Purim Costumes

An interesting thread weaves its way between the lines of the Purim story, which at first may go unnoticed. If you look carefully, the theme of cloth and clothing appears ten times in the Megillah (the first and last of which refer to tekhelet!):

  • The Megillah opens with a lavish description of the tapestries and materials used in decorating Ahashverosh’s courtyard for his royal festival. Included in the list are hangings of white, fine cotton, tekhelet, fine linen and purple.
  • Mordechai rips his clothes and dons sackcloth and ashes upon hearing of Haman’s evil decree to destroy the Jews.
  • As the rest of the Jews start to hear the news, they also dress in sackcloth.
  • Queen Esther sends some decent clothing to Mordechai to wear which he promptly refuses.
  • Mordechai convinces Queen Esther to appear before the King on behalf of her fellow Jews. She appears uninvited before the King dressed in her royal vestments.
  • Haman recommends that the man Ahashverosh wishes to honor be dressed in royal garments which the King himself had worn and be pranced around the streets on the royal horse.
  • Haman is commanded to outfit Mordechai accordingly as a reward for Mordechai having once saved the King’s life.
  • After this public humiliation, Haman returns to his house in mourning, with his head covered.
  • Queen Esther charges Haman, and his face is covered for execution.
  • Mordechai joins royal ranks and gets a new wardrobe of tekhelet, fine linen, purple and a golden crown.

Megillat Esther is known as being the epitome of The Hidden Face of G-d (“Hester Panim”). Not once is the name of G-d mentioned in the Megillah, and yet Divine intervention is obvious throughout. Clothing – a covering which hides what is beneath it – fits in nicely with this theme. Hence, the Purim costume-custom!