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Friday
Mar222019

The Rebbe “Interviews” The Child Starring as Haman in a Purim Shpiel

There is a prevalent practice in many places that children perform a “Purim shpiel” in which the entire story of the Megilla is staged. In it, an actor plays the role of Mordechai, Ester, Charovona, etc. The play requires an actor to fill the role of “Haman” as well.

When you ask a boy or girl: “How is it that you are prepared to act out this role in the play and to speak out Haman’s words, all the while you alone call him “Haman the Rasha”?!

The child replies, “I’m aware that such words — of Haman he’s acting out in the play — are not befitting a Jew, Heaven Forbid. But I was promised a few pennies for this job, and I’m ready to exit my true self and repeat Haman’s words temporarily!”

The child “excuses” himself further: “I’m before Bar or Bas Mitzvah age, so why do you come to me with complaints. More so,” he continues, “I’ll even give part of the money I earn for my part in the play to Tzedaka!”

When you ask the child, “Can’t you earn money, l’havdil, by learning Mishnayos by heart? — as the Jewish custom is that parents (or grandparents) give their children (or grandchildren) prizes for excelling in matters of Torah and Mitzvos, — why must you act the role of Haman?”

The child answers: “I get paid more for the play,” or “I get paid faster and have to work less hard.”

When you continue to question him: “If the only reason you are acting out Haman’s role is to make a few pennies, why then must you be so ‘into it,’ with enthusiasm and hand and foot motions?”

He answers: “When I’ll play my role as “Haman” with chayus (enthusiasm), with a loud, lively voice, I’ll “merit” receiving the kavod of my parents and friends. All will see that I’m an outstanding actor, who can even act in a “theater” because I played my role as “Haman” in the best possible way, to the point where I was able to scare the listening audience. I spoke the words of Haman (which are the opposite of blessing and so on) with the greatest enthusiasm and passion, everyone was able to imagine to themselves that Haman the Rasha himself spoke precisely this way!” G-d forbid.

“I am therefore interested to act out Haman’s role so enthusiastically, because if I just act it out “tzu yotze zein” [merely because someone has to do it] timidly and quietly, so everyone can see I don’t mean what I’m saying how will I get honor from everyone for being an amazing actor?”

The child continues to argue: “Why is everyone bombarding me with complaints and questions — my own teacher and mentor is aware of me taking on this role of acting out “Haman” in the play and said nothing! If so, there is nothing wrong with it.” The teacher’s silence is taken as approval, and in most cases, the teacher even voiced it.

***

From this, we understand to what extent one needs to be careful and pay close attention to the chinuch of children. Specifically, we must instill in them the principle that even if someone speaks to their hearts, telling them that for honor and for money … it is worthwhile for them to behave (even for a short time) in a way that is not fitting for a Yid — they should know that they should not be convinced by this suggestion! What’s more — and this is the main thing —these words should not have any impression upon him at all!

When one makes efforts to teach a child in this way while he is still young, chanoch lanaar (educate the child), then one can be confident that ki yazkin lo yasur mimenahm” (when he ages, he will not depart from this path). ■

Based on the sicha of Ta’anis Ester - mukdam 5743 (1983) parts of the translation taken from “Teachings of the Rebbe on Chinuch”

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