Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Purim Highlights

I hope that you all had a great Purim! Mine was terrific. I was very impressed at the creativity of some costumes that I saw. One yeshivah guy who came collecting was dressed as the famous chassidic legend "Chayah Suri," although he didn't have a schvimgleide. I had two friends from the Mir come to my seudah, one dressed as a Hellenist (complete with myrtle-wreath-hat and toga), and the other as an interfaith minister, complete with a genuine certificate of ordination! Personally, I shaved my beard, put on a wig and beret, and wore very elegant frilly clothing for my costume as a famous rabbinic figure - Ramchal.

One reader sent me the following pictures of his Rambam costume. He really looks authentic! Note the books that he is holding. If any readers have good pictures to send in, I'll add them to this post.


  1. Love it!
    Wish I'd taken photos when I went to shul, there were so many great costumes.
    And one Maccabeat was visiting next door to where we had our seudah.

  2. Great costume, but what's so authentic about it? He looks like an ayatolla from Qom (apart from the good guy white turban, of course).

  3. "Great costume, but what's so authentic about it?"

    It's "authentic" like Orthodox Judaism is "authentic." Seriously.

  4. Also, there's good historical evidence that the picture of the Rambam we've all seen isn't actually his picture at all.

  5. Nu! So where are the pictures of you??

  6. There was no intention for true authenticity, only recognizability. I, too, thought the costume looked as much like Iranian shia scholars as it did like the non-contemporary portrait of Rambam. Hence, the books and my frequent calls of "Rambam paskens a happy purim!" to clarify the costume.

  7. "Also, there's good historical evidence that the picture of the Rambam we've all seen isn't actually his picture at all."

    Are you confusing the Rambam with the Chofetz Chaim (where there is a good rumor that his picture is actually a picture of his butcher)?

    Or are you making the bigger mistake of confusing the latest known source of the picture is from the 1700s, with historical evidence that it is not him at all?

  8. Benjamin, my apologies if my comment seemed to assume you intended to look "authentic." As I said, it was a great costume, and I well know what you intended. My comment was directed at Rabbi Slifkin's remark that your costume really looked authentic.

    If anyone is interested, here are two posts I did on the subject of the Rambam portrait:


  9. BTW Rabbi Slifkin,

    What Chaya Suri wore was a "schvimKleide" with a "k" (really ah stunning piece)not a "schvimgleide" as you spelled it which sounds more like an obscure swimming stroke. I'm not sure how good your yiddish is or whether it was just a typo, but the idea is "swim clothes". The yiddish/German word Kleide probably deriving from something similar to the english "clad"

  10. The fact that he's swept his peyot aside (the lack of peyot is often pointed to as a proof that this can't be the Rambam) tells me that he's on to the fact that this isn't really the Rambam. The books are part of the joke.

    The picture of the Chafetz Chaim is him- it's his passport photo. The legend of his daughter saying that a picture wasn't of him is discussing an entirely other picture most of us have never seen, of a man with long white hair. But the idea that its the famous picture has spread so that another picture (of him in a cap) is most widely used in some places today.

  11. The idea of the famous picture of the Chofetz Chaim being a fraud is the kind of nonsense that any thinking person should dismiss out of hand.

    That picture has been in consistent circulation for decades, and has been consistently accepted as authentic. The CC is a figure of a past recent enough that even now there are a still a handful of his talmidim alive and as late as the 80's and 90's there were numerous students of his still around. If there was any question about the picture being of him, we would all have heard about this a long time ago from many former students who I'm sure would have been very happy to flaunt their personal knowledge of the CC is the service of debunking the myth.

    We didn't hear it. (I know of one such talmid, Rav Poupko, z"l of Brooklyn, who proudly displayed the picture in his Bais Midrash.)

    We are simply dealing with a question that is far too recent a phenomenon to be called into question. We are all effectively first-hand witnesses to the authenticity of the photo.

  12. If he really wanted to be authentic, the books would've been in Arabic.

  13. "the lack of peyot is often pointed to as a proof that this can't be the Rambam"
    This is a fallacy, as the Rambam himself holds that it is permissible to completely remove the peyot with scissors, just like the beard.


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