Everywhere I look, I see Purim! Last night, as I walked to shul to daven Maariv and hear the Megillah, it struck me that (like Shabbat), everyone around me is celebrating Purim! I do not need to fear ridicule walking down the street in my (strange) costume (except the ridicule from my kids, maybe!). Someone mentioned to me that you go on a public bus today (or tomorrow in Yerushalayim) dressed all crazy and no one even looks twice at you...since they too are dressed strangely!
The atmosphere of JOY and HAPPINESS is palpable...people driving down the street honking and waving; firecrackers; costumed children and adults; ability to give Matanot La'Evyonim; Mishloach Manot and on and on and on!
At the Megilla reading last night, something happened and I literally burst out laughing. They have a pre-determined list of 18 places where people make noise for the name of Haman (yemach shemo). Someone holds up a pony-on-a-stick for 15-20 seconds and then after that the noise dies down. After the 18th Haman and the cacophonous rendition of sounds, I sat awaiting the last few sentences of the megillah. Suddenly, there was one more (seemingly) impromptu clanging and noise-making. Yet, what in the world caused this noise? There were no more occurrences of the name of Haman?!? Then, I realized, the people were making this noise for an additional word: מס--"MAS" or "taxes." I found it quite funny to have 300 people "hocking" for Haman and "hocking" for taxes! Only in Israel!! :)
I look forward to delivering the Mishloach Manot this year as we have about 20 to deliver and not the usual 120 (no joke!). While the weather has been VERY wet here (BH), today is a mix of clouds and sun...hopefully we can get through the day with the rain LATE and the festivities un-marred.
Chag Purim Sameach!