In general, Purim makes us deal with questions of identity. Who am I? Is the mask I wear on Purim reflecting my inner identity?
The psychologist Carl Jung argued that the most visible layer of personality is called a “persona,” while the most hidden layer is called a “shadow.” The origin of the word persona, apparently, is in the masks worn by the first theater actors in history, in Greek dramas. In other words, a persona is the mask, the external image, that a person wears most of the year. Deeper layers are hidden from the spotlight and are in the shadows. Sometimes what hides in the shadow is fear of zombies and Purim is an opportunity to touch fear.
Purim is also a rare opportunity to explore who we are without the economic masks of the culture of abundance.
The culture of abundance forces us to put on a certain economic persona. This culture checks: how many rooms we have in the house, what year the car is from and what model, the size of the plasma in the living room and what brands we wear. This culture empowers obtaining money and economic power and making them visible to all. The result: even those who cannot afford it feel obligated to acquire. The result is known to all of us: a hole in the bank account.
How much have we been washed away by the flow of consumption? A great deal, and it happens to almost all of us. We treat shopping as a pastime and not as an activity with a designated purpose, change equipment instead of repair, throw food from yesterday in the trash, and most of us have no idea how much we spend and for what.
In other words, our “persona” all year round is sometimes a costume, and another particularly expensive one. So here comes Purim and we have an opportunity to examine the real mask, the one beneath the Purim mask. Courageously and honestly examine the costumes and masks in our lives:
- To what extent do I follow norms I don’t really believe in?
Am I switching the smartphone model because I really feel the need to do so or to align myself with the consumer culture that mocks the miserable people who still own the iPhone 4?
- Who do I want to be financially?
Am I a person based on “the cost of living is high and everyone has a hard time”, “it is impossible to live without a minus” and “it will be fine” or one who looks reality in the eye and controls how I conduct myself financially?
- Which mask is time to take off?
What habit or expense can I give up? What are my real needs?
- Who am I wearing a mask against?
What expenses do I have that stem solely from wanting to be similar to the people around me, and why do these people cause me to behave this way?
In other words, check the mask underneath the mask, look for the deep inner layers of your personality, those that reflect the true economic values you believe in, and turn things around. There is no more appropriate holiday than Purim to perform “and vice versa” in the soul than Purim.