Purim: The power of rethinking - opinion

Indeed, this year, I will be a scientist. Not just on Purim, but for the whole year ahead.

 SCHOOL KIDS are dressed up in costumes of top figures in the news, ahead of Purim this week. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
SCHOOL KIDS are dressed up in costumes of top figures in the news, ahead of Purim this week.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Purim is coming and though I generally really don’t like to dress up, this year, I’ve been testing out some costume ideas. With all that’s been going on around the globe, I’ve been thinking about how I can dress up in a way that sends a message about the change I’d like to see in the world.

With inspiration from Adam Grant’s Think Again, I’ve been thinking about a few possibilities for costumes. Grant, whose book is about the power of rethinking, explains that there are four main thinking styles, personified by different professions, including a preacher, a prosecutor, a politician and a scientist. Each of these professions, or as Grant puts it, thinking styles, has a different goal and outcome. And so, in the spirit of Purim, I’ve taken Grant’s thinking styles a step further and imagined them as costumes.

I could be a preacher. We need preaching in this world. We need people who see the truth and share it with others. Whether that truth comes from the gospel, the Torah or elsewhere, we need inspirational ideas to ring out far and wide. But, as I’m studying to be a rabbi, I’m not quite ready to dress up like one (whatever one looks like).

Perhaps, I should be a prosecutor. Our world is really desperate for someone who can catch and put away the bad guys. What a good costume that would be! But, I’m not sure it’s for me.

I could dress up as a politician. Whether it’s wearing pearls (wink, wink, Kamala) or a pantsuit (nudge, nudge, Hillary), it could be a good costume. Politicians, in the best of cases, are activists trying to do good in the world. Of course, politicians also need to continually please their crowd to keep them in office. And I’m not sure that I’m that rah-rah kind of person.

 YOUNG MEN celebrate Purim in Jerusalem in costume and with drink. (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90) YOUNG MEN celebrate Purim in Jerusalem in costume and with drink. (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

What about dressing up as a scientist? A thinker and rethinker. An analyzer. A seeker of knowledge with which to improve the world. Scientists, by their nature, need to be open to other people’s ideas. They need to seek out those people and ideas that push back and poke holes in their work, to ensure its value and accuracy.

I quite like the idea of being a scientist. It feels in line with the kinds of arguments I like to have. Arguments that seek knowledge. Those that push me to rethink my ideas and approaches. Those that push me to interact with others and not only push my own ideas.

Indeed, this year, I will be a scientist. Not just on Purim, but for the whole year ahead. I invite you, if not to become a scientist, then at the very least, to think like one.

The writer is a Jewish educator who has dedicated her career to deepening people’s Jewish experiences. She is the co-author of Stories for the Sake of Argument, available May 2022. For more information on her workshops and book, visit www.forthesakeofargument.org.