|Bemasked and Bewigged Purim 5781|
I was rather surprised and even flattered when a neighbor asked me to prepare something to say about "Masks" for the Old Fogeys' Purim Party. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure if I was supposed to be serious, theological or humorous, but I figured that if I asked too many questions, I'd lose the gig.My mind began racing in all different directions in two languages. Actually, I was thinking in English and translating into Hebrew almost simultaneously. The talk was to be in Hebrew, even though my brain's wiring is primarily English.
"פסגת זאב מרכז"
"Pisgat Zeev Merkaz*"
"Pisgat Zeev Market"
Until the lightrail announcement, I had never noticed the similarity between merkaz and market. Remember that markets are in town centers...
Back to masks...
...The job of a mask is to mask is to hide...
OOPS! A mask is a מסכה masecha, but to mask or to hide is להסתיר lihas'tir which unrelated linguistically to מסכה masecha. which has the same root as סוכה succah, which gives us protection.
By thinking/planning in English I was making no sense in Hebrew. And davka me, who gets all riled up at bad translations causing even theological mistakes. For example a Biblical Prophet, Navi נביא is not a fortune or future teller. He or she is a messenger, a tool Gd uses to pass important warnings to the Jewish People. Because it's always translated into "prophet" meaning teller of the future, now even Hebrew speakers think that the role of a Navi is tell the future.
Mask does sound very much like masecha. Maybe they are related...
Then it hit me! Such siyate d'Shmaya, such irony, too! During this past year masks have been a tool for protection against the COVID corona virus! No longer do we primarily think of a bank robber in a mask. Now we wear masks to stay healthy and keep others healthy. It's for protection, not hiding.
Hebrew really is the root of all languages.
Stay safe, and wear your mask in public or when with other people.