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Mardi Gras and Purim

02/27/2020 01:07:11 PM


This past week on Wednesday I posted an article on my Facebook feed about the similarities between Mardi Gras and Purim.  (Go check out the article and add me as a friend if we are not friends already).  In my post, I make the argument that both Mardi Gras and Purim are probably unique religious expressions of a common, older, late winter/early spring celebration. 

The reason I find this so compelling is that I think it speaks to two important ideas.  The first, is the old adage that we are more similar than different.  As with these holidays, people historically were merely trying to find a way to tie themselves to time and the seasons.  The second lesson is the answer to the question, why be different?  If these holidays celebrate basically the same idea, then why not just have one holiday that celebrates and commemorates this time of year?  The answer to this question I believe is the same answer to why there are different ways to prepare chicken.  While we are all the same at our core, it is the spices and strategy and expression we bring to our celebrations that make us unique and make the world interesting.

Also, just as different people have their favorite chicken recipe, we too can have our favorite ways of celebrating.  These favorite ways of celebrating are a combination of preference, upbringing, familiarity and resonance.  This is one of the compelling arguments for why we have so many different religions and opinions.  We each will find different customs or ways of thinking that work for us and still allow us to arrive at the same place.

The metaphor of the mountain with multiple trails is helpful here.  At the top of the mountain is God.  The mountain of course has different trails to get the top.  Some paths are scenic, some have certain types of flowers, and some provide a better workout.  In the end, the trail we choose is up to our unique makeup.  However, at the same time, we all have a desire to walk up the mountain.  In this way, we can embrace the idea of individuality as well as universalism.

In looking at others, try to look at the dish they are offering as a dish that is the same as yours underneath but with different spices.  Perhaps, while not your type of food, you can appreciate what they are bringing to the table.  So as long as no one is poisoning the food, everyone can then have a seat at the table.  This weekend, the teens and I are going to Washington DC to do some advocacy work. My hope is that just as we can appreciate the similarities and differences between other religions, these teens too will be able to appreciate and gain from the different points of view and arguments with which they are presented.

Wed, August 12 2020 22 Av 5780