentioned. There are some great articles about that on Aish and Chabad.)
But masks aren’t just a fixture of Purim. Our bodies, too, are masks. They clothe the neshama (roughly: soul), allowing it to live in a material world. Depending on the way you use your body to express yourself, you can either hide or reveal some of your inner depth.
It is the nature of Jewdism to have more hidden than revealed. If everything was open and exposed, the world would be a very different place in terms of ‘abstract’ concepts such as free choice, learning Torah, etc.
Ideally, the body hints or echos the soul. (This is essential to the concept of Tznius, ‘hiding’ the body. If the soul is so great that it even shows in the body, then the body is also holy and needs cover and protection.) But sometimes, people’s outsides’ don’t match their insides. This can be in the tragic case of people who look ‘frum’ ‘charedi’ ‘normal’ ‘holy’ on the outside, but inside they are the sort of people that we are not proud to call our own.
This is a sad and rare case. But there are two others that are more common. Since the nature of the soul is to be hidden, we can’t see other people’s internal growth. People who dress and act the way they always have might be the most refined and kind individuals underneath. Physical changes, especially when you are around people who know you well, can be much more difficult and intimidating. Far easier to take on giving extra tzedaka every week then to chop off the dreadlocks and wear a kippa. Some find it much simpler to refine their language or swear off texting for a month than to ‘un-dye’ their hair and wear longer skirts, or even a skirt at all. Far easier to daven mincha then to, say, stop wearing jeans.
There is another type of person in this catagory. There are people, great tzadikkim, who seem like average, pious individuals on the outside, but inside contain great depths of holiness and purity. These are people who seem like the stories of bygone years– because you never discover it until they have left the world.
So the next time a person’s actions don’t seem to reflect thier soul– think again. And remember, the same is true of you.
Have an easy fast and a joyous Purim