Sign In Forgot Password

There are masks and there are masks

03/05/2020 04:09:20 PM


Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus

There are masks and there are masks. Purim is days away and celebrated in an assortment of ways. One festive gesture is the wearing of masks. We hide our identity, pretending to be a murderous villain or a Jewish queen or a Ninja Turtle. It is all in fun, lasting for a short while during a carnival or a parade or a religious service. In time we shed our frailach facade returning to our authentic identity and to routine. It is a joyous holiday escape into schpiels, banquets and Hamantashen. We are formally bidden to drink in excess and told to rejoice during the month of Adar. It is a cheerful time of triumph and laughter.
There are masks and there are masks. In what used to be the stuff of science fiction, Third World plagues and Hollywood hyperbole, suddenly has become real, piercing our bubble, casting us into a surreal place of shock and peril. An economy in free fall. Ports and airports sealed shut. Travel plans canceled. Simmering intercontinental panic. Toilet paper, canned foods and bottled water disappearing from the shelves. Millions now wear masks not as a holiday ritual but to prevent infection from an unseen foe. And so we tip toe about retreating into isolation wondering what’s next.
There are masks and there are masks. Some for frolic others for protection. Masks for fun and masks for survival. It is intriguing how the same item can bring us up or take us down. A happy birthday cake and tearful pastries at a shiva home. A good down pour for the lawn and a destructive, lethal flood. A surgeon’s knife to heal and a thug’s knife to murder. To life, to life lechaim but not for an addicted soul. Things possess a bipolarity of both blessing and curse. And so, as the blight closes in we avoid hugs and kisses and hunks of challah. We wash our hands and engage with caution. There are masks and there are masks.
Fri, April 3 2020 9 Nisan 5780