In the world of the feast, in the “betwixt and between” break in the ordinary flow of time—“neither here nor there, neither one nor the other”, as Van Gennep describes the liminal stage, the revelers could afford to parody everything that was sacred, and turn the tables: buffoonery replaced seriousness, the profane subverted the holy. The sanctity of the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays, as well as Jewish customs such as dietary laws, were similarly targets for parody. In Eyn sheyn purimshpil, Mordechai’s description of the High Holidays includes a fantastic dream, in which his cow fulfils all the activities of the liturgy: with her hoofs shaking the palm-branch and beating its breast in a ritual gesture of atonement, while simultaneously blowing the Shofar (ram’s horn) with her buttocks. (573-5)Bibliography:
- Eyn Sheyn Purimshpil (1697), Leipzig, Municipal Library, Nr. 35. See Chone Shmeruk, Mahazot mikraim b’Yiddish 1697–1750 [Yiddish Biblical Plays 1697–1750] (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1979). [Hebrew]
- Arnold Van Gennep, The Rites of Passage. trans. M. Vizedom and G. Caffee (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960).