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My question concerns an halakic issue about dressing up during Purim.

Would someone allowed to dress up like Hitler during Purim, provided that this infamous man was the modern version of Haman?

I recall I saw a film once where a Jewish boy would join the Purim festival in such a costume but he was forbidden by his parents.

Aside from the obvious lack of taste, would it be considered halakically correct dress in such a costume?

(no, I don't want to dress like this this week!)

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    may cause pain to survivors or their descendants. – ray Mar 1 '15 at 17:34
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    ditto ray's comment...just not a good idea. Haman's plans were stopped before being put into action. If only Hitler's were, also...we'd have a new holiday for 80 years now..instead of Yom HaShoah.. – Gary Mar 1 '15 at 18:37
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    @Gary leaving aside issues about how holidays are enacted, which have been discussed in many places, including but not limited to this forum, the question isn't about whether it's a good idea. Ray's got a hint of a possible Halachic problem that may be relevant. – Seth J Mar 1 '15 at 18:59
  • Why then wouldn't there be a problem dressing up like Haman? Judaism connects with its distant past as much as the present. Or am I mistaken? Is Hitler too recent? At which point in the future could a Jew dress up like Hitler during Purim and not be offensive any more or less so than dressing as Haman today?? – JJLL Mar 1 '15 at 19:03
  • Because Haman never actually took any victims. So we can laugh about him. – CashCow Mar 1 '15 at 20:05
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Displaying publicly an egregious lack of taste is a halachik problem - in fact it probably qualifies as a chilul hashem (desecration of G-d's name) about which the general halachik rule is yehareg v'al yaavor (martyrdom rather than violation). Not to mention the emotional distress caused survivors or their descendents (as noted by Ray in a comment) is also a halachik problem (akin to onaat devarim - verbal persecution). As would be the empowering of antisemitism caused by diminishing the seriousness of the holocaust (just to name 3 issues off the top of my head).

In response to a comment, I add a source for the definition of chillul hashem: See, e.g. http://www.nishma.org/articles/update/update5756-1.htm :

Basing himself upon T.B. Yoma 86a, Rambam states that if a pious individual acts in a way that the general population would consider inappropriate for this individual (and there is some inherent legitimacy to this higher standard of behaviour and its imposition upon this person), this person is performing a chilul Hashem. The concern within this category does not seem to be the portrayal of a lack of commitment to G-d. The concern seems to be the negative portrayal of observance, that people will denigrate Torah in that this pious person acts in such a negative way.

See also: https://www.ou.org/torah/mitzvot/taryag/mitzvah295/

This mitzvah applies to both men and women in all times and places. It is discussed in the Talmud in the tractates of Yoma (86a) and Sanhedrin (74a-b), and is codified in the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh De’ah 157. This mitzvah is #63 of the 365 negative mitzvos in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos and #155 of the 194 negative mitzvos that can be observed today in the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar.

See also: http://www.torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos/chapter4-5.html which is worth reading in full and relates the first and last example I gave of halachik issues in this type of behavior.

  • Displaying publicly an egregious lack of taste is a halachik problem - in fact it probably qualifies as a chilul hashem (desecration of G-d's name) about which the general halachik rule is yehareg v'al yaavor (martyrdom rather than violation). Wearing a Hitler costume is Chilul Hashem? Source? – Shmuel Brin Mar 1 '15 at 19:03
  • @ShmuelBrin Let's start with Wikipedia and go from there: Chillul haShem (Hebrew: חילול השם‎ desecration of the Name), meaning desecration of the name of God, is a term used in Judaism for any act or behavior that casts shame or brings disrepute to belief in God, any aspect of the Torah's teachings, Jewish law, or the Jewish community. – Loewian Mar 1 '15 at 19:09
  • @ShmuelBrin Since it seems this answer seems to have upset you I'll add to it and suggest that if you do intend to do this (or already have) consult with a reliable rabbi. – Loewian Mar 1 '15 at 19:17
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    @loewian when did wikipedia become a legitimate source for halacha? – Shoel U'Meishiv Mar 1 '15 at 19:36
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    @loewian Let's not quote Wikipedia. Wikipedia's Halachah sections are riddled with errors. I have tried to correct many of them that ended up quoted on Mi Yodeya - but hundreds remain. In my experience, Mi Yodeya is a better Halachik source than Wikipedia. – LN6595 Mar 1 '15 at 20:14

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