We often think of Purim as a “holiday for the kids,” and while the carnivals and merrymaking certainly lend themselves to a more pediatric level of Jewish holiday observance, the themes and lessons in Purim are mature and nuanced. In fact, in today’s society, the story of Purim would receive an M rating (for mature audiences) for content and violence alone.
One very violent element of our Purim celebration involves the blotting out of Haman’s name. It is a longstanding custom rooted in the story of Purim and linked directly to the following passage from Deuteronomy, which is read every year on the Sabbath before Purim:
Therefore, when the Lord your God grants you safety from all your enemies around you, in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a hereditary portion, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!
This passage serves to broaden the archetype of evil found in the Purim story to include every villain that has ever threatened the Jewish people. According to Jewish tradition, Haman and all the historical enemies of the People of Israel are understood to be descendants of Amalek. Thus, amidst the fun and chaos of our merrymaking each year, Purim invites us to consider ways to blot out evil to make this world a better place.