Owing to a bad case of athlete’s foot, I’ve been walking around wearing one sneaker and one flip-flop for the past couple of days. Fortunately, I do not look at all out of place in a city that has been totally co-opted by the Purim craze. When walking to work each morning, I felt like I was watching a costume parade — instead of the usual groups of children making their way to their various schools, I saw princes, magicians, butterflies, and angels winding their way through the streets in colorful taffeta and satin.
Although adults do not get off from work for Purim, the schools give a three-day vacation that includes Ta’anit Esther, Purim, and Shushan Purim. Furthermore, for the entire week before Purim, kids come to school in costume. My colleague at the literary agency explained to me that at her stepchildren’s school, the kids are given a theme for each day, and the parents have to come up with a costume that fits the theme. (Needless to say, the parents are none too pleased with this arrangement.)
There was an aritcle in Kol Ha-ir this week about how nobody wears home-made costumes anymore; kids want only fancy store-bought ones. I’m proud to say that in spite of this trend, I made my costume myself using only tinfoil, a Fedex box, and a bicycle helmet.
I dressed as the Nosei Kelim of the Rif. The Rif, Rabbi Yitzchak ben Yaakov Alfasi (1013-1103), lived first in Morocco and then in Spain, where he wrote a legal code closely paralleling the Gemara. Several commentators then wrote commentaries and critiques on his code, and they are known as his “nosei kelim,” i.e. his “armor bearers.” Playing on this idea of armor bearers, I dressed like a knight and labeled each part of my armor with the name of another one of the nosei kelim, as follows:
Shield — the Ra’avad
Sword — Milchemet Hashem (i.e. RambaN)
Helmet — Rabbeinu Nisim
I also wore a sign that said “nosei kelim mikelim shonim,” which is a pun on Esther 1:7. And to add to the knight look, I borrowed a friend’s army boots and covered them with aluminum foil as well.
I should note that I still have the athlete’s foot, which did not go away with the end of Purim. Too bad that I can’t get away with wearing one flip-flop any longer, because my toes still really itch.